The largest organ in the country reinforces the second edition of the Leiria Organ Cycle


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Belgian organist Luc Ponnet will play on the organ of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fátima, in the municipality of Ourém, in one of the concerts of the II Leiria Organ Cycle, which runs from March 2 to 10.

The concert on that instrument, the largest in the country with more than 6,500 pipes and five keyboards, is one of the highlights of this second edition, the cycle’s artistic director, Rute Martins, told Lusa.

The Orfeão de Leiria’s initiative goes international this year, with the performance of Luc Ponnet, a Belgian who “is linked to the group of organists responsible for Europe’s historical organs, ECHO [European Cities of Historical Organs]”.

“Internationalization was an ambition and we’ve achieved it now,” with a show that “also extends the programming in the territory, reaching the Sanctuary of Fátima,” he said.

According to Rute Martins, last year’s first edition “came as quite a surprise” due to the turnout at the three shows.

“We haven’t had organ concerts in Leiria for many years,” but the 2023 cycle had “a strong response from the public, always with a full house, some with 150 people, others more” and so this year the cycle has been extended, with five concerts instead of three.

In addition to the growth of the program, the extension to Fátima and the concert with a foreign musician, another highlight is the show with a Celésta-Mustel harmonium: “It’s a special harmonium, with a very, very sweet sound”, which will allow you to hear “French and German music from the 19th century”.

The Leiria Organ Cycle comes about because “it’s important to keep these instruments in the region, not to let them fall away as if they didn’t exist” and this year it’s betting on a “very diversified program, with very varied pieces”.

“It’s both more contemporary music, with pieces by the organist who went to Fátima, for example, and older music, for example. It’s a very varied program and I think it will be well accepted by the public,” he concluded.

The 2nd Leiria Organ Cycle begins on March 2 and is a launch for the 42nd Music in Leiria Festival, also organized by the Orfeão de Leiria.

In the first concert, António Duarte will play “Key music from the 16th to 18th centuries” on the Fontanes organ – originally built in 1812 – at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Incarnation in Leiria.

On March 3, the Belgian Luc Ponnet presents “The versatility of the organ” at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fátima, in the municipality of Ourém, district of Santarém, home to the largest national organ, originally a 1952 Rufatti, restored in 2016 by the Mascionni firm, also from Italy.

Back in Leiria, on March 8, soprano Manuela Moniz and organist João Santos, on a Celésta-Mustel harmonium – from 1898 – will bring “Inspiring air, exhaling music II” to the Church of São Francisco.

“Music in the feminine” is the motto for the meeting between the Ninfas do Lis choir and the organist and artistic director of the cycle, Rute Martins, who will play the Rufatti organ of the Church of the Diocesan Seminary of Leiria.

The second edition of the cycle closes with “A journey through Europe”, led by José Carlos Oliveira on the Heinz organ of the Leiria Cathedral on March 10.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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