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St. Ignatius Loyola Celebrates 15th Anniversary of Mander Organ

March 17, 2008
Church of St. Ignatius Loyola

To celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the magnificent N.P. Mander pipe organ, The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola will present a month-long festival showcasing the instrument’s sumptuous sonic beauty and versatility.  Throughout the month of April, St. Ignatius will present three concerts featuring the organ in solo recitals and with instruments, in familiar and rarely performed repertoire, as well as a lecture by the instrument’s designer and builder.  Considered the “crown jewel” of the Church’s internationally renowned music ministry, the organ can also be heard as an integral part of weekly worship services.

Since its dedication on April 27, 1993, the Mander organ has been acclaimed as a superb liturgical and concert instrument, hailed as “a major landmark in the city’s concert landscape” by The New Yorker, and proclaimed “an organ of choice for recitals and recordings,” by eminent historian Barbara Owens in The New York Times. As the largest tracker-action pipe organ in the New York Metropolitan area, it has attracted the devoted interest of connoisseurs and novices alike and holds a special appeal for organists and lovers of organ music.  In 2000, the organist of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Olivier Latry, personally chose the organ and the church as the American site for his acclaimed cycle of Messiaen’s complete organ works, along with Notre Dame and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

The 15th Anniversary celebration opens with an Organ Plus! Recital on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 7:30 PM featuring Nancianne Parrella, associate organist, in a recital of works for combinations of instruments with organ. Special guest artists include Jorge Ávila, violin; Arthur Fiacco, cello; and Victoria Drake, harp. Of special note is a rare performance of Camille Saint-Saëns’ Le Muse et la Poète, an extended and ravishingly beautiful chamber work originally for violin and cello with piano or orchestra, here adapted to organ accompaniment by Ms. Parrella. Mr. Ávila and Ms. Parrella will perform Louange a l’Immortalite de Jésus, from Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. Music of Vivaldi and the French composers Ravel, Bourdon and Massenet complete this sumptuous and exciting program.

On Monday, April 14, 2008 at 7:30 PM, John Mander, designer and builder of the St. Ignatius Mander Organ, will speak on the Let’s Hear More! Lecture series.  The lecture is free and will take place in the St. Ignatius Loyola Rectory. Mander Organs has been building instruments for over 80 years and is renowned for reconstructing organs in many English cathedrals including Winchester and St. Paul’s in London.  Mr. Mander, son of the firm’s founder, is a leading authority on modern organ building and a specialist in historical instruments; and has a well-earned reputation as a charming and witty speaker.

Sacred Music in a Sacred Space continues on Wednesday, April 16, 2008 at 8:00 PM, when Kent Tritle leads the Orchestra of St. Ignatius Loyola in Camille Saint-Saëns’ monumental Organ Symphony (Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78) and Joseph Jongen’s Hymn for Organ and Orchestra, Op. 78, featuring organist Nancianne Parrella.  The Choir of St. Ignatius joins the orchestra for a performance of Karol Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater, featuring soprano Sara Murphy, mezzo-soprano Sasha Cooke and bass-baritone Charles Perry Sprawls.  At 7:00 PM, renowned organ virtuoso Ken Cowan, Assistant Professor of Organ at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, performs a pre-concert organ recital featuring music by Widor, Ducasse, Saint-Saëns and Dupré.

On Sunday, April 27, 2008 at 4:00 PM, exactly 15 years to the date from the inaugural recital given by David Higgs in 1993, the Mander organ celebration culminates in an organ recital by St. Ignatius Associate Music Director Renée Anne Louprette. Mirroring the inaugural recital, Ms. Louprette will perform a program of repertoire spanning nearly 300 years and highlighting the St. Ignatius organ’s preeminence in the French symphonic repertoire, including works by Bach, Titelouze, Isoir, Franck, Dupré, Messiaen, and culminating in the magnificent Choral-Improvisation sur le “Victimae Paschali” of Charles Tournemire.

All St. Ignatius recitals on the N.P. Mander organ are enhanced by the presence of a large-screen video projection unit.  Audience members are invited to a tour and demonstration of the organ following the recitals on April 9th and 27th.


All concerts take place at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, 980 Park Avenue at 84th Street, New York City. The Church is easily reached via the 4/5/6 subway lines or buses on Madison, Lexington, and Fifth Avenues, and on 86th Street. The church is accessible to the physically challenged. 

Tickets are available by calling the concert information line at 212-288-2520; VISA, MasterCard, American Express and Discover accepted.
Concert information and tickets are available through Sacred Music in a Sacred Space’s new website at www.smssconcerts.org. Email inquiries may also be sent to [email protected].