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Home Philippine Festivals 39th International Bamboo Organ Festival

39th International Bamboo Organ Festival

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las pinas bamboo organThe Bamboo Organ : 40 years ago …. A precious cargo.

This unique picture on your left shows the familiar organ gallery in the church of St. Joseph, Las Piñas City, this time without the Bamboo Organ. The picture was taken 40 years ago, in 1974, when the Bamboo Organ had been brought to the Klais factory in Bonn (Germany) for restoration.

On July 28, 1973 the entire organ (except for the bamboo pipes) left Manila Harbor on the cargo ship “Essen” of the Hapag-Lloyd Line.  The captain saw to it that the best and most stable place in the forward hold was assigned to the container with the valuable Bamboo Organ. This turned out to be particularly fortunate since the ship not only had to go through rough seas but was also detained for a considerable time in Singapore so that the estimated travel time of six weeks stretched out over three months.

It would have been a disaster should the bamboo pipes have joined the rest of the cargo. Providentially, the bamboos travelled over Japan to Germany. They had been flown earlier, in April, compliments of SABENA Airlines to Japan, to the Klais-trained organ builder Yukio Tsuda . He restored the damaged pipes, and replaced some 50 small pipes of the Corneta V which had disappeared.  Again it was SABENA to fly the pipes to Brussels.  From Brussels, the pipes were transported by thermo-freight train to Bonn.

All transportation companies had given assurance that during the time of transportation the temperature would not sink below 18ºC nor rise above 32ºC. This agreement also covered the cargo spaces in the airplane which were set at the normal climate of the passenger cabin.

Once in the Klais factory in Bonn,  the Bamboo Organ was kept  inside a special room (called Klimaraum) which had the same temperature and humidity as in the Philippines, to prevent the bamboos from cracking due to the dry air which is caused by heating during winter time.

The auditorium organ : 20th anniversary
Twenty years ago, the Auditorium Organ was inaugurated on February 21, 1994 by organists Johann Trummer, Wolfgang Bretschneider and Armando Salarza. The honor of cutting of the ribbon was given by Ma.Teresa E. Roxas, President of the Cultural Center, Armando Fabella, Secretary of Education, and Francisco “Bobby” Mañosa, National Artist for Architecture. The blessing was done by Bishop Teodoro Bacani D.D.
las pinas bamboo organThe organ was built by Cealwyn Tagle and Edgar Montano (+) under the supervision of master organbuilder Helmuth Allgauer in his workshop located in Grünbach am Schneeberg (Austria) where both apprenctices underwent a 5-year long training.
Since the Inaugural Concerts in May 1975, training of Filipino organists has always been a concern. If the Bamboo Organ was a unique instrument, then it ought to have an organist who could match foreign visiting organists. Starting in 1976, the Goethe Institut Manila sponsored a workshop for organists for 4 consecutive years, conducted by Wolfgang Oehms (Trier, Germany). In 1979, Ms.Ofrasio, then piano teacher at SJA, was sufficiently familiar with the mechanical organ, that she started training her best piano-students at the Bamboo Organ, one of them being Armando Salarza. Armando, who in the meantime had studied under Fr. Maramba OSB,   caught the interest of JohannTrummer who was just visiting the 6th Bamboo Organ Festival.  Dr. Trummer was then the Director of the Institute for Church music in Graz,and he offered a scholarship to Armando to study in Austria after his graduation from high school in 1982.
There were three factors favorable for making Las Piñas a training center for organists in the future, after the return of Armando.
(1) The existence of a yearly Organ Festival
(2) the existence of the Las Piñas Boys Choir
(3) the piano/organ classes conducted by Ms.Ofrasio.  Future organist could come from Las Piñas, and could be trained by Armando Salarza.
The Bamboo Organ could not be used as a training instrument. Soon, the idea of having a “modern” organ (two manuals with pedal) developed over the years. For the parish, this was nothing more than a dream. But it was clear that a professional organist needed a practice organ for himself, which could be used at the same time to train the next generation of organists.
It is one of the many “miracles” we see in the history of the Bamboo Organ. The Archdiocese of Cologne (Germany) came to the rescue. They did not need many arguments to be convinced about this project. However, they set two conditions:
(1) The organ had to be constructed by Filipinos
(2) The instrument should be used to train organists.
This was the last project to be approved by Cardinal Joseph Höffner before he retired. He died a few months later, in October 16, 1987.
Cealwyn Tagle, a former member of the boys choir, left for Austria after graduating from highschool in 1988. He was followed by Edgar Montiano two years later. Johann Trummer took care of one important aspect of the program: motivating the two apprentices to return to the Philippines to continue the construction of pipe organs in the footsteps of Diego Cera.
This year’s Festival is presented by the Bamboo Organ Foundation, Inc. in cooperation with the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, Department of Tourism, Most Reverend Bishop Jesse E. Mercado, DD and the Diocese of Parañaque, Senator Manuel  & Mrs. Cynthia Villar,  Cong. Mark Villar, Mayor Vergel Aguilar and the City Government of Las Piñas, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, Embassy of Austria, Embassy of the Kingdom of Belgium, St. James the Great Parish, Diego Cera Organ Builders, VIA MARE Catering Services, Manila Hotel, San Miguel Brewery, Martini Asti, Menzi Trust Fund, Inc., Banco de Oro, RCBC, Elan Vital, BPI Foundation, OOCL (Philippines), Inc., Benjie’s and Alfonso’s Catering Services, Inc., MERALCO, D2P Research bvba Prof. Dr. Guido Dedene & Agnes Cabiara, Lamoiyan Corporation, Banco de Oro - La Huerta Branch, Riguera Realty and Development Corp., , Dr. Sonny Zulueta, Social Security System (SSS), Royal Air Charter Services, Inc., CableLink, Marilag, Evergreen Stock and Securities, Inc., Duty Free, Casimiro Development Corp., PAMATEC, Nestle, and the sustaining members and donors of the 39th International Bamboo Organ Festival.
For ticket inquiries, please call the Foundation office at tel. nos. 820-0795 or 825-7190, mobile no. 0999-5087838 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Or visit our website www.bambooorgan.org


39th International Bamboo Organ Festival Program

Friday, 21 February & Wednesday, 26 February


We know about festivities in Intramuros during the 1600’s, but do not know what music was performed. Music scores were lost. To reconstruct the music of that period of our music history, we can rely on the printed “Cancioneros” used in Latin America, and which probably were imported to Manila. Our encounter with Western music over a period of 300 years, made us different from the rest of Asia.

In this program, we hear the music of Spanish Golden Age, secular and sacred villancicos, from the late renaissance to the Baroque, accompanied by recorders, guitar, organ, castañetas, drums, etc…

Colin Andrews (USA), organ

Armando Salarza, organ

Villancico Vocal Ensemble

Las Piñas Boys Choir

Musika Sophia, recorder ensemble

Carsten Linck (Germany), guitar

Eudenice Palaruan, conductor


Saturday, 22 February

One festival evening is dedicated to a less serious musical fare performed by notable and popular artists in St. Joseph Parish Church’s inner courtyard. Featured on this 39th Festival edition is the first Filipino WCOPA (World Championships of the Performing Arts) world grand champion and balladeer, Jed Madela whose musical caliber in popular music, broadway and Original Pilipino Music (OPM) has astounded innumerable audience in the Philippines, in the U.S. and around the globe. The first half would entail an hour of front act to be rendered by the prestigious WCOPA artists who will do a dynamic production number as a prelude to the second half of the concert evening.



Sunday, 23 February

Colin Andrews (USA), organist, will play the Bamboo Organ (Spanish composers) and the Auditorium Organ (J.S.Bach)



Tuesday, 25 February

The two “surviving” Boys Choirs in Metro Manila meet in a unique concert. Eudenice Palaruan and Jed Balsamo arranged for this program music by Manoling Francisco, Eduardo Hontiveros and Arnel Aquino.

The two choirs will sing together in commissioned works for children’s choirs and Joy Nilo. The organ will be played by Johann Trummer (Austria) and Armando Salarza.

Tiples De Sto Domingo, Eugene de los Santos

Las Piñas Boys Choir, Armando Salarza

Armando Salarza, organ

Johann Trummer (Austria), organ

Last Updated on Friday, 27 June 2014 15:59  

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