Hand-crafted 1920s organ for papal mass arrives


Hand-crafted 1920s organ for papal mass arrives

Dubai - It will be played in support of a 125-person choir as well as eight brass players.


Kelly Clarke

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Published: Thu 31 Jan 2019, 8:34 PM

Last updated: Thu 31 Jan 2019, 10:40 PM

"A mixture of pride, delight and a bit of fear and anxiety, too." That was the response from David Mason when asked how he took the news that the church organ he designed and built will be played at the historic papal mass in Abu Dhabi on February 5. 
"When you take on these high-profile challenges, it's a double-edged sword. If all goes well, it can propel you onto a great global platform. But if there's a hitch, it could bring with it a lot of regret. Of course, I'm hoping for the former."
Speaking to Khaleej Times on Wednesday - the same day his hand-crafted organ landed in the UAE after being insured to travel for about Dh460,000 (GBP97,000) - Mason, the owner of Regent Classic Organs in the UK, said he based it on a digital replica of an old classic. 
"It took about six months to design and build and it's unashamedly based on a carbon copy of an Ernest Skinner organ from 1929. It displays all the period detailing in terms of design from what is expected from an instrument built in the 1920s."
It was only in the second week of January when Mason and his team got confirmation that the organ would be played at the papal mass. When asked how he feels about someone else playing an instrument he laboured for months over - namely Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports and sole organist at the papal mass - he said he's the right man for the job. 
"I'm delighted Paul has been tasked with the job. In the digital organ world, he is a very substantial name and his interest and passion for the organ is amazing. Not only that, he is a brilliant organist. Paul takes his love for the organ to the extreme and that is commendable in our community."
Although there is no guarantee that Mason will be able to attend the mass itself, as the only person with the knowledge to fix it, he is hoping for a last-minute miracle so he can "be on standby with a screwdriver" if anything does go wrong.
"It's a complicated piece of equipment that needs due love and attention . and the right attention if so needed." And on the day, he has high expectations for what's to come. 
"This will be played in support of a big, 125-person choir as well as eight brass players, so in contrast to many papal masses, the music will be much more of a feature. It will play a more integral part, not just the usual few minutes to accompany hymms, so it will have the chance to blossom on-stage," he said. 

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