The location for our Opus 37 wasn’t the only new feature being recognized during the dedication ceremony at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Berlin, NH this May.
The organ’s four facade doors, originally designed to protect pipes, now showcase paintings by Berlin artist Andre Belanger. Andre describes the project:
The images on these doors of the Bedient Organ Opus 37 are inspired by a concept that was stated at the time of the commission for the work: angels playing instruments and making music. There are artsy elements involved: color, rhythm, balance, harmony, movement, texture, dynamics, all words that one would expect in a music/painting composition. But, math, geometry, fractal geometry, sacred geometry are actively at work here, as well. The placement of angels, halos, instruments, hands, animals in the landscape, are positioned at key intersections of lines in the composition according to a concept often referred to as the The Golden Section, or The Golden Rectangle, or The Golden Mean, a constant proportion of square to rectangle that exists in nature virtually everywhere. Like calculating the circumference of a circle using pi, this proportional measurement uses phi in its calculation. It is often referred to as The Divine Measurement.
Note that there are halos around each angel, and halos around both a book and a scroll. There are different colors bordering different groups of halos. Hands gesture and are placed in mathematically chosen positions. Eyes are symbolically opened or closed. There are two angels, one with a hand held organ, one with a viola da gamba. There is a metamorphosis from birds to angels. Some angels are singing, some are not. Wing gesture and color is significant. Subtle skin tones play a part. clothing is also important. The instruments are inspired by Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque instruments. The work is adorned with 23k gold leaf and pure silver leaf. The number of silver sections is symbolic. Suspended in the paint in two of the panels is a ground shell from the Sea of Galilee, some olive wood particles from Jerusalem and some earth from Berlin, NH. If one examines this piece closely, many conscious decisions will surface. The greatest part of the painting is that, if the viewer chooses to look deeply enough, one will perceive ‘the artist in all of us’.
The dedication concludes an unsually mobile two years for the organ, which we first installed in Kingston, OK in 1993. In 2008 we relocated the organ to Berlin, NH, after its owners, Dr. Susan Ferre’ and her husband moved to the neighboring town of Gorham, NH. Ferre had loaned the organ and other vintage instruments to Chapel Arts, a private performance space and art gallery. We then moved the 10 stop tracker organ to St. Barnabas in 2009 where Susan serves as organist.
Susan said, “since 1993 when the organ was made we had looked for the right artist to paint something celestial (perhaps angels holding instruments), or something pointing to history, but had not found the right person until we saw the work of Ander Belanger. It happens by accident that his shop is located very near the church where the organ is now located…”