I closed out my concert tour with a performance in the church at the Instituto Nun’Alvres, Caldas da Saúda (Santo Tirso), a Jesuit secondary school in a spa town.
There actually had been another planned concert in between Porto and this one to be held in Braga. The visual effect of the double organs at Braga (and pictures don’t do it justice), is breathtaking. It is a riot of color and decoration. I couldn’t wait to have my picture taken seated at the keys. As a prime venue for the historic Portuguese organ music on my program, ranking with Évora and Óbidos, I was looking forward to it even though the manual has only 45 notes including a short octave.
Unfortunately a restoration project gone bad (a scandal, I was told) left the organ off-limits to concerts for the time being. The US Consulate just didn’t get the memo in time. I had a chance to visit the cathedral though and at least see the organ. While there I showed my recently dated concert programs to one of the docents, hoping I still might be able to play it even if not in a concert. He graciously inquired, but the answer was still “no.”
Anyway, I made it to my last stop here in Caldas da Saúda to a more prosaic instrument from 1968 by Sampaio, using a console from an earlier 20th c. organ built by Juan Dourte of Bilbao. Sporting two full size manuals and pedal (60/32) with a combination action, I modified my program a little to include some more modern pieces, including the Lynwood Farnam “Toccata on ‘O Filii et Filiae'” but I don’t remember if I played it on a single 4’ Flute as I had just done by necessity in Porto!
My host was Fr. Domingos Peixoto, a renowned young scholar of historic Portuguese organ music and organist. He has since gone on to perform around the world himself. It was nice to have someone to speak to about the organs I had just played on tour.
After the concert we had an outdoor dinner at a restaurant across from a bullring. We learned that in Portugal the bull fights don’t end in the death of the bull, and we really wanted to go see one. Unfortunately there were none scheduled for the remainder of our visit.
So it was from here we said goodbye to a really great experience which was equal parts artistic, educational and cultural.
Let’s close with a sonata by the composer who made this all possible, Domenico (or Domingo as he is locally known) Scarlatti.