Updates for April 2019: Another Casavant in Beijing, W.C. Blackett, and Fr. Meinardi

28 April 2019
  1. A major contract has been let for the new China Philharmonic Hall in Beijing, with the winning bid made by Casavant Frères. The new hall, which will house the China Philharmonic Orchestra, will be built next to the east gate of the Worker’s Stadium (properly, the Beijing Worker’s Sports Complex, known locally as gongti.) In between the Second and Third Ring Roads, and not immediately in the city center, the area is served by several subway lines, though none are actually at the stadium itself. It is south of the popular Sanlitun nightlife area.

In China, ‘leisure’ (康樂, =sports) and ‘culture’ (文化, =art) tend to be linked together at government levels under the same administrative department. Placing a concert hall next to a sixty-year old, 66,000-seat football stadium does not appear incongruous there. The new building will be yet another futuristic (‘xenophilic’) piece of architecture having nothing to do with its surroundings, especially the Soviet-style stadium next door. Details about the design can be found here:


Casavant has not yet released further details, including specs and CAD images. The Project will update on this as information comes in.

  1. Following a meeting with members of the local AGO chapter in Hong Kong in April 2019, some new information on William Charlton Blackett’s organs has been added to the following instruments:




  1. We have also learned that a new edition of the letters of Fr. Sigismondo Meinardi (1713-67) edited by Prof. Eugenio Menegon of Boston University, has just been published. This updates the 1964 ‘edition’ of most of these letters (really just a mimeographed, stapled gathering) published over half a century ago in Rome. The new book, Il mondo di Sigismondo, is however a local publication by the authorizes in Druento, without an ISBN number. We understand that a free online version of the book will be available later.

Fr. Meinardi appears on p. 123 of Keys to the Kingdom in connection with an automatic box organ he built along with Fr. Giambattista Serafino (1692-1742) in 1741 for the Qianlong emperor. Meinardi reported that the organ’s barrels played “three Chinese sonatas”, but just what these pieces of music were is unknown today. Further information about the new book is available here (in Italian): https://www.comune.druento.to.it/it-it/appuntamenti/il-mondo-di-sigismondo-67934-1-60e934853c612b0ec865731f1eb080fe