A state-of-the-art digital organ has been installed in St Peter’s Basilica to enable high-quality rebroadcasting of papal celebrations to crowds in St Peter’s Square and internationally.
The electronic organ made its debut on the evening of 24 December as Pope Francis celebrated Midnight Mass.
Until now, the musical production of the pipe organ had been picked up using microphones and rebroadcast digitally throughout the Basilica and St. Peter’s Square. This method has caused some frequency distortion and quite a few problems related to background noise, the Director of the Pontifical Sistine Chapel Choir, Msgr Palombella, told Vatican News.
The new system, he said, is able to fill the entire acoustic space of one of the world’s largest places of worship.
He added that the problem of filling St Peter’s Basilica with organ music came about only after the Second Vatican Council.
“Before Vatican II,” Msgr. Palombella explained, “papal celebrations were held in the Sistine Chapel, and the problem with broadcasting internationally or using microphones didn’t yet exist.
“Following the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council, the whole of St. Peter’s Basilica began to be used for celebrations. This necessitated a continuous search for solutions to diffuse high-quality sound,” Msgr. Palombella said.
Despite the presence of this new, digital organ for large celebrations, the traditional pipe organ will remain in use for smaller occasions.
PICTURE: The Pope celebrates Midnight Mass at St Peter's Basilica on 24 December, 2017