Un­veil­ing of the New Ku­lang­su Pipe Or­gan Art Center

Unveiling of the New Kulangsu Pipe Organ Art Center

On Ju­ly 8, 2018, af­ter the painstak­ing four-year process of restor­ing a mag­nif­i­cent 19th-cen­tu­ry pipe or­gan from Boston, Mass­a­chu­setts to Ku­lang­su Is­land and build­ing the organ’s new home—an acousti­cal­ly ide­al his­toric repli­ca of its orig­i­nal chapel—the new Ku­lang­su Pipe Or­gan Art Cen­ter was of­fi­cial­ly un­veiled to the pub­lic, and it will be open for vis­i­tors start­ing Au­gust 1, 2018.

The Boston-Ling­guang­tang Casa­vant Opus 700 is con­sid­ered a sin­gle in­stru­ment, but it is re­al­ly two pipe or­gans, not one. The two sets of soar­ing, sonorous horns and whis­tles and bells face each oth­er from op­po­site sides of the chapel. Each of the two or­gans has a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent tex­ture and col­or of sound: a British-style “Al­tar Or­gan” and a French-style “Gallery Or­gan.” To­geth­er, the two form one gi­ant stereo or­gan that en­velops the lis­ten­er from both sides across a fre­quen­cy spec­trum that push­es the lim­its of the hu­man hear­ing ca­pac­i­ty, a range wider than that of a sym­pho­ny or­ches­tra. The Casa­vant Opis 700 is an in­stru­ment and lis­ten­ing en­vi­ron­ment com­plete­ly unique in the world.

Unveiling of the New Kulangsu Pipe Organ Art Center

Ku­lang­su Is­land, Xiamen’s pedes­tri­an-on­ly en­clave known for its his­toric in­ter­na­tion­al set­tle­ment and nick­named “Pi­ano Is­land” for its clas­si­cal mu­sic tra­di­tion, be­came a UN­ESCO World Cul­tur­al Her­itage site in 2017. The Pipe Or­gan Art Cen­ter has al­so planned a se­ries of ex­cit­ing ac­tiv­i­ties to en­cour­age res­i­dents of Ku­lang­su and oth­er cit­i­zens to ex­pe­ri­ence these spec­tac­u­lar new organs.

The event could be de­scribed as an in-depth guid­ed tour through the sounds of an­tique or­gan heav­en. Vis­i­tors were able to hear and ex­plore the cen­turies-old leg­end of the in­stru­ment and to take a look in­side the or­gan to un­der­stand the sound prin­ci­ples of the in­stru­ment and its pre­cise in­ter­nal structure.

From Ju­ly 8 to 11, the Ku­lang­su Pipe Or­gan Art Cen­ter held 6 con­certs, and four fa­mous or­gan­ists par­tic­i­pat­ed in the event: Is­abelle De­mers, a pro­fes­sor of or­gan mu­sic and head of the or­gan de­part­ment at Bay­lor Uni­ver­si­ty in Texas, USA, rec­og­nized as one of the most fa­mous or­gan­ists in North Amer­i­ca; Thomas Tot, one of the most pop­u­lar mu­si­cians in the UK, city or­gan­ist in Birm­ing­ham, and or­gan­ist at St. Mar­garet’s Church and West­min­ster Abbey in Lon­don since 1983; or­gan­ist Xin Dongyi, the win­ner of the 20th Chartres Grand Prix; and Ken Cowen, one of the top con­cert or­gan­ists in North Amer­i­ca, head of the or­gan project at the Rice Uni­ver­si­ty School of Mu­sic, and an or­gan­ist and res­i­dent artist at the Palmer Memo­r­i­al An­gli­can Church in Hous­ton, Texas.

In ad­di­tion, four more mu­si­cians took part in the per­for­mance: ac­cor­dion­ist Tim­o­fe Satolov, sax­o­phon­ist An­drei Lak­isov, dou­ble bassist Bernd Gesell, and vi­o­lin­ist Lisa Shiheteng.

Unveiling of the New Kulangsu Pipe Organ Art Center

Ku­lang­su Pipe Or­gan Art Cen­ter: Home De­signed for the Gi­ant Pipe Organ

The Ku­lang­su Pipe Or­gan Art Cen­ter is lo­cat­ed at No. 1–4 San­ming Road, Ku­lang­su Is­land. It is an art palace de­signed for the Boston-Ling­guang­tang Casa­vant Opus 700 or­gan. It is al­so the first space de­vot­ed to an­tique or­gan col­lec­tions and per­for­mances in main­land China.

The Ku­lang­su Pipe Or­gan Art Cen­ter will fo­cus on pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion and pro­mo­tion of the mu­si­cal arts through high-qual­i­ty events, such as the world’s top-notch or­gan­ists com­ing to Ku­lang­su to play con­certs and hold mas­ter classes.

Boston — Ling­guang­tang Casa­vant Opus 700 Pipe Or­gan: Six Fas­ci­nat­ing Facts

Unveiling of the New Kulangsu Pipe Organ Art Center

In 2007, Kulangsu’s own Hu Youyi pur­chased the Boston-Ling­guang­tang Casa­vant Opus 700 or­gan from the Unit­ed States and do­nat­ed it to his hometown.

In 2014, the mu­nic­i­pal gov­ern­ment com­mis­sioned the Aus­tri­an Rigel Or­gan Com­pa­ny to re­pair the or­gan, which last­ed for 4 years. More than 40 or­gan re­pair ex­perts from more than ten coun­tries in­clud­ing the Unit­ed States, Ger­many, Aus­tria, and Switzer­land par­tic­i­pat­ed. Con­sid­er­ing the cost, du­ra­tion, and com­plex­i­ty of the process, as well as wide­spread in­ter­na­tion­al co­op­er­a­tion, it can be con­sid­ered one of the most re­mark­able or­gan re­pair projects in world history.

Unveiling of the New Kulangsu Pipe Organ Art Center

Facts about the Ku­lang­su Pipe Or­gan Art Center:

- Fact #1: The re­stored or­gan arrange­ment is con­sis­tent with the Boston-Ling­guang Hall, which is more than a hun­dred years old. Vis­i­tors can walk in­side the organ.

- Fact #2: The or­gan con­sists of two dif­fer­ent pipe or­gans, one on each side: a British-style “Al­tar Or­gan” and a French-style “Gallery Or­gan” that form one gi­ant or­gan. This is rare in the his­to­ry of mu­si­cal in­stru­ments, and its his­tor­i­cal val­ue is immeasurable.

- Fact #3: The Goth­ic look of the “Al­tar Or­gan” and “Gallery Or­gan” is con­sis­tent with the Goth­ic style of the church. Its clas­si­cal oak is fin­ished with com­plex and or­nate sculp­ture work, com­plete­ly handmade.

- Fact #4: The sound is a sym­phon­ic style. It is typ­i­cal of the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry, but it al­so meets the re­quire­ments of a mod­ern con­cert hall. The sound of the keys can be ma­jes­tic or del­i­cate, and the sounds are var­ied and ver­sa­tile enough to be able to im­i­tate dif­fer­ent mu­si­cal pe­ri­ods through­out history.

- Fact #5: The re­stored or­gan is im­plant­ed in the Aus­tri­an or­gan fac­to­ry Rieger’s unique REA elec­tron­ic sys­tem tech­nol­o­gy, which not on­ly en­ables the au­to­mat­ic play­ing of an­cient in­stru­ments but al­so can achieve tens of thou­sands of com­bi­na­tions of sounds for the use of mu­si­cians. Vis­i­tors to the Pipe Or­gan Art Cen­ter can this hear the or­gan play­ing by it­self at all times of day, 7 days per week, out­side of the con­cert schedule.

- Fact #6: The or­gan stage can be moved, while the tra­di­tion­al me­chan­i­cal Eu­ro­pean and Amer­i­can cen­turies-old guqin can on­ly be fixed in a con­cert hall or church and can­not be moved.

Im­age cred­it: GLY.cn