Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Pipe Organs under EU threat?

The Times has a troubling report this morning that highlights how ridiculous many EU directives and indeed how mindless many bureaucracies are! It seems that all pipe organs which are not powered by hand bellows are going to fall foul of an EU directive that takes effect on 1 July 2006 because the organ is considered an electrical equipment and the pipes of the organ have a lead content that exceeds the legal limit.

But has anyone actually been poisoned by a pipe organ? As Richard Morrison comments in The Times, he has been poisoned by bad playing on an organ but never by this 'King of Instruments' (as Mozart called it). Let's hope that some commonsense will prevail. But as yet, the bureaucrats don't seem on course to disappoint our dim opinion of them!

Read more about it at the Times Online here and also at this organ afficionadoes' site.

St Cecilia come to our aid!

4 Comments:

Anonymous Joe Hennon said...

Hi,
Just a couple of remarks:
This might look like it's the EU gone mad and adopting a Directive against lead in church organs. In fact it's a Directive aimed at controlling the use of hazardous waste such as mercury, cadmium, lead etc. in order to minimise long-term environmental threat. It's mostly aimed at the electrical and electronics industries.

I can reassure you that:
- existing church organs are outside the scope of the directive and can anyway continue to be repaired or upgraded using lead, i.e. Salisbury, St Paul's Catahedrals and Birmingham Town Hall are safe from EU intrusion!
- new organs are outside the scope of the directive if they use bellows as the source of energy, only organs using electric power as a source of energy are affected
- British industry builds on average 3 very big or big electric powered pipe organs a year and about 40 small or medium sized organs annually.
- Should they want to continue to use lead, they could apply for a exemption but so far nobody has.
regards

5:53 pm  
Blogger Br Lawrence, O.P. said...

Joe,

Thanks for your clarification and comment. I am assuming that you are speaking in some official capacity for the EU?! If so, perhaps you ought to also contact 'The Times' and the DTI in Britain, both of which I am reliant upon for this post.

Anyway, I am glad that the pipe organ is safe!

7:06 pm  
Anonymous Joe Hennon said...

Hi
Yes, I work for the Communication DG of the European Commission. We have indeed contacted both the DTI and The Times (and the story has now spread to other newspapers such as the Daily Telegraph, Express and even the New York Times which is exactly how these 'Euromyths' spread). Unfortunately, the press and their related websites do not allow us to reply as directly and publicly as your site does! They don't usually bother to check their facts in advance and they rarely publish any corrections...
regards,

12:49 pm  
Blogger Daniel Muller said...

Frater, quod scripsisti, scripsisti!

Mr. Hennon's answer does not address the issues. I think it is rather an indication of how this draconian legislation was written in the first place, and a worrisome affirmation of its danger.

- existing church organs are outside the scope of the directive

Yes, that is what it seems commenters have understood.

But organs do not last forever, they are sometimes abandoned for periods of time due to external reasons, and tastes change and from time to time deem even those instruments still in good or repairable condition obsolete. "Neo-baroque," anyone? "Octopods?"

Plus, many organ builders do maintenance. No new contracts means no organbuilders means no "factory"-trained technicians. But then, I suppose Britain counts on importing labor anyhow.

- only organs using electric power as a source of energy are affected

Id est, all new pipe organs except historically-informed museum toys. How many organists can afford their own bellows-boy(s) anyway? How many potential musicians will interest themselves in the organ if they cannot sneak into an empty church and flip a switch? If besides paying a professional for lessons, they have to pay a bellows-boy without even knowing how to play the organ?

Modern buildings in countries with growing populations are larger and larger, requiring larger and larger organs. (Come to think of it, this may not apply to Britain either!) Will simple additions of pipe ranks, common nowadays, be acceptable?

- British industry builds on average 3 very big or big electric powered pipe organs a year and about 40 small or medium sized organs annually.

Most probably all electrical. Plus at least some organs installed in Britain are not British made. I already see a Klais organ on his list of three.

- Should they want to continue to use lead, they could apply for a exemption but so far nobody has.

Possibly because the law has not yet taken effect. And if the application ($$) is denied? If exemptions are expected and acceptable, why are they not part of the law in the first place?

7:49 am  

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