On November 15, I had the opportunity to attend a pipe organ concert at the Mary Mother of God Catholic Mission in Vladivostok. I talked about the church itself, where I go on most weekends, in a previous entry. This past Sunday, I attended mass as usual, but I found out that soon after the service, they were holding the inaugural concert for the church’s new pipe organ.
This pipe organ is actually quite special because it is the first pipe organ built on site in the Russian Far East. The church commissioned Cealwyn Tagle, a Filipino organ builder along with his company for the project. While other organs certainly exist in the Russian Far East, this one has been built specifically for the Catholic Church in Vladivostok, and Tagle carefully considered the acoustics of the building as he worked on the project.
The formal blessing of the organ and the subsequent concert was truly beautiful. Prior to the music, the priests of the church, along with who I believe is the Catholic Bishop of the region, prayed over the organ and sprinkled it with holy water.
Two organists played during the concert. Marina Omelchenko (Марина Омельченко) is the head organist at the church but also plays at the Moscow Catholic Cathedral. Jennifer Pascual is a Filipino-American organist who earned her doctorate at the prestigious Eastman School of Music in New York City where she lives. During the concert, the organists were, at times, accompanied by voices and other instruments, including violins, a cello and a harp. The music was primarily by well known classical composers–organ melodies and fugues composed by Bach and Mozart along with classic church hymns such as Ave Maria. One of the most interesting pieces was an organ duet played using the new organ in conjunction with the old one.
The crowd in attendance filled up most of the available seating in the church. The concert that I attended was on Sunday, so many of the people stayed after the afternoon mass for the first organ concert. The music was very well received. Rapt in silence during each song, the crowd burst into applause with the customary shouts of “bravo!” at the end.
In all, it was quite a fine concert, and the pipe organ itself is a wonderful piece of workmanship. Considering that I had no plan to attend this show, nor knowledge of it, it was definitely a nice surprise for the afternoon. One of the local news organizations also covered the show. Below you can watch an interview with Omelchenko and listen to the organ at work.
Mary Mother of God Catholic Mission in Vladivostok
22 Volodarskovo Street