Posted by: rbbadger | April 4, 2010

Easter at Myeongdong Cathedral

Here’s a closer shot of the sanctuary of Myeong-dong Cathedral.  The elaborate suspended canopy on the left rests above the bishop’s chair.  With a few exceptions, this sanctuary has remained more or less untouched since the time of its completion.  On the wall behind the high altar are images of the twelve apostles with their names in Latin and Korean. 

The choir which sings for the main Masses is really amazing.  I’ve heard them sing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis in a special concert at the Seoul Arts Center.  For the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on January 1, they managed to sing a lovely Mass setting by the French composer Gounod.  Following today’s Easter Sunday Mass with the Cardinal, they gave those of us who stayed an impromptu concert of several choral encores. 

The organ in this cathedral dates from 1985 and was built by Werner Bosch Orgelbau of Niestetal, Hesse, Germany.  It is one of many German instruments in Korea.  The largest organ in Asia is the massive six manual, 97 rank tracker(!) organ at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in Seoul built by Karl Schuke Berliner Orgelbau.

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Responses

  1. Fron Christchurch New Zealand – October 2012. It was my great pleasure and privelege to play this fine Bosch organ in the course of a concert tour to Asian Catholic cathedrals by the choir and orchestra of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Christchurch. Our city was devastated by earthquakes in 2010/11 and many of our churches and organs destroyed or severely damaged, including our cathedral. I cannot speak highly enough of the welcome we received from Father Bak and the music team at MeongDong, and the enthusiastic response to our concert from the large audience. I must also mention the cathedral’s “second” organ, located at the righthand side of the sanctuary – a fine 3-manual Allen installation. The placement of the speaker cabinets, and the acoustic of the cathedral made this an equally satisfying instrument to play. (Barrington Brinson)

    • Thank you so much for your comments. The Bosch is indeed a fine instrument. If you played any other instruments in Seoul or in other places in Korea, you might have noted that quite a few of them tend to be either German or Austrian and are trackers. The Sejong Centre for the Performing Arts has a massive six manual Schuke. This instrument is, I believe, the largest organ in Asia. (There is a five manual Schuke in the NHK Symphony Hall in Tokyo. Due to historical rivalries, the Koreans absolutely had to go one better than the Japanese, I suppose.)

  2. Thank you for your interesting comments. I knew about the massive six-manual Karl Shuke in the Sejong Arts Centre Music Hall and was very keen to see it. However I attended a symphony concert in this auditorium, but there was no organ visible – intriguing, as I had downloaded a photograph of the pipe frontage from the Shuke website. There was a solid wooden wall behind the orchestral platform, and I’m wondering if the organ is hidden from view behind this wall when not in use. This seems to me to be a tragedy, as my experience has always been that the organ frontage has been an architectural and artistic feature, which completes a concert auditorium.
    In Beijing, I attended a concert in the famous “Egg”, and there was the beautiful 4-manual Klais displayed in all its glory – with twin consoles, the main tracker one where you’d expect it, and a mobile console at stage level.. So ehat’s the story in Seoul – or was I in the wrong place?

    • I think you might have been at the Seoul Arts Centre as opposed to the Sejong Arts Centre. The Seoul Arts Centre has the wood panelling you describe. The Seoul Philharmonic has moved to the Seoul Arts Centre. The KBS Symphony Orchestra is there as well. The organ at the Sejong Centre is quite visible, but is off to the side.


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