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Casavant organ arrives at Montreal's OSM

12/18/2012 10:16 EST | Updated 02/17/2013 05:12 EST
The Casavant Frères organ built especially for l'Orchestre symphonique de Montréal's new home has arrived.

"It's very exciting," said the OSM's chairman, former Québec Premier Lucien Bouchard, who got a sneak preview of the organ's sound at the factory in St-Hyacinthe recently.

"We heard the first cries of the baby a few weeks ago in St Hyacinthe," he said. "Of course, it was just a minimal experience — nothing compared to what it will be here when everything is adjusted."

The OSM's regular fans will have to wait some time yet before they hear musical strains emanating from the instrument's 6,000 pipes in its new home.

Simply installing the pipes is expected to take until mid-January.

The work will continue until June, said Jacquelin Rochette, artistic director at Casavant Frères.

The organ won't be able to make a peep before then, and after that, crews will have to wait for days when musicians are away from the hall, to work on tuning the organ to make sure it sounds just right.

"It's like a very fine clock," said Rochette. "Everything must be so precise."

It's a colossal task.

"The largest pipes, which are longer than 32 feet, are providing 16 hertz, so it's basically a kind of vibration that people will experience in the hall, while the smaller pipes are tiny siflets (whistles) — smaller than a pencil," said Rochette.

Organ two years in the making — so far

The illustrious Casavant Frères, based in St-Hyacinthe, Que., has been building some of the finest organs in the world since 1879.

The firm won the contract to build the OSM's organ two years ago, meticulously designing the instrument and turning out all the tin pipes by hand.

The OSM's Bouchard says the wait will be worth it, because the instrument will expand the symphony's repertoire.

"A baby, it takes nine months, in this case, it will be something like three, four years," Bouchard said, laughing. "So, one more year to go."

The OSM has begun the search for an organist-in-residence, who will have the honour of playing the new instrument.

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