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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: “Who to see when you visit France (follow–up)…”

September 8, 2013

Dear Michael,

I am ecstatic to report that we did get to hear the great organ at Notre Dame during our trip to France! We happened to be there during the Feast of the Assumption and were able to go to the vigil mass on Wednesday night. We came by cab and were astonished to be met by the police, soldiers, and French TV. Apparently the feast was incorporated into a series of events around the 850th anniversary of Notre Dame's dedication as a church. There were at least 6000 people there, not counting people crowding the bleachers outside with huge TV screens. We squirmed through the crowd, and I got a seat on the steps leading into the sacristy, across from one of the rose windows, so I couldn't see the main alter, but I could hear everything. They were finishing Vespers as we arrived and then started the mass, so I could hear the organ, the choir, and an absolutely magnificent tenor who sang much of the mass. I was happy to see the church and organ in operation, but the chance to hear it was unexpected and overwhelming. What a beautiful, magnificent sound. I don't think a recording really gets it all, although if I hear of recordings with the renovated organ, I'll them. I later read that the organ was rededicated earlier this year, after a complete renovation. In any event, the church was gorgeous (and very spruced up), and the music was wonderful. What a happy surprise!! I wish I knew who was playing and who the tenor was. Wasn't that a great thing?

Thank you for your help!

Victoria English

Dear Victoria,

I'm glad you had a good experience…yes, nothing like the 'real thing'!





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