Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pipedreams Organ Tour, Day 3

  After a very pleasant dinner , we spent the night in Aix-en-Provence.
The following morning (Wednesday, May 12) we visited another church in Aix, the Eglise Saint-Jean-de-Malte. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my camera into the church, which was beautiful, with ogival arches and very light inside. On one wall was a painting by Delacroix, which I would love to have photographed. Again, the organ in this church was a new one, simple, with an elegant arrangement of the pipes. Jean-Claude played variations on “Twinkle, Twinkle,” a delightfully irreverent tune that suited the organ’s abilities.

From there, we went to Beaucaire, to the Eglise Notre-Dame des Pommiers, a baroque structure that scarcely looks like a church from the outside. The organ was built in 1849, using an even older case. It was restored between 1986 and ’88 and is considered an “Historical Monument.”

Notre-Dame des Pommiers, organ pipes.
The next stop (third church of the day) was Roquemaure, the Collegiale Saint-Jean-Baptiste. This is an old church, with an old organ, apparently constructed in the 17th century and transferred to the church in the 19th century. The pipes are very well preserved, and the organ was restored in 1989. The church claims the remains of Saint Valentine (moved there in 1868). I wonder what lovers fought over those remains and where they were originally! The structure of the pipe assembly includes elements of both Spanish and Italian style organs; lovely stained windows illuminate the sanctuary.
Roquemaure, Collegiale Saint-Jean-Baptiste



After Roquemaure, we went to an organ builder’s workshop, Pascal Quoirin, a fascinating behind-the scenes glimpse at the guts of those magnificent music-makers. We saw two disassembled organs: one, being restored, from the cathedral at Toulon, and one being newly constructed for the Church of the Ascension (Episcopal?) in New York. We saw cabinetry, pipes and pipe construction, reeds and shallots. The many different types of pipes – tapered (trumpets), constant diameter, with and without reeds, the kinds of pipes in wood or metal – mostly tin (Sn) with about 10% lead (Pb) and even some (~0.1%) gold (Au). It seems that hammered and unhammered tin have different hardness and different sound.


Organ builder’s workshop, Pascal Quoirin

After the workshop visit, we went into the city of Avignon, where we were to spend the night in a hotel. The rest of the group went  to the cathedral (Notre-Dame des Doms), but I didn’t go; I was tired and wanted to take a shower and go to bed.

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