The organ was first built in 1608 - 1610, reputedly by Jean (= John) Ourry; priest and organ maker.
More about Jean Ourry
According to archives, the instrument, the casing and the loft where the former two stand were donated by Marie Maignard, daughter of Master Charles Maignard, Counselor to the King and Head of the Provincial Norman assembly (Parlement de Normandie) and married for seven years to the President of the Tax court (Cour des Aides) of Normandy. The lady died in 1610 and her husband had a white marble mausoleum erected for her that can still be seen in one of the side chapels (see the Artifacts pages)
The instrument was transformed and restored several times in the course of centuries - the last time in 1979 - but the case and the loft have reached us unchanged and the quality of their early 17th century decoration does attract attention.
(The whole is listed as National Heritage.)
The loft is composed of thirteen carved panels. In the centre, King David is playing the harp and is surrounded by four musician angels on the neighbouring panels. (1st photo)
Farther on the right, allegories, shown as young women, symbolise the Cardinal Virtues (from left to right) Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance.(2nd photo).
On the left side of the loft, the Church of the New Alliance is welcoming the three Theologal Virtues : Faith, Hope and Charity.
Caryatids help support the lower part of the case.
Carved wood patterns of interlacing foliage (typical of the period) impart the case with gracefulness and lightness
At the top of the case, the towers are crowned with musician angels. These wood statues come from the chapel of the local hospital and were set up here in 1819.
Only a few pipes can be seen in the towers, although the instrument proper contains 2,800 pipes distributed among thirty one stops.
Specialists of music praise the excellent quality of the instrument that also offers old stops that, they say, are seldom so well preserved and so well balanced. Indeed, Mr Derasse, an American artist who recorded a CD in the church in May 2005 writes:
"The Organ at the Collegiale Notre-Dame de Vernon [...] is worthy of special note. It was originally built in 1610-15 by Jean Ourry, and many of the original stops have been retained. There were significant alterations, additions and upgrades in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, but each was respectful of the clarity and transparency of Ourry's original conception. In addition, the church is supportive to the organ's innate sound: it possesses atmosphere without muddy reverberation and permits a blossoming of sound with little loss of transparency."
Specification of the organ
|Listen to the organ at the Collegiale with two extracts from Mr Derasse
and Bowen's CD
Martini - Sonata al post communion (476 ko- MP3) - Daquin - Noël , sur les flutes (501 ko - MP3)
More information about the artists and the CD can be found at http://www.dominicderasse.com/dominic-derasse-home.html