IMAGE: CNS photo/Chris Sheridan
By Armando Machado
NEW YORK (CNS) — At the
Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in Lower Manhattan, Polina Maller, 11,
took a few moments from her violin lesson to talk about her appreciation for
“It’s fun, and I like it.
Music makes me feel like I’m free inside; it makes me feel like I could create
things, and then I feel good about myself,” Polina, a classical music
aficionado, said July 26 in an interview with Catholic New York, the
She was midway into a
week of a summer music camp on the cathedral grounds.
Eleven children took part
in the first-time program, “Pipes, Pedals & Peals,” sponsored by
the Friends of the Henry Erben Organ. The group is a charitable organization
devoted to the conservation and restoration of the 1868 Henry Erben Organ
inside St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral.
The five-day camp, which
operated three hours each morning, was open to children ages 7 to 12.
Organizers expect to make it an annual summer program.
The Friends group also
supports live musical performances, education and training of young musicians
and organists, after-school music education programs and organ demonstrations,
coordinators said. In addition, it supports concerts for visiting tour groups,
arts and cultural organizations, schools and universities.
The week’s activities for
the music camp children included lessons in playing the violin and handbell
chimes, and hands-on lessons about the history, uniqueness and intricacies of
the Henry Erben Organ — yes, hands-on, they got to play the special organ. Polina
played a prelude by Bach.
The wood Erben Organ has three
manuals, or keyboards — an organ keyboard played by the hands is called a
“manual.” It stands about 45 feet high and has 2,500 pipes. “It’s
about the size of a small apartment,” said Anne Riccitelli, president of the
The children also
assembled a special kit, creating a small, functioning organ similar to the
Henry Erben Organ. The Orgel miniature organ kit was developed in the
Netherlands; it is an educational organ that measures about 3 by 3 by 2 feet,
weighs more than 40 pounds, and has about 48 pipes.
children performed at a summer camp recital — with violin and handbell chimes
— during a July 30 Mass at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral; the liturgy,
celebrated by the pastor, Msgr. Donald Sakano, was followed by an Erben Organ
demonstration, and later a festive reception in the undercroft.
The cathedral’s organist
is Jared Lamenzo, who gave the demonstration. The children casually played the
small organ at the reception.
“They’re learning a lot
in one week — the small organ will help them understand how the big organ
works,” Lamenzo said while the children were learning how to play the handbell
chimes July 26, a lesson given by Michael Bodnyk, a cantor at both St.
Patrick’s Old Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue, the mother
church of the New York Archdiocese.
The violin lessons were
taught by Addie Deppa, who noted, “Music in general, I feel, brings on a window
of purity and beauty to children’s lives. I think it’s super important for
children to have music. …They (the music camp children) are wonderful;
they’re very eager to learn, a lot of energy.”
Robert Hodge, 10, also
was among the music camp children. “I love the class, and the teachers are
nice. It’s very educational,” Robert told Catholic New York.
Msgr. Sakano noted the old cathedral
community’s love of the arts. “We have a program called Basilica Voices,
where our young people who are preparing for first holy Communion and confirmation
are also being trained to sing. … And then we have the camp, which is not a
Catholic teaching program per se — but it is faithful in the sense that music
is the sound that God likes hearing.”
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Machado writes for Catholic New
York, newspaper of the Archdiocese of New York.
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