The International Bamboo Organ Festival was initiated in 1976, one year after the organ was returned after its restoration in Germany. Following the success of the Inaugural Concerts, the parish felt obliged to open the church once a year to share the sound of the Bamboo Organ under the best possible conditions with the general public. This was made possible, thanks to the generous support of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the foreign cultural agencies in Manila. It was during these initial years that the Festival was able to establish its name. After the financial crisis of 2008, this period came to an end; since then funding for the yearly festival has dwindled, and its educational program has been continuously under threat.
The beauty of paintings can be assessed in a museum, but the Bamboo Organ is not a piece of furniture to be admired; it needs to be heard, preferably played by a competent organist who can reveal the true identity of the instrument. Foreign organists were eager to come to the Philippines to play this instrument, curious to hear how an organ with bamboo pipes would sound. But during the early years, there was no Filipino organist acquainted with the literature and the keyboard of this retro-18th century Spanish baroque instrument.
The Bamboo Organ challenged the community of Las Piñas to discover its own hidden talents. The standards were set by the festival. The piano teacher of the parochial school was coached by the visiting organists, and became herself an organist who in turn trained young talents selected from among the members of the Las Piñas Boys Choir and the piano department of the school.
One of the piano students graduated from the Musikhochschule in Vienna, in 1992, and is now teaching organ at two universities in Metro Manila. Another studied organ building in Austria, and is among those responsible for the restoration of ten historic organs in Manila, Bohol, Cebu, Negros and Misamis, which otherwise would have been lost.
The lesson we learned is that it has been worthwhile to invest in the annual International Bamboo Organ Festival. It reminds Filipinos at least once a year of the organ patrimony they possess that is unique in Asia. At the same time, it creates an opportunity for locals and visitors to rediscover the unique sound emitted from the mouth and lips of bamboo pipes, and it demonstrates to the world another side of Philippine culture and history—all of this with the help of your support.
About the Bamboo Organ: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamboo_Organ
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VISIT THEIR WEBSITE: http://bambooorgan.org/
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