© France Dubois

Cindy Castillo plays Jongen's Sonata Eroïca

The last breath of our organ?

Tuesday 2 February at 3pm, BOZAR and the label Musique en Wallonie invite you to discover the last recording made on the organ of the Centre for Fine Arts before the devastating fire on 18 January. The interpretation of Joseph Jongen's Sonata Eroïca by Cindy Castillo is part of an album project to be released in the spring. This composition, which was created by the composer at the inauguration of the organ in 1930, symbolizes our determination to restore Victor Horta’s masterpiece.

Joseph Jongen wrote his Sonata Eroïca in 1930, for the inauguration of the brand new organ in the Great Hall of the Centre for Fine Arts. The organ, which included 74 stops, three manuals and one pedalboard, was designed by Joseph Stevens in collaboration with Victor Horta. On 6 November 1930, an eager audience first experienced the instrument’s monumental sound. At the time, Jongen, director of the Brussels Conservatory, and Paul de Maleingreau, organ professor at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and appointed organ composer for the Centre for Fine Arts, combined their own compositions with those of Johann Sebastian Bach and César Franck among others for a highly colourful musical programme. Indeed, the organ had been designed to play both music from the past as well as new compositions.

On the occasion of her recording of organ works by Joseph Jongen, Cindy Castillo offers an exclusive excerpt from her programme. Played by Jongen himself at the inauguration of the great organ, his Sonata Eroïca is influenced by the music of Franz Liszt and dedicated to the organist Joseph Bonnet.

In 2017, BOZAR rejoiced in discovering the infinite sounds of its organ, 50 years after a fire had reduced it to silence. Today, the organ has once again been threatened due to the fire on 18 January. Under such circumstances, Jongen’s Sonata Eroïca takes on great symbolic value. It encourages us to remain hopeful and to strive to overcome a new challenge is these difficult times.

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Organist Cindy Castillo has given recitals in several European countries, but also in Tokyo, New York and Lumumbashi. She teaches the organ at the IMEP Graduate School of Arts (Namur) and serves as titular organist at the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Brussels. Cindy Castillo has been raising her visibility on the international organ scene through distinctive programmes that explore the possible dialogues between the organ and other artistic expressions such as dance, video or electronic music. She is in touch with quite a few contemporary composers, such as Claude Ledoux, Jean-Pierre Deleuze and Maxime Denuc.

See also

  • An incredible saga

    A threat of silence hangs over the organ

    On Monday 18 January 2021, the roof of the Centre for Fine Arts caught fire. Although localised, the damage caused by the flames and the water used to extinguish them was significant. The organ – a musical and architectural gem set at the heart of the Henry Le Bœuf Great Hall – was one of the main victims, a new twist in the fate of this instrument whose dramatic history could provide the script for a television series. Devastated by a fire in 1967, it remained silent for half a century until its glorious reconstruction in 2017. We take a look back at the breathtaking saga of this pillar of our musical heritage.

    — published on