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Allen organ in St. Peter - Rome has been removed

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  • Allen organ in St. Peter - Rome has been removed

    An official statement from St.Peter organist informs that the Allen organ will be removed from st.Peter and only the large pipe organs will be used.

    These are the words of the press release:

    "During the papal celebrations, the great pipe organ of the Basilica will be used again in front of the Altar of the Chair.
    As everyone knows, the electronic instrument was wanted by the ex-director of the choir, Don Massimo Palombella, and my repeated attempts to get it removed were of no avail.
    I reiterate my subsequent "obedience" to a decision that I never approved.
    Recently, after the "resignation" of Palombella, I renewed my opinion, shared by the whole organ world, to remove the electronic Allen so that the pipe organ present in the Basilica can find the right honor it deserves, namely the function of the pipe organ in the liturgy to "add splendor to the ceremonies of the Church and powerfully elevate souls to God".
    Thanks to the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supremo Pontefice and in particular to Monsignor Maestro Guido Marini who has shown himself to be particularly sensitive to the issue and promptly disposed in this regard."

    Juan Paradell Solé
    Organista titolare della Cappella Musicale Pontificia Sistina


    http://blog.messainlatino.it/2019/10...o-rimosso.html

  • #2
    Wow. Just wow.

    Comment


    • #3
      He certainly speaks his mind! Reminds me of the Trinity Wall Street affair -- new DOM, new organ, rinse, repeat.

      John
      ----------
      *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

      Comment


      • #4
        I have expressed regret several times over the decision to provide the Basilica of San Pietro with an electronic organ, and as I wrote a few months ago, I knew it would soon be removed.
        To avoid misunderstandings, I will immediately say that the problem does not concern the Allen brand. For me it would have been equally outrageous if they had installed a Viscount, or a Johannus.
        The choice of the organist Paradell Solè reflects the thought of most (probably almost all) European organists.
        We cannot exclude the pipe organ (which is also perfectly functional) which is full of symbolisms, rhetorical figures, metaphors, and replacing it with a microchip.
        Even musically, the electronic instrument has proved to be totally inadequate for use in San Pietro, as has been demonstrated in this year of use by the informal comments of the titular organist.

        For me, the electronic organ is a useful tool for practicing at home, and that's it. In the Church only (good) pipe organs.
        Last edited by ahlborn; 10-05-2019, 11:08 PM.

        Comment


        • beel m
          beel m commented
          Editing a comment
          Glad you said "**GOOD** pipe organs" (emphasis mine.) In the mid-sixties Allen made up an advertising brochure for their Advanced Custom organs (individually designed) where they said: "The decision to buy a pipe organ guarantees nothing. in a visit to the nearest ten pipe organs one would find perhaps ONE which musicians would declare a truly fine instrument..." True then, true now, except that many of those marginal pipe organs have been dumped or replaced by digital organs. I know that in my city and its suburbs, the "10%" figure still rings close to true.

        • ahlborn
          ahlborn commented
          Editing a comment
          Yes, I deliberately specified "good" pipe organ, because clearly there are also low-quality pipe organs, unfortunately. But the situation in St. Peter's is completely different. The organs are of great artistic and historical value, and are perfectly restored.

      • #5
        Originally posted by beel m View Post
        Wow. Just wow.
        Have I missed something here? It sounds like good news to me that a pipe organ is being brought back into full time use, or was it better to have the Allen for some reason??

        Comment


        • #6
          Surely none of us would be unhappy to know that a fine pipe organ has been restored to full usage. The pipe organ sound is the standard to which all electronic organs aspire. The pipe organ is the true King of Instruments, which the digital seeks to emulate as best it can. Nobody on this forum that I know of dislikes pipe organs in the least or has any problem with seeing them restored and used whenever and wherever possible.

          The only thing that is a little disturbing to me about this story is the contempt being heaped upon the Allen. Perhaps it was a mistake all along to try to use an electronic organ in this place, but when it was installed, there were all kinds of reasons given why this was going to be helpful. Some of the people involved were quite excited about the new instrument and the positive changes it would bring for the larger services. There were opponents too from the start, but good reports about the results in the services for which it was used.

          It did seem to me from the start that the Allen chosen for this install was undersized, though there may have been reasons for that as well. Normally, an installation in such a prominent place would've called for a very large and carefully planned custom instrument rather than the smallish stock model they placed. I don't know if that was Allen's doing or if the folks in charge of the purchase simply wanted to keep the cost low.

          But we all should keep in mind that there are millions and millions of people every Sunday who worship in churches where there is no pipe organ, and never will be, because there is not enough space, not enough money, and so many other obstacles to having a real pipe organ. In these churches, I see no harm in having a good electronic organ, which nearly all of us agree can make lovely music and come close to imitating the sound of a pipe organ when properly installed and voiced.

          True, a pipe organ is "alive" in a sense -- air flowing through the tuned pipes creating sound with pure physics in the room itself -- achieving a particular symbolism and metaphor -- the Spirit of God entering each of us and making us spiritually alive. But a properly installed electronic organ also moves and stirs the air in the room with the motion of loudspeaker cones, made "alive" by the flow of electrons though their coils, and can, in the right environment, set the room in motion in much the same way that pipes do. It just isn't right to dismiss the electronic organ as unworthy when there are SO MANY Christians around the world who will never be able to enjoy any other kind of organ in their own churches.
          John
          ----------
          *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

          https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

          Comment


          • Dewey643
            Dewey643 commented
            Editing a comment
            I agree! I couldn't have said that any better myself!

        • #7
          On some things I agree. But on others not.
          I know well the story of the organ of St. Peter, and the people involved.
          The phantom "technical" reasons for which the electronic organ was installed are totally non-existent.
          In St. Peter there are 6 pipe organs (of which the two largest are incorporated into a single console with four manuals, plus another mobile console with three manual connected via radio).
          Inside the two main organ chamber there are some microphones, in a permanent professional installation, and the signal is distributed and amplified, according to the need, in various points of the basilica. The same signal can be transmitted during television broadcasts.
          This is a professional system, designed and built by engineers, which has always worked very well. We are not talking about a system built by a hobbyist in the dusty basement of his house.
          Even the pipe organ has always been in perfect working order (there is a press release from the Mascioni company that oversaw the restoration and periodic maintenance), and there were no reasons to replace it with an electronic organ.
          The only person who wanted an electronic organ was Mons. Massimo Palombella. Only exclusively for his personal whim.
          But I believe that today Mons. Palombella is thinking of other problems, given that he is still on trial for financial crimes within the Vatican (as announced by a Vatican statement).


          About the many churches that do not have a pipe organ I can say this: I do not know the situation in the United States, but I know the situation well in Italy, and in part of Europe.

          I can assure you that most churches that do not have a pipe organ, is because they are not interested in it.
          Near here where I live, a rather poor parish church after 10 years of sacrifices, has managed to buy a real pipe organ, definitively eliminating the electronic organ. It must be said that the parish priest is a highly motivated person, and there is a professional organist who makes a huge difference. The community is satisfied and I do not believe that today it would give up the pipe organ.


          Comment


          • #8
            Do keep in mind that yes, things ARE different in the US. For one thing, Christianity is far more fragmented here, and that makes a big difference in what churches are able to afford. In even the smallest town there may be several churches. A town with fewer than 1,000 residents can have a dozen churches of varying "flavors" -- this and that type of Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal. Maybe a Catholic church, maybe a Lutheran, or even two of them of slightly different varieties. All these are more or less competing for members and for money. Not to mention competing for the only person in town who even claims to be an organist.

            Perhaps a new pipe organ (or even the labor to have an old one moved) costs more here than in Italy. With the money so hard to come by, and with people often not willing to settle for a pipe organ with only two or three ranks, many churches elect to have a digital instead of nothing. There are of course some really poor digital organs out there in churches, but there are enough really good ones to show that it CAN be done.

            As has been said many times on this forum, certain well-known ingredients are essential to make a digital organ installation successful -- good acoustics, a well-chosen organ of the appropriate size for the room, adequate amplification and speakers, thoughtful placement of speakers, professional voicing and finishing. Last but not least, tasteful and musical playing style. When all these elements are taken into account, a digital organ can grace a church with glorious music where otherwise there would be no organ at all.

            I'm delighted to know that St. Peter's is able to enjoy four wonderful pipe organs, and that professional equipment is in place to amplify these organs as needed for the massive crowds of people who wish to worship there. (A bit odd though to think that it's OK to use microphones and amplify a pipe organ, but so many object to simply using a digital organ as the source, bypassing the need for microphones.)
            John
            ----------
            *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!

            https://www.facebook.com/pages/Birds...97551893588434

            Comment


            • beel m
              beel m commented
              Editing a comment
              John, your last sentence is particularly spot-on. Thanks!

          • #9
            We all agree that an *excellent* pipe organ properly installed, voiced, maintained and played is the ideal.
            But with the top-tier pipe organ builders averaging the "mid-twenties per rank" (last I heard), that's not a viable option for many churches. My little congregation would have to have "500 bake sales" to replace our Allen MOS-1- which seems poised to last forever- with another small Allen, let alone even the tiniest pipe organ.

            Comment


            • #10
              Interestingly, as of 30 seconds ago Allen still has the Vatican organ prominently listed on its website! Of course, it's the weekend, so I'll check back tomorrow...

              Comment


              • #11
                I just had an interesting thought. I heard nothing about payment for the organ so assume it was a 'freebie.' Assuming it now goes back to Allen, I think there would be any number of Catholic churches in the States who'd be honored to buy the "organ that was at the Vatican."
                I base this on the fact that organs used at the Eucharistic Congresses and Papal visits were snapped up by Catholic churches, at a decent price.
                Not being snarky here! My wife's RC and her church probably would love to put a bid in on the Vatican organ. So, looking at the up-side, there may be further news from Allen when the "temporary Vatican organ was refurbished at the factory and permanently installed in St. XXX Catholic Church in Anytown, US"

                Comment


                • jbird604
                  jbird604 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Back in the 80's on one of the Pope's visits to the US, Rodgers apparently provided an organ for a mass he said somewhere. I know several churches that now claim to own that very organ! Must be a good selling point...

              • #12
                Originally posted by jbird604
                A bit odd though to think that it's OK to use microphones and amplify a pipe organ, but so many object to simply using a digital organ as the source
                I had the same thought when reading about the microphones & amplifiers. There must be speakers, right? A few years ago, when digital pianos were getting more realistic, I could tell if it was acoustic or digital. (Still can.) Then I played for an event using a mic'd Kawai console. After hearing the acoustic piano through the PA I told the music director that the real piano sound coming through the speakers was no different from a digital piano. The amplification was the difference. I know that most people can't tell the difference between real pipes and a good Allen installation. I suspect that Vatican pipe organ through speakers sounds worse than a good digital organ. Maybe enough of the "real" sound gets out to enhance the speakers, I don't know.
                Last edited by myorgan; 10-06-2019, 06:35 PM. Reason: Fix quote.

                Comment


                • #13
                  I thought I heard some really loud yelling in Italian coming from across the ocean a few months ago...

                  Saint Peter's is vast. The layout of the building certainly does not allow hearing of the pipe organ directly from the chamber openings at many seating locations, hence the microphones and use of the sound system to distribute the sound of the organ more evenly.

                  But JBird and OrgankeysJones comments about the difference between hearing the pipe organ through loudspeakers and hearing a digital organ through those same speakers are spot on. It just doesn't matter how professional and expensive the sound system is, once you are not hearing the sound directly from the pipes the whole aural picture changes. There may even have been more clarity in the Allen sound than the pipe organ sound.

                  It's all posturing, politics, outrage at the American company's intrusion into Italian (Vatican) space (and yes, I do think that made a difference), flying in the face of "tradition" and what appears to be some massively serious interpersonal rivalries. (Witness the way that press release was worded, dripping with contempt.)

                  I'm guessing that if one were to have done an exit poll of the faithful leaving the Basilica after a mass when the Allen was used, the vast majority of the congregation would have no idea they heard an electronic organ and frankly would not care. The acoustics of that cavernous space blur the sound too much for critical listening anyway.

                  I do like the idea of an American RC church getting that instrument. I hope Allen can make lemonade out of this episode.
                  Last edited by AllenAnalog; 10-06-2019, 09:07 PM.
                  Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Saville Series IV Opus 209; Steinway AR Duo-Art, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Gulbransen Rialto; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI.

                  Comment


                  • Jay999
                    Jay999 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    You're spot on!

                • #14
                  I imagined that the situation was different in the United States. The main religion in Italy is Catholicism, and together with different market rules, it can make the difference between having a pipe organ and not having it.
                  I understand that in some churches the electronic substitute is the only possibility of making music in the absence of a pipe organ.
                  However, for many churches, even the richest ones, the electronic organ is chosen because it is the easiest, plug and play solution, less demanding, compared to a good pipe organ.
                  It would be like sticking posters to church walls, rather than calling a real painter. And this is always a damage to art.
                  The electronic organ in a place like St. Peter's would have created a dangerous situation for all the other churches.
                  Every priest of any parish could have asked himself: "Why do I have to spend 200,000 euros to restore the baroque pipe organ, when with 15,000 euros I can buy an electronic organ? In any case, ordinary people do not feel the difference between baroque and electronic organ!" This way of reasoning always leads to a debasement, degradation, to mortify art. There is an anecdote of the sculptor: When he worked meticulously in a detail of a statue placed on top of the cathedral, a student asked: "Why do you worry so much about such a small detail? At this height none of the men can see the difference!". And the sculptor replies: "I don't care that men notice, but that God is aware, that he can see better from up there!"
                  However, apart from these "philosophical" considerations, the digital organ has been removed because in these two years it has emerged that the use of the pipe organ is technically and artistically better solution, even when it is amplified.
                  They are always difficult to understand the technical reasons when you are not present on the site, but personally I trust more than the opinion of the Vatican experts.
                  I understand that Allen's lovers see this as a political conspiracy against Allen, but it wouldn't have made any difference if they had installed a Viscount (which is Italian) instead of Allen.

                  For those who believe that the removed Allen organ can return to U.S., perhaps in some church, I'm afraid to give you bad news.
                  The organ will most likely be placed in some classroom of the Vatican school, and will be used for less demanding work, for the study of the choir singers.
                  Last edited by ahlborn; 10-07-2019, 12:21 AM. Reason: Some correction

                  Comment


                  • jbird604
                    jbird604 commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Placement of that Allen in a classroom is a good idea. It appears to be a smallish stock model anyway, much more suited to a classroom or small chapel. Interestingly, way back in the 70's Allen placed an early digital somewhere in the Vatican. I want to say it was in some part of the Sistine Chapel. There was, best I know, no controversy about that placement. I don't know whether or not it replaced some pipe organ.

                  • ahlborn
                    ahlborn commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Yes John, in the early 1980s the director of the Sistine Chapel choir, Mons. Domenico Bartolucci, bought an Allen organ. But this organ was not installed in the Sistine Chapel, but was inside a schoolroom, for the practice of the choir singers.

                • #15
                  Hi,

                  If memory serves me right, there have been a variety of electronic organs at St. Peter's basilica, including an early Allen, GEM (Ahlborn), Viscount. Some of these organs were used for out door services. Others used for choir practice instruments.

                  It must be remembered that St. Peter's is considered first and foremost to be a house of worship. Secondly it is a tourist designation, and sometimes a concert venue. So the organ there does not have great prominence there.

                  my guess is the Allen there will be re-purposed somewhere else in the Vatican.

                  AV

                  Comment


                  • ahlborn
                    ahlborn commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Yes, remember well. Surely an Ahlborn and a Viscount played for an external celebration, when the Walcker portable pipe organ was stopped. It was a temporary situation, exclusively for outdoor celebrations.
                    Currently, even for outdoor celebrations, the large pipe organ is used, with the console connected by radio, and the sound taken from the microphones and taken outside.
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