Laura Lopez | Segovia (EFE).- Fernando and Pedro laughingly remember the “mischief” they did in the church of their town when they were eight-year-old altar boys and they tampered with the bellows of their great baroque organ so that it would not sound when the sacristan played it, until that he would get angry and run after them.
What these two children did not imagine then is that more than half a century later they would have to fight together so that the same instrument does not stop playing completely, as it will happen in a few years if it is not subjected to exhaustive restoration work budgeted for in a few years. 60,000 euros.
The life of this small Segovian town, Escalona del Prado, located about thirty kilometers from the provincial capital and where some 500 people now live, revolved around this instrument for decades.
Its sound is part of the collective memory of many of its neighbors and has starred in the soundtrack of the most important moments of their lives, such as the day they got married or baptized their children.
“The fact that heritage disappears means that the history and identity of a town, a region, a community disappears,” explains Pedro Montarelo, a member of the Friends of the Órgano de Escalona del Prado Association, in an interview with Agencia Efe.
In this town, which before the rural exodus in the second half of the 20th century had 1,200 inhabitants, the last generation that has grown up listening to the music of this organ remains and for this reason they see a certain urgency in its restoration.
“We believe that either it is done now or it will never be done, because we are the ones who still remember and have memory, so we believe that now is the time because this, if not, can be forgotten,” he comments in another interview. the president of the association, Fernando Sanz.
Almost 12,000 euros obtained from the 60,000 that are needed
The instrument is an Iberian-style baroque organ about seven meters tall and four meters wide, built for the church of Escalona by the master organ builder Manuel Sanz in 1785 with 618 pipes, of which 430 have been preserved.
Eight years ago, several volunteers from the town collaborated in a first phase of restoration, orchestrated by the master organ builder Rossend Aymí Escolà, in which they cleaned the instrument and carried out some improvements, such as the installation of an electric bellows.
“The first day we started working and the organist began to play, my hair stood on end, it is a very strong emotion”, Fernando Sanz confessed.
Facing a second phase, they have just completed a crowdfunding campaign through the Hispania Nostra association, with which they have raised 11,868 euros of the approximately 60,000 they need, which means that they have fallen “quite short” but not that They will give up their purpose.
Now they are studying new ways of financing, such as the possibility of access to the LEADER Funds of the European Union, to pay for the tasks that are missing and that a specialized workshop would have to carry out: Restore 80 tubes, replace another 188 and repair the distribution chamber of the air, among others.
If they manage to save their organ -currently it is at fifty percent of its capacity- the residents of this town have many planned plans, such as holding concerts that attract tourism and the creation of a school for organists with which to guarantee a generational change. take care of the instrument.
Towns empty of people but full of history
In the province of Segovia, of the 126 organs registered in the Catalog of Pipe Organs of Spain outside the capital, only a dozen still work, a deterioration resulting from the depopulation that emptied the towns from the 1950s onwards of the mechanization of agriculture and livestock.
As Pedro Montarelo, who chairs the Castilla y León Federation of Associations for the Defense of Heritage, explains, on many occasions this has given rise to the looting of the churches and hermitages of the towns, from which valuables such as bells have been stolen , organs or parts thereof to sell them off.
There are more citizen initiatives in the province focused on the recovery of its parish organ, such as in Fuentesáuco de Fuentidueña, a town of just over 200 residents that is also struggling to get 55,000 euros to revive its instrument, which has not had capacity for forty years to create music.
It pains the president of the Cultural Association of Friends of the Órgano de Fuentesaúco, Antonio Santiago, to imagine that the tubes of this precious instrument could end up as scrap metal, as has happened in other cases.
“Then they say that people are leaving and that the towns are emptying, but how are they not going to empty if the singularities of the towns and their history are not taken into account? Those things should be maintained, that’s what all the residents who have inherited these assets think,” Santiago told EFE.
They feel that they owe it to their ancestors, who bought the organ and took care of it for years: “The fact that a town is emptied does not mean that it has to be emptied of its history,” their heirs now defend.