Paris pulls out the stops to restore Notre-Dame’s grand organ

Workers will dismantle the organ’s five keyboards, pedalboard and the 109 stop knobs that control airflow to its 8,000 pipes, some as high as 10 meters. (Reuters)
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Updated 03 August 2020

Paris pulls out the stops to restore Notre-Dame’s grand organ

  • The organ was not burned by the flames that destroyed the cathedral’s roof and spire on April 15, 2019
  • But it was covered in soot and damaged by humidity

PARIS: Workers started dismantling Notre Dame’s grand organ on Monday to let experts restore it in time for the fifth anniversary of the fire that damaged the Paris cathedral.
The organ — the biggest musical instrument in France — was not burned by the flames that destroyed the cathedral’s roof and spire on April 15, 2019. But it was covered in soot and damaged by humidity.
“It is an absolute miracle that it has survived. An organ like this is enormous and looks indestructible, but it is actually very fragile,” Olivier Latry, one of Notre Dame’s official organ players, told Europe 1 radio.
Workers will dismantle its five keyboards, pedalboard and the 109 stop knobs that control airflow to its 8,000 pipes, some as high as 10 meters.
The organ which sits under the Gothic cathedral’s huge rose window, was completed in 1867, shortly after the spire, which crashed through the roof during the fire.
“We can’t wait for Notre Dame and the organ to be restored. There is some kind of magic between this instrument and the place ... it makes the stones sing,” Philippe Lefebvre, another cathedral organist, told TF1 television.
President Emmanuel Macron promised after the fire to rebuild Notre Dame within five years.
Church officials also hope Notre Dame will be open for mass by 2024, when Paris is due to host the Olympic Games.


First UAE sighting of one of the world’s rarest birds in Abu Dhabi 

Updated 20 September 2020

First UAE sighting of one of the world’s rarest birds in Abu Dhabi 

  • Known as a Steppe Whimbrel, the bird is estimated to have a global population of only around 100
  • It is believed to have travelled in time for the autumn bird migration

DUBAI: One of the rarest birds in the world has been spotted in Abu Dhabi by two members of the Emirates Bird Records Committee (EBRC), according to state news agency WAM. 
Known as a Steppe Whimbrel, the bird - estimated to have a global population of only around 100 - was seen by Oscar Campbell and Simon Lloyd at the Saadiyat Beach Golf Course, WAM reported on Saturday.
Believed to have travelled in time for the autumn bird migration, the Steppe Whimbrel is an extremely rare sub-species of the widespread Whimbrel, which regularly passes through the Emirates in spring and autumn.
The Steppe Whimbrel seen in Abu Dhabi is believed to have been born this year, making it the first time a juvenile Steppe Whimbrel has been spotted anywhere in the world, according to WAM.
“On August 29, we were studying around 20 whimbrels on the Saadiyat Beach golf course. We were stunned when one flew off showing the distinctive white wings, clearly different from the other birds,” Campbell and Lloyd told WAM. 
“We immediately realized the potential significance of this so we concentrated on observing the bird and obtaining photographs, allowing us to check the key identification features,” they said.
Campbell and Lloyd then shared their photographs with world’s top expert on Steppe Whimbrels, Gary Allport, who confirmed their findings. 
“The discovery of a Steppe Whimbrel in Abu Dhabi is remarkable in itself, and confirms our suspicion that the migration route of the sub-species passes through the Arabian peninsula region,” Allport said. 
“What is even more remarkable is that this is the first time ever, anywhere in the world, that a juvenile Steppe Whimbrel has been seen in the field…It’s an amazing find,” he added. 
The Saadiyat Beach Golf Course management was delighted with the discovery. 
“When you look at the significance of sighting the Steppe Whimbrel in Abu Dhabi, its history and the subspecies actually being declared extinct in 1995, it is pretty amazing,” Clinton Southorn, Cluster Director of Agronomy for managers Troon Golf, told WAM.
“This is one of the reasons the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club has worked hard to achieve its Audubon certification and showcase the positive environmental impact the course can have on the environment,” he added.