Dear Friends and Associates,
Last month we announced that Allen Organ Company was chosen to be
the exclusive organ of the Sistine Chapel Choir for papal celebrations in
St. Peter's Square. I have since traveled to the Vatican with Allen Vice
President Barry Holben and Jean-Philippe Le Trevou (Allen's French
representative) to install the three-manual Allen GeniSys Organ. I would
like to share details about this unique experience, as well as some
exciting news about the increased significance the Allen organ will play
at the Vatican.
We were initially informed that the organ would be used by the Sistine
Chapel Choir. During our visit we learned that the Vatican wanted the
organ to also be used for musical requirements at St. Peter's Basilica
itself. What an exciting turn of events. Fortunately we designed the
organ with a flexible audio system that could allow for the expanded
Upon arrival we were met at a gate to the Vatican and taken directly to
the Basilica. We were pleasantly surprised to find the organ crates near
where the Basilica's Choir is located. After uncrating the organ we spent
hours setting it up. Late in the morning Monsignor Massimo Palombella,
Maestro of the Sistine Chapel Choir and responsible for the Basilica's
overall music, came to preview the organ. His positive response led to a
remarkable tum of events. We were informed that on the following day
the organ would be tested in the Basilica for broader usage.
It was fortuitous that the organ's audio system included external speaker cabinets and
Audio Outs with the ability to connect the instrument to the Basilica's PA system,
something we prepared for as we initially understood the organ was to be used in St.
Thursday morning we started preparing the organ for the test. The instrument's speaker
cabinets were moved on their custom dollies behind the Choir in a way that would allow
the organ's sound to reflect up into the Basilica. We then connected the Audio Outs to the
Basilica's PA system and waited for 3:00.
During this time period Juan Paradell-Sole, organist of the Pope, came for his introduction
to the organ. His response was positive. We spent part of the two-hour Basilica lunch
period, 12:00 to 2:00PM, working with Juan Paradell-Sole and were nearly alone in St.
Peter's. This was a remarkable and once-in-a-lifetime experience!
© Musikhaus Cremer
At 3:00PM, Maestro Palombella, organist Juan Paradell-Solé, and the Basilica's sound manager arrived. We connected the sound system to the organ and
did additional voicing. The organ was then heard throughout the Basilica and it did not take long to see smiles from the three "judges". Maestro
Palombella then informed us that the Allen organ would first be used in the Basilica during the following week. It is not possible to put into words our
excitement at that moment.
There were many side-discussions that occurred during these amazing two days. One related to the Basilica's pipe organ, an instrument with pipe's
speaking on both sides of the Nave. It was evident that this organ is not well received and does not adequately serve the Basilica's music ministry. Issues
include tuning, as well as an inability to properly mix and coordinate the organ's sound throughout the Basilica.
We were also privileged to be invited by Maestro Palombella for a full rehearsal of the Sistine Chapel Choir at the Sistine Chapel itself. We were treated to
not only a tremendous musical event, but also able to view the works of Michelangelo and others.
Allen organs have been installed in many prestigious institutions over the years. Now, being
able to place the Vatican at the top of this list is amazing and humbling. On a more personal
note, the first Allen church organ installed by my father was in a small parish church in
Allentown. The church grew and ultimately became the Cathedral of the Allentown Diocese
that now houses a large Allen organ. The Company has come a long way.
As I reflect on the amazing story of how an Allen organ has become a part of St. Peter's
Basilica, I find the need to consider decades of efforts by too many to mention. Thousands of
Allen employees over the decades played roles in producing the highest quality products.
Our engineers created advanced platforms that enable the organs to be voiced to the most
exacting and artistic requirements. Our dealers made and maintain organ installations that
insure customer satisfaction. And, it was a dealer rental in Detroit just a few months ago that
resulted in Maestro Palombella becoming excited about the possibility of an Allen organ in
In closing, I offer a huge "thank you" and congratulations to all involved in the thousands of
efforts and events over the years that led to this amazing story.
Steven A. Markowitz President