19 July 2007

The post with no name.

As I was preparing my last post for St. Clare's, I ran into a few pictures which I wanted to include, but didn't fit in with the last post, so I put the pictures here.

The first is of the ceiling at St. Clare's.

The ceiling is quite lovely and completely original to the church. The designs have no symbolic meaning that I have been able to discern, and their only purpose is to look splendid and complete the decorations of the church, which they do splendidly.

The other picture is of the organ.

As Vatican II and other documents state, this is the proper instrument of the Catholic Church. There is no substitute. Organs are considered so important to the life of the Church, that there is even a special blessing for organs, to be done when a pipe organ is installed and dedicated to the Church. In the picture below the Pope himself is blessing a new instrument, one which was named after him.

The St Clare organ was installed soon after the church was built, but we do not know the builder. The current Music Director at the parish tried to find out, but the only concrete information that we have in the records tells us the organ was originally tracker action, but was converted to electro- pneumatic in the 1940's (a process that the MD refers to as "electrocution.") The facade pipes on the St. Clare organ are painted and decorated. They resemble tall, green pencils. The MD believes that kind of decoration was common in Ireland, and since the church was originally built by Irish immigrants, he believes it may have been imported. This seems a trifle expensive for Irish labourers, and I would argue that it was probably built locally and decorated in the style they remembered from home. But this is just speculation. And in other respects the people who built the church seemed determined to get the best they could.

I have played the organ once. It is most gratifying to play a pipe organ on full stop, to hear the wall of sound and know that is you. The electro-pneumatic action however does have a slight delay to it. I found this when I tried to play a piece by Bach I have been working on (I expect to have it playable in about a year or two). The delay is at first almost imperceptible, but it accumulates, and as I was playing a rapid passage I found my self playing about two notes ahead of what the organ was sounding, and found it very disconcerting. The MD however assured me that you get used to it, and for an organ the delay is very slight.

It is a two manual with full pedal board instrument. I don't have the number of stops. In tone it is quite pleasant, and in the hands of a good organist it is a satisfying instrument to sing with, or to listen too.

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