Muscat: The power and diver-sity of the pipe organ, which is the focal point in the Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM), was revealed on Monday when the majestic instrument was played publicly for the first time.
The inauguration of the pipe organ, which has 4,542 pipes and weighs 50t, included a symposium in the morning and a concert in the evening so that people could see the pipe organ themselves and hear it played.
"This instrument is a bit bizarre in this region, but it has existed since ancient times and undergone many technical developments. We would like you to know how important this organ is. This instrument extends the ability of any orchestra," said Dr. Issam El-Mallah, advisor and director of programme and events at the ROHM.
The symposium featured pipe organ experts, the builder of the pipe organ, the acoustical designer, and an organist.
Dr. Stephan Schmitt, a German expert in pipe organs, spoke about the history and development of the instrument, which dates back to at 300BC. He also introduced some of the music from the 14th to 20th centuries, which was played live by Prof. Klemens Schnorr, a renowned German organist.
German organ maker Philipp Klais, who built the ROHM pipe organ and others at concert halls around the world, talked about making of the organ and how, contrary to popular beliefs, pipe organs are not just meant for western churches.
"It's not a church instrument. It's an instrument for big public places…an essential part of a modern concert hall. It was a dream to build this pipe organ for you," Klais said.
The symposium concluded with a riveting and entertaining performance on the organ to accompany Charlie Chaplin's silent film "The Gold Rush." When the film was released in 1928, an organist would have provided all the music and sound effects to accompany the film.
In the evening the ROHM audience enjoyed performances by some of the world's best organists, including Jean Guillou from France, Isabelle Demers from Canada, Zuzana Ferjencikova from Slovakia, Ian Hockley from the UK, and Rashid Al Rashdy from Oman. Accompanying them for three pieces was the Budapest Symphony Orchestra.
Versatility and strength.
The selections of music showcased the pipe organ's versatility and strength. From pieces by Bach, Albinoni and Handel that were composed for organ, to compositions by Puccini and Prokofiev that were adapted for the organ, the audience could hear the numerous sounds the amazing instrument can produce and hear different musical styles.
Isabelle Demers provided some of the most memorable performances, such as her solo rendition of Leon Boellmann's "Suite Gothique," which had dramatic, ominous and creepy movements contrasted with soft, delicate, and spiritual movements.