Purchase of an Organ for Coral Accompaniment

Project location: ITALY, Naples
Project start date: February 2011 - Project end date: February 2011
Project number: 2010-83
Beneficiary: Congregazione dell’Oratorio di S. Filippo Neri

The present project, which received a grant from the Nando Peretti Foundation,  aims to present to the people of Naples the possibility of a regular celebration of the Solemn High Mass of the Ancient Roman Rite. The aim is to offer this particular liturgical form, accompanied by the best available musical resources of Naples, in the centre of the ancient cultural city, using the resources of this city for so long lost to public view, namely its music.
To do this a choir of professional singers has been formed. Young people particularly, many students of the Conservatory, seeking to contextualize their musical studies in a project which will go beyond merely musical performance. The voices are prepared, but critically lacking is an appropriate liturgical organ which can suitably accompany the singers at this renewal of the Ancient Roman Rite celebration in central Naples.
The original monumental Church possessed 3 baroque organs which have all been destroyed either by war or by theft. At the present moment the main Church lacks any musical instrument of any kind and without an instrument approximately 98% of the musical archive possessed by the Oratory would be precluded from being performed.
A small (positive) organ would immediately fulfil all the necessary requirements: to accompany the sung chanta and to double the tonality in polyphonic musical settings. Furthermore it is essential that the said instrument be easily moveable which would allow it to be used as a basso continuo in moments of musical ensembles and also to sustain congregational singing in liturgical celebrations, at the meetings of the ‘Great Oratory' and to insure the execution of Italian organ compositions of the 16th and 17th centuries (e.g. Frescobaldi, Zipoli, Durante etc.)

The Congregation of the Oratory of Naples is particularly sensible to the liturgy. While it certainly has as its first purpose the spiritual goal of the salvation of souls, there is also an extremely important and relevant cultural dimension. The Oratory's Church has always been the focus and point of reference for the clergy of Naples and tradition has it that the seminarians who lived in front of the Oratory complex were regularly sent to the Oratory to observe and learn the solemn functions which were carried out in the Oratory Church.

The purchase of an organ is an important step in this renewal of the cultural, liturgical and musical life in Naples, most particularly for the youth of the city.

The Congregation of Priests of the Oratory was founded by St. Philip Neri in 1561 in Rome at the Church of S. Girolamo della Carità (from which they take their Italian name ‘Girolamini'). The Cardinals Francesco Tarugi and Cesare Baronio (Distinguished Historian) desired to found a second Oratory in 1572 in Naples, at the time the only unique Metropolis of the Italian peninsula, which met with outstanding success. In fact within two decades the group was able to acquire an entire insula of the city (known as the Decumani) and was able to construct ex novo the buildings which became known as the ‘Complex of the Girolamini' which extended for the space of a hectare. The monumental Church was called the Domus aurea because of its particular beauty, its unique richness and because of the attendance of the nobility. Besides this it became famous for its music production, and for its musical archive which is presently the subject of an enormous work of cataloguing and restoration: a fount of musical resource yet almost entirely unexplored and of primary importance for the knowledge of the place and role of sacred music in Naples during the 17th and 18th centuries. This collection is second in importance only to that of the conservatory of Naples famous citizen s. Pietro a Majella. Once the work is completed access will be possible to around 6500 musical compositions.

The art collection of the Girolamini is amongst the most important civic art collections where it is possible to admire the famous artists of meridionale painting from the 16th to the 18th centuries. The Congregation itself sought to exercise a spiritual role by entering into the culture of the moment and particularly in the areas of music, literature and philosophical erudition. Proof of this comes from the fact that inside the large complex one is able to find the well-known Biblioteca dei Girolamini (a public and state Library).
Actually recently the Congregation has proposed a series of spiritual-culture projects of notable value. A brief summary: The hidden treasures of the Girolamini Music for Harpsichord I edition 2009, II edition 2010 (edited by Canio Fidanza and Enza Caiazzo). An entire series of Music of the Royal Court: in 1500s (Sep 2009); in 1600s (Oct 2009); in 1700s (Sep and Oct 2010): a Collection of Profane European and Neopolitan Music, edited by Ellida Basso who directs the present chorale of the Church. On 30 January 2010 the choir performed a spiritual concert entitled ‘The Pastoral Dialogue of G. Anerio,' while for the feast of St. Philip Neri in May they presented ‘The English Psalms of Haydn.' In September of 2009 and 2010 there was an exhibition of the Sacred Reliquaries held in the Monumental Church, an exhibition entitled ‘Faithful even unto death'.
Certainly the greatest effort of recent times was placed in the re-opening of the Monumental Church of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Naples. This Church re-opened to the public on 19 September 2009, re-offering to the City of Naples and to the world a real jewel of the Baroque and point of spiritual reference. The Congregation has also managed to restore and re-establish the ancient feast of the co-Patron of Naples, St. Philip Neri, after nearly 40 years of silence. The Congregation since its inception has placed heavy emphasis on the involvement of the population of Naples and the involvement also of the civic institutions in its activities. It does this with a spiritual purpose and aims too to emphasise and regain many of the spiritual traditions which are so valued and dear to the Neopolitans. Next 31 October there will be restarted the ‘Great Oratory' according to the venerable Oratorian tradition: readings of sacred texts and commentaries together with musical interludes (Palestrina, M.A. Ingegneri, Animuccia, Anerio and A. Scarlatti). With the collaboration of the Students of Francesco Calzolaro and of Prof. Canio Fidanza of the Neopolitan Conservatory the Congregation of the Oratorians in Naples will begin also at that time an experiment of a coro di voci bianche.

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