September 27, 2011

Global Seminars & Invited Speaker Series


Organs of Navarre: past and present

D. Aurelio Sagaseta.
Master of the Music Chapel of the Cathedral of Pamplona.

There is no need to insist on the idea that Navarre has an important heritage of organs, especially historic-baroque organs, some in good condition and others in need of restoration.

Since topic is very broad, after explaining basic aspects of the world of the pipe organ, both in the past and in the present (Navarran organ workshops, the "old" organists and their secular contribution to the musical culture of the people), I focus on two facets which have not been studied very much: 1) the location of organs in churches (it has a direct bearing on acoustics) and 2), on the unique timbres of the "romantic" organs of northern Navarre (from Vera de Bidasoa to Amaiur), with examples of some of their characteristic sounds, taken from recordings made in this regard; organs of Etxalar, Vera de Bidasoa, Ituren, Aranaz.

A word also about the location of organs in the most important cathedrals and temples and their musical repercussions. I am referring specifically to the disappearance of the central choirs in some Spanish churches. This fact has a direct impact on the beautiful polychoral music created expressly for that location. Perhaps when the suppression of some cathedral choirs with their choir stalls and their via sacra, etc., is valued in the next generation, it is foreseeable that the musical impact of the disappearance of the central choirs will be analyzed, it is foreseeable that the fact will be analyzed not only from an artistic point of view (there are different opinions), but also that its disappearance will be lamented from a musical point of view, since in the 20th century in some cathedrals all the polychoral music (scores for 2, 3 and even 4 choirs, with 8, 12, 15-16 voices), sacred music that gave so much splendor to the temple from the end of the 16th century until the middle of the 18th century, was eliminated with a single stroke of the pen.

Perhaps at the time when these decisions were made, the polychoral tradition had been lost, but today, once this heritage has been recovered to a great extent, the lack of a sound space for which this religious music was created (low choir and two high choirs) has become evident. With the suppression of the central choir, the organ(s) were also moved, and in some cathedrals, for example in the Cathedral of Pamplona, their proper location has not yet been found.


Ituren Organ (1899)

Ituren Organ (1899), recently restored. 

Keyboard of the Romantic organ of Vera de Bidasoa

Keyboard of the Romantic organ of Vera de Bidasoa

The lecture took place at the Civivox Condestable in Pamplona.

The lecture took place at the Civivox Condestable in Pamplona.