Reyes Organ and Choral Hall
The Reyes Organ and Choral Hall provides cathedral-like sound in a space built for performance, particularly that of sacred music. Every element in the room serves to make it as reverberant as possible. Wood pews not only provide an aesthetic charm but also assist in the sound quality. The high vaulted ceiling and hard walls help sound persist for as much as four seconds. There are no parallel surfaces in the room, eliminating the possibility of echo. Be still and you will notice that the hall is completely silent.
Home to the magnificent Fritts Organ, a gift of Marjorie O’Malley, the towering instrument has a case made of flawless 400-year-old Douglas fir and is crafted in the German style of organs from centuries past. In 2010 the Fritts was joined by a restored Neapolitan organ, the gift of an anonymous benefactor. The acquisition of this baroque Italian organ provides the opportunity to feature not only solo repertoire for the organ, but also showcase the organ playing with other instruments like the violin, as was common in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The hall is named for Chris and Anne Reyes.
The organ was designed and built over 15 months by the renowned craftsman, Paul Fritts. Once built, the organ was disassembled and moved to Notre Dame. Installation took two months.
The organ, whose construction took longer than a year, has 35 stops. Playing every combination of stops for one second and only one time would take more than one million years to play all of the stop combinations. Its 2,551 handcrafted pipes were poured from Mr. Fritts’ proprietary alloy formula. Weighing an astonishing 10,000 pounds, while electricity runs the organ lights and fans, organists can still manually pump three large bellows as they would have been in the 1700s. The inspiration for the instrument’s design is 18th-century German organs, similar to ones played by J.S. Bach.
Designed and crafted by Mr. Fritt’s sister, Judy, the organ’s carvings were inspired by the idea that “everything that has life and breath praises God.” Mollusks, waves, water lilies, roses, rabbits, owls, cardinals, grasses, tulips and more decorate the instrument. All told, the case’s carvings represent the four elements of creation: air, earth, fire, and water.