The Grenzing pipe organ in the Catedral de Sanata Maria la Real de la Almudena in Madrid, Spain is spectacular. Little did any of us know what awaited this group of American Organists and what we were about to hear. One of our group members would record an impromptu improvisation on this magnificent Grenzing pipe organ that would be “caught on tape” by me!
Yesterday we started in the beautiful city of Burgos, stopped in the small town of Lerma to hear one of the oldest pipe organs in Spain, had a wonderful lunch, said good-bye to one of the most talented organists and improvisers in Spain, Juan de la Rubia and then boarded our bus reaching Madrid that night. What an incredible trip Michael Barone and the people at PipeDreams put together for us!
Our first day in Madrid started with a good breakfast at the Hesperia Madrid, then we got on the bus for a quick tour of the main sites in Madrid. What a terrific city with beautiful architecture from all periods. Though out the trip I was very impressed with the Spanish People. Though their economy was not in great shape, they take great pride in keeping their villages, towns and cities in beautiful condition. We visited all sorts of areas during our tour and not once did I see graffiti or areas not kept up.
Natalie Grenzing and Mario D’Amico took great pride in showing the group the pipe organ their firm had build in 1999 at the Cathedral in Madrid. The organ has 71-ranks of pipes, 4-manuals and has a tracker action. Construction of the cathedral began in 1879 and it was finally completed in 1993 when it was consecrated by Pope John Paul II. The neo-gothic interior is uniquely modern.
I happened to be at the console when one of the members of our group Jeff Davis began to improvise on the chant Divinum mysterium (Of the Father’s Love Begotten). I was running my Zoom H4n digital recorder but when I realized this was going to be GOOD I took out my Panasonic HC-920 video camera and started filming Jeff. It was a moment, this wonderfully uplifting improvisation that said everything musically about how wonderful the PipeDreams tour of Spain had been. Everyone was moved by this improvisation and Jeff let me put it on YouTube for all to enjoy.
But the day was not over yet, there was another organ, a Cavaillé-Coll that awaited us next.