warming up the pipes

The triennial Pipeworks festival is in full flow at the moment – the Great is coupled to the pedals and all the stops are out (or something). I don’t really know a huge amount about the pipe organ but what little knowledge I do possess leaves me in awe of really good organists. I’ve had the privilege of witnessing a number of really excellent players – usually it’s difficult to actually see what’s going on because they’re up in the organ loft, obscured from the vision of those below. (I just had a random image of Superman III – you know the big computer they build to take over the world? Now I’m not saying that such megalomaniacal tendencies are lying dormant just below the surface of organ designers/players but just compare…)

The picture on the left is the magnificent organ at St Giles cathedral in Edinburgh (city of my alma mater) and the image on the right is, of course, the aforementioned supercomputer from Superman III.

Anyway, there are lots of chances left to experience the rare pleasure that is the skilful and artful manipulation of the manuals, stops and pedals of a top-class pipe organ. This year is also the centenary of the birth of Olivier Messiaen, perhaps the most important composer of organ music of the twentieth century. A synchronicity of cosmic proportions such as this should not be overlooked. Here’s what’s available for your listening pleasure:

tonight (thurs 26jun) 9pm Saint Patrick’s cathedral: David Leigh plays Messiaen’s Livre de Saint-Sacrement

fri 27jun

  • 1.15pm St Mary’s pro-cathedral: David Leigh plays Messiaen’s Les corps glorieux
  • 8pm National Concert Hall: symphony orchestra plays Messiaen’s L’Ascension, Poulenc’s Organ Concerto (with soloist Thomas Trotter), and Faure’s Requiem (with the choirs of St Pat’s and St Mary’s). This is a hugely talented bunch of musicians gathering to play really fantastic music.

sat 28jun

  • 3pm City Hall: New Dublin Voices and three other choirs do a concert in the opulent surroundings (and lovely acoustic) of the city hall, at the top of Parliament Street. Each choir will do some music on their own and we’re also going to be joining together to sing some pieces. It’s free, so please come along and delight your eardrums for as long as you feel like πŸ™‚

sun 29jun

  • 5pm Saint Patrick’s cathedral: the festival finale; “…the presentation of a Vespers in seventeenth century Lutheran manner. With massed choral forces, brass accompaniment and the glorious acoustic of Ireland’s largest cathedral, this event promises a rousing conclusion to the festival.” We’re singing at this, too. The Lutheran church in its hey-day was the absolute bees knees in terms of music and spectacle. Songs of Praise just doesn’t cut it compared to this! If the stones of the world’s cathedrals could talk, they’d ask for this kind of church service. Come along and rejoice with the stones of St Pat’s as they get a proper pampering session!

more info (prices, telephone booking numbers etc.) can be found at the Pipeworks website

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