The Pipe Organ in China Project: Updates for November 2023

30 November 2023

With the disastrous effects of China’s ‘Zero-Covid Policy’ subsiding in some ways, long-delayed installations are finally taking place. But this month we have added a new organ to the Census with a different origin. This is a two-rank positive made at the Dalian University of Technology by Prof. Wang Xiaohu and his graduate students between 2001 and 2003. Prof. Hu’s goal is to stimulate pipe organ building locally in China. This means that DRN2023 is the first pipe organ built entirely in Mainland China, Hong Kong, or Macau since the closure of the firms of W.C. Blackett (Hong Kong), and Moutrie and Sam Lazaro (Shanghai) at the start of the Sino-Japanese War around 1939. The Project will follow with interest these developments.

Pages for TJN1913, DRN1914, and SHA1925 have been updated.

The Hong Kong Chapter of the American Guild of Organists held their annual member’s recital on 24 November. The program featured music by Albright, Bach, Boëllmann, Bolcom, Langlais, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, and Vierne. The program is shown below.

Prof. Urrows contributed a blog post in November on the mystery of a harmonium that used to be in the Chapel of St. Joseph in Ma On Shan Village. Any communications about the whereabouts of this instrument will be gratefully received at calcant@organcn.org.

And the fourth annual Hymnos Festival is taking place in Hong Kong and Macau as this update is posted. On 25 November, the second Jesuita Cantat (Jesuita Cantat 2.0) concert took place in Hong Kong, presenting more music from the mid-19th Century French Roman Catholic missions in Shanghai. It was held at the little-known (but enormous) Chapel of Christ the King in Causeway Bay, with its superb 3.5 second reverberation time, ideal for choral music.

Prof. Urrows and Andrew Leung conducted the choir, Vox Antiqua, with guest players from Good Hope School on dizi (transverse flute), and sheng (bamboo mouth organ), Karen Yeung, dulzian, Chere Ko, organ, and guest singers Rachel Kwok, soprano, and Samantha Chong, mezzo-soprano. The major works were the Salut pour le jour du St. Sacrement of Louis Lambillotte, of which the last movement was sung in Shanghai under the direction of Fr. François Ravary, and the Messe royale du premier Ton of Henry du Mont, which was the standard setting of the Ordinary in the China missions until the 1920s. This was the first time that Father Ravary’s liturgical ensemble of organ, dizi, and sheng– a hidden ‘soundworld’ –had been recreated in 150 years (photo below). Other works known to have been sung in Shanghai (by Lambillotte, Jules Dufour SJ, Saverio Mercadante, and a Marian hymn sung to the melody of the French folksong, Des concert avec les anges), were also on the program. When clips from this concert of music from ‘China’s Hidden Century’ are available, we will post the links.

Organs in the Census: 205

Hits this month: 1,176

Prof. Urrows conducts a rehearsal of du Mont’s Missa Regia at the Chapel of Christ the King, Hong Kong.