Making it possible to do what cannot be done in a church or a concert hall: to discover the magic of the instrument, by penetrating the interior of a huge organ, losing oneself in the multitude and variety of the pipes and the fascinating machinery; and then gradually learn how it works on the technical level; discovering the pipe families and hearing the different sounds...
In the old Cassagnac mill in Plaisance du Gers, there will be installed a huge organ that you can visit and make your own. A monumental organ, programmed to start up every ten minutes, giving visitors a unique experience in the very heart of the forest of sound.
This unique experience is the reason for creating “Cité de l'Orgue”, for which there exists no equivalent at this time anywhere in Europe.
In order for immersion in the Monumental Organ to be completely effective, visitors will begin their tour with an educational overview. The overview is intended to be particularly attractive for younger visitors. The majority of the various stages will be inter-active, not with digital terminals, but through physical contact with the actual mechanical elements, as in a Hands-On Museum.
The organ is endowed with robust, very visual technology. It is easy to enable visitors, whether adults or youngsters, to inter-act, so as to gradually learn about the components of the organ.
This will be a voyage through history, technology and the arts : a visit of discovery within everybody's reach !
It will also be a concert hall, with the facility to project silent movies with organ accompaniment; a study area for students; a workshop for young people; and a place of musical activity for people with special needs .
“Cité de l'Orgue”, the only location in Europe where people with special needs can have actual musical experience on an acoustic instrument. All other musical systems designed for people with special needs (other than percussion devices), function with electro-acoustic sounds. Only the Sensory Organ, invented in Plaisance du Gers, enables a person to play a large organ directly, by means of movement sensors.that can be programmed. Experience acquired by those using the Sensory Organ over the last ten years shows that psycho-sensory stimulation is far more effective when using an acoustic instrument than when using electro-acoustic sounds.
“Cité de l'Orgue” will provide a stimulating site for the work of researchers like Professor Jean-Michel Vives (University of Nice) or Marc Bozzetto Director of the Atman Centre for Osteopathy Training (Sophia Antipolis), who have begun doing research based on the Sensory Organ.
“Cité de l'Orgue”, the only place in France where one can experience new organ-related technology. A unique interface between composers, organ-builders and performers.
“Cité de l'Orgue”, in itself a symbolic project, also enables appreciation of others :
Peculiar to France is the fact that only three concert halls in the country can boast an organ. This is why the full secular repertoire for the organ – chamber music, cinema music or jazz – is rarely played in France. “Cité de l'Orgue” will bring this unknown repertoire into focus, intending to inspire other compositions in relation to other instruments. (like the piano or percussion...).
“Cité de l'Orgue” is a polyvalent tool, intended for
“Cité de l'Orgue” includes residential space for musicians
Plaisance du Gers is ideally situated at the heart of the larger South-West Region of France.
Located on one of the pilgrim routes of St. James of Compostella, at the junction of the administrative regions of Occitania, the Mediterranean, and New Aquitaine.
It is worth remembering that between 1979 and 1988, Plaisance du Gers was involved in an exceptional cultural adventure – the construction from scratch of a monumental organ, with 4 manuals and 43 stops, all completely new.
Exceptional in more ways than one, it involved young people from the village, and inspired more broadly a magnificent cultural and economic development, in particular :
Thus for nearly 30 years, the instrument and the church housing it have hosted long-term pedagogical, artistic and musical activities, teaching, welcoming artists in residence, visiting groups, artistic performance and exhibitions. Concerts are well-attended, with audiences of 150 on average. Also, a fundamental dynamic link has been developed between the organ and the “Organ Builders Workshop of Plaisance du Gers”, specialising in the creation of new instruments, in France and abroad.
As both an outstanding feature and as a symbol of this historical fortified town, the church organ of Plaisance du Gers is the only French organ that is easily accessible to passing visitors, and anyone can obtain the key, to be able to play it at any time.
By its generous availability to visitors, or to organists at Plaisance du Gers and their pupils, and to resident composers, this instrument is certainly one of the most frequently played organs in France, having been in action an average of six hours a day since its inauguration in 1988.
Finally, the church organ of Plaisance du Gers is the FIRST IN THE WORLD that can be played by those who are physically or mentally challenged. Through its use of movement sensors without intermediary keys, this invention has been entitled a Sensory Organ.
With such a plethora of activities, constantly growing over three decades, the fascination and curiosity of the public, the interest and involvement of local residents and the enthusiasm of professionals, Plaisance du Gers has rightly been chosen to be the home of a “Cité de l'Orgue”, THE “Cité de l'Orgue”, UNIQUE IN FRANCE and the whole of Europe – it being true that there is no system or device at this time that gives the wider public the opportunity to discover the organ under such favourable conditions and surroundings.
Solidly planted in the centre of Plaisance du Gers, the Cassagnac Mill was the largest flour-mill in the area. In being converted into the “Cité de l'Orgue”,
the mill can become a 'positive energy' building (BEPOS), thanks to its hydroelectric potential.
The building will have air-conditioning, and will be able to function at a stable temperature all year round.