Cavaill Coll Organ survives the Notre Dame fire 

Published 9:38 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Main organ has only minor fire and water damage 


PARIS, FRANCE—An enormous fire broke out at the Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday night just after 6:00p.m. Early reports state that workmen on the site were alerted to the first fire alarm at 6:20p.m. workers conducted a search but could not find the source of the fire.  

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A second alarm alerted at 6:43p.m. before the fire was located in the wooden framework of the roof and spire. 

The wooden roof was burned completely in the inferno that led to the 300foot spire crumpling to the ground amidst the blaze. The fire was extinguished early Tuesday morning, there are no deaths reported from the incident and only one firefighter has reported injured. A miraculous fact considering the size of the fire and the amount of damage it caused to the cathedral. Investigators are currently looking into the cause of the fire and report that although the damage to the wooden roof is severe, the cathedral has remained structurally sound. 

A statement has been released from Thomas Monnet through his social media in regards to the condition of the Cavaille Coll organ. Monnet is one of the three organist Titulairs at the Notre Dame Cathedral.  

“Good morning to all, I am here the voice-holder of Eric Brottier, organ technician for the organ with whom I have the pleasure of working,” Monnet said. “The first observations on the instrument of Notre-Dame, including inside, show that the organ has obviously (Monnet insists on the term) not really suffered from the fire.” 

It has been preserved water flows thanks to the cover slab between the towers and did not suffer from the heat (Monnet believes the pipes are structurally preserved). This reassuring information will have to be supported by a thorough observation that has not yet be able to be realized.” 

Tryon resident and town Commissioner & Mayor Pro Tempore Emeritus Crys Armbrust has a personal connection to the French cathedral and especially to the Cavaille Coll organ.  

“The (main) organ that is currently there celebrated 150 years of service last month in March,” Armbrust said. “Cavaille Coll was foremost organ builder in the world and in the history of the world.” “It is incredible that the instrument has survived with minimal damage.  

Armbrust has been privileged to not only visit, but to play the main organ at Notre Dame on multiple occasions.  

“I was very fortunate the last time I was in Paris to have been able to take some of my students from the University of South Carolina up into the organ chamber and into the organ loft” Armbrust said. “They got to experience what it was like to play a service on that instrument. That was by the good grace of another of the Titulairs for giving us permission to use the organ.” 

Armbrust’s father studied under Pierre Cochereau, a former Titulair, playing the main organ to prepare and train to handle cathedral services. Armbrust’s father played the organ at the Episcopal Church in Tryon for over two decades. 

“That is the instrument that my father studied on for three years with then organist and Titulair Pierre Cochereau,” Armbrust said. “This is on of the most if not the most prestigious organs and organist positions in the world. The Titulairs are not paid, they do it for the privilege and prestige of the position. 

The main organ was able to survive with minimal damage from the fire thanks to its location within the stone section of the cathedral. The main organ is located in the center of the two main stone towers, directly in front of the West Rose window.  

Armbrust was relieved and over joyed at the statement released by Monnet in regards to the safety of the main organ. “This is nothing short of miraculous,” Armbrust said. “The historic Cavaille Coll organ at Notre Dame survived the fire with little apparent damage.” 

At the time of writing the Notre Dame fire fund has already reached a total of 600million Euros from French billionaires and companies to repair the damage done to the Notre Dame Cathedral.   

By Samuel Robinson