17 Apr 2019

Notre-Dame Organ ‘beacon of light’

From Upbeat, 10:56 am on 17 April 2019

Notre-Dame de Paris is a “beacon of light” to organists around the globe, according to a Kiwi organist who performed there in 2018.

Thomas Gaynor’s comments follow the devastating fire at Notre-Dame. Initial reports suggest the 8000-pipe Great Organ survived the blaze.

Kiwi organist Thomas Gaynor rehearses at Notre-Dame

Kiwi organist Thomas Gaynor rehearses at Notre-Dame Photo: Eric Tyson

New Zealand-born Thomas performed at Notre-Dame in August as part of the Summer Concert Series. “It was an awe-inspiring experience being high up in the organ gallery on the back wall with a view over the entire building,” he says. “Sitting in that loft, where so many musicians have made music for millions of people over centuries was a surreal feeling.”

The history of the organ, mixed with the sound it produced resulted in an unforgettable experience for Thomas. “The sounds that it made hugely inspired me through their warmth and gentle but stern power that rolled through the cathedral,” he says.

Organist Thomas Gaynor

Organist Thomas Gaynor Photo: Supplied

“I recall being struck at the bizarre nature of the acoustic playing from the end of such a huge building as the sound takes more than a second to come back to you; the first note I played sounded like I was in a tiny room, but once it had bounced all around the edifice and returned to me I understood why Notre-Dame is such a special place.”

Organ of Notre Dame de Paris

Organ of Notre Dame de Paris Photo: Eric Chan

He’s hoping music will rise again from Notre-Dame. “It’s such a sad feeling to imagine that much of it is destroyed,” he says. “However, as is the timeless nature of such places, it is comforting to know that due to the timeless nature of music, beautiful sounds will eventually resonate through the cathedral again as time allows.”