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Home Culture and Heritage Las Pinas Bamboo Organ

Las Pinas Bamboo Organ

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las pinas bamboo organThe Bamboo Organ is one of the Philippines’ national treasures.  It was built between 1816 and 1824 for the Parish Church of Las Piñas, a village nine miles from the center of Manila, which now has achieved its own cityhood.  Every year it receives countless visits from Filipino and foreign visitors alike.

Far from being an oddity, the Bamboo Organ is a serious instrument in the classic Spanish style, and a number of the world’s best-known organists have enjoyed its charm and color.  Fr. Diego Cera de la Virgen del Carmen was responsible for the construction of both the organ and the church.  An Augustinian Recollect, he was parish priest of Las Piñas and the son of a family of organ builders in his native Spain.  Records show that he also was an unusually gifted natural scientist, chemist, architect, community leader and organist.

The choice of bamboo for the majority of the pipes was made both for practical and aesthetic reasons.  Bamboo was abundant, in wide use as a building material, and when treated correctly, resistant to insects and rot.  Fr. Cera had long been experimenting with this material; in the end only the horizontal reed pipes had to be made of metal, but not for lack of trying, as suggested by the number of mute bamboo pipes mounted in the rear façade of the case.

 

The final result conforms very closely to the Mediterranean model: divided keyboard and registers, a basic choir with few mutations, horizontal trumpets in the façade, and a short pull-down pedal-board.  In addition, there are a few favorite effects: Pajaritos (seven pipes tuned to imitate bird song), Tambor (two pipes tuned to beat in imitation of a drum), and one register tuned to vibrate slightly.  The original wind supply was provided by hand-operated trouble bellows.  Placed in a small, not very resonant stone church, the essentially wooden instrument sounds quite brilliant, with fine contrast between the real flute registers, the main choir with mutations and the metal reeds.  All Mediterranean repertory sound well on the instrument, as do northern compositions that do not require independent pedal registers.

Earthquakes and typhoons - and the damage they bring - being facts of Philippine life, Fr. Cera himself became the first restorer of the Bamboo Organ.  Others following him were less successful, and several partial and approximate attempts made in the early part of this century just to keep it playing ultimately failed.  In 1973, the entire instrument was shipped to the Johannes Klais organ factory in Bonn for complete restoration work.  Replacements for the bamboo pipes passed first through Japan for treatment; a special room was set up in Bonn to maintain tropical humidity for the duration of the work.

In 1975, the fully restored instrument was remounted in its original position, where it has now become the centerpiece of an important international music festival, as well as the stimulus for the rebirth of an unusual and very active parish life.

 

INTERNATIONAL BAMBOO ORGAN FESTIVALS

39th IBOF - February 21 to 25, 2014

37th IBOF - February 23 to 29, 2012

36th IBOF - February 17 to 23, 2011

35th IBOF - February 18 to 24, 2010

34th IBOF - February 19 to 27, 2009

 

For more information about the Las Pinas Bamboo Organ, you can email them at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can also visit their  website at www.bambooorgan.org

Last Updated on Monday, 30 June 2014 15:40  

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