The 37th Bamboo Organ Festival
This musical instrument, the Philippines' bamboo organ and the only one in the world, is holding its 37th musical festival, February 23-29, 2012. The city of Las Pinas once again takes its pride in this annual celebration gathering together the world's talented musicians to play an array of compositions on this unique and extraordinary instrument.
- History of Bamboo Organ
- Birth of the Annual Bamboo Organ Festival
- Bamboo Organ Foundation, Inc.
- The Diego Cera Organbuilders, Inc.
- Tribute to Fr. Diego Cera
- Additional Information
History of Bamboo Organ
Bamboo organ is a musical instrument made almost entirely of bamboo and can only be found at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Las Pinas City, Philippines. It is typical of a Spanish baroque model and was built to permanently fit under an arch and between 2 nave pillars of the church. It contains 1,031 pipes, of which 902 are made of bamboo, while the remaining 129 comprise the horizontal trumpets which are made of metal. It has one manual, divided registers with separate knobs for the bass and treble, horizontal trumpets for the facade, and a few short pull down pedal notes. This instrument has continuously lured tourists from all over the world with its melodious sound and classic Spanish style.
The Builder of Bamboo Organ
The very famous and internationally acclaimed bamboo organ was built by Spanish priest Fr. Diego Cera dela Virgen del Carmen. Fr. Cera served as a parish priest of St. Joseph Catholic Church from 1795 to 1830. He was a very gifted man being a chemist, an architect, a community leader, an organist, and an organ builder. He started building the organ in 1816 while the church was still under construction. The church was completed in 1819, while the organ was finally completed in 1824.
Restoration of the Damaged Instrument
The church and the organ suffered extensive damages in the 19th century, having experienced at least 4 strong earthquakes that took place in 1829, 1852, 1863, and 1880, and a number of disastrous typhoons. The instrument became totally inoperable for years and unsuccessful restoration attempts were made until World War II.
There were many efforts made to fully restore the instrument, and in 1972, a contract for total restoration was awarded to Johannes Klais Orgelbau KG in Bonn, Germany. The instrument was shipped there in 1973. While restoration was being done on the bamboo organ, a massive renovation project for the church took place. The church was fully restored to its original 19th century state through the help of the community of Las Pinas and its neighboring towns. The bamboo organ finally returned home in March 1975.
Birth of the Annual Bamboo Organ Festival
In celebration of its triumphant return to the Philippines, an inaugural concert was held in May 1975. The sound of music of the world's one and only bamboo organ was heard again, giving way to the annual International Bamboo Organ Festival.
Annually since 1976, the bamboo organ having been known around the world as one of the most unique musical instruments, can be seen, heard, and admired in its full glory one full week in February. Internationally acclaimed musicians gather together at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Las Pinas to play an array of musical pieces on this amazing instrument. This annual musical event was organized by the Bamboo Organ Foundation, Inc., supported by corporate sponsors, foundation members, St. Joseph parishioners, and individuals.
Now on its 37th year, the festival will be held from February 23 to 29, 2012.
Bamboo Organ Foundation, Inc.
The Bamboo Organ Foundation, Inc.. was established in 1978. It is a non-profit organization that strives to maintain and preserve the historic value of the bamboo organ. It is also the driving force behind the success of the annual International Bamboo Organ Festival. Its mission is "to engage in a cultural/musical presentation where festival artists, foreign and local visitors and friends meet with the purpose of creating new and rekindling old ties, enhancing musicality, and further promoting tourism development through the historic bamboo organ, the Philippines' and the world's priceless treasure".
The Diego Cera Organbuilders, Inc.
Since 1994, the bamboo organ has been under the care and maintenance of the Diego Cera Organbuilders, Inc., a local and first pipe organ building company in the Philippines. Said company strives to retain the high standard of the bamboo organ's quality and reliability to assure that this musical instrument's unique sound will continue to be heard and be experienced by the future generations.
Tribute to Fr. Diego Cera
It is noteworthy to quote this tribute to Fr. Diego Cera, the builder of the amazing bamboo organ:
Men have immortalized their names in paint and marble, but it was left for Padre Diego Cera to build to himself a monument in bamboo, and a more interesting and unique memorial could scarcely be found.
He came to the Philippines to build organs, and when he arrived, there was neither metal nor suitbable wood, nor tanned leather, nor wire, nor pipes, nor keys, nor anything else with which organs were usually made, but with a genius worthy of a 19th century edition, he rose to the occasion and built an organ of bamboo. ....George Miller, 1912
On November 24, 2003, the bamboo organ was declared as the National Culture Treasure by the National Museum of the Philippines.
The bamboo organ is regularly played during Masses at St. Joseph Catholic Church. Address is 1744 P. Diego Cera Ave, Las Pinas City, Philippines. Schedules are:
Daily Masses: 6 am and 6 pm
Sunday Masses: 6 am, 7:30 am, 9 am, 10:30 am, 3 pm, 4:30 pm, 6 pm, 7:30 pm
To support in the maintenance of this historical instrument, contact:
The Bamboo Organ Foundation, Inc.
St. Joseph Catholic Church
1744 P. Diego Cera Ave., Las Pinas City, Philippines
E-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org