Nicaragua: Walcker Pipe Organs for the Lasallian Brothers, pt. 2
[Read part one here.]
In early April of 1953, the Instituto Pedagógico La Salle of Managua, a Catholic school for boys founded by the Lasallian Brothers, received a special shipment of 16 boxes, “some over sixteen feet in length and one ton in weight.” The boxes contained all of the parts to a large pipe organ which was to be installed in their new chapel, under construction at the time.
The instrument was commissioned by the school from the distinguished German organ builder E. F. Walcker & Cie. of Ludwigsburg. The company had already fulfilled orders for instruments in various parts of Europe and the Americas, including Central America, but this was to be their first for Nicaragua.
The Walcker organ for Managua was their Opus 3058. It had two manuals, each with ten stops, and a pedal board, with its own five stops and coupler. The instrument’s pipes were fed by bellows that could be filled by an electronic pump or a foot lever. The latter, I suppose, was employed to save in electricity costs, or in the event of a power outage.
The cost of the new organ reached C$80,000 (Nicaraguan córdobas), a sum raised by the Board of Directors of the school, accompanied by Brother Hipólito, on their fundraising trips undertaken on many a Wednesday. Brother Hipólito is described in the school’s memoirs as having accepted the task with his characteristic “wisdom and dedication.”
Later the same year, the chapel was completed and the organ installed in the choir loft.
On November 13th, at five in the afternoon, a special ceremony took place to inaugurate the organ, in the form of a blessing and concert. The Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, Carlos Borge, blessed the “monumental” organ, gave an “uplifting” oration, and also chanted some of his prayers.
An organ recital followed at which three organists took turns performing: Brother Joseph, Director of the Colegio de San José at Bluefields; Brother Germanique Regis, Director of the Hospicio de San Juan de Dios in León, “an enthusiastic promoter of the organ’s acquisition,” and former Chapelmaster of Managua’s Pedagógico; and Brother Maximo, Subdirector and current Chapelmaster. The select repertoire included sacred music and polyphonic works, some of which included the participation of the boys’ choir (see below).
The addition of a grand pipe organ proved to be a cultural boon for the school. However, it was not the only Walcker organ to be built for the Lasallian Brothers of Nicaragua.
To be continued…