Located at the top of Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Maria Regina Church in Avalon forms part of The Catholic Parish of Pittwater. Along with Sacred Heart Church in Mona Vale, Pittwater Parish itself is part of the larger Diocese of Broken Bay, currently under the care of the Salvatorian Order.
A church that embraces both traditional church music, as well as incorporating more contemporary styles, in early 2016, the Parish was searching for a new organ in order to replace their existing organ.
Father George Kolodziej is the Parish Priest for both Maria Regina and Sacred Heart Churches. He was kind enough to speak with us about the new Rodgers 578 organ that was custom installed for the Maria Regina Church in Avalon.
“The organ we wanted to update was the organ at Maria Regina Church in Avalon.
We were looking for something that could really help to praise God, through our singing, through the music and through playing the instrument.”
While choices for new organs were plentiful, there were certain requirements that had to be taken into account before new a instrument was installed. These included the unique specifications of the venue and the church’s acoustics and most importantly – the response from the congregation.
“We needed an instrument that was suitable for that specific venue and that specific church. There are many kinds of organs available of course, but they might not be suitable for a particular church.”
Because I knew Kerry personally through other churches, I sought advice for what would be appropriate for our Avalon church. She really helped us in selecting the best instrument for our needs and also offered us a demonstration in the church before we purchased it.
In our churches, we perform a mix of traditional hymn based music as well as contemporary church music. At this moment, traditional music is probably played more often, but our younger generation of musicians are also incorporating newer music into our repertoire.”
Coinciding with the process for securing a new organ for Maria Regina Church in Avalon, an incredible opportunity arose for the congregation to hear a Rodgers organ, in one of the finest ways imaginable.
“Maestro Hector Olivera, considered one of the finest organists in the world today, performed a free recital on our Rodgers 578 organ at Maria Regina Church at a special fundraising night we held.”
“This was a wonderful opportunity to encourage our congregation, as well as anyone else, to come and participate in the concert and to hear the Rodgers 578 organ. It was also a wonderful opportunity for people to see what the Rodgers organ was capable of doing in this church.
The congregation responded beautifully after the concert and from the first encounter, they were in love with the Rodgers organ and the way people played it.”
After the success of the Rodgers 578’s first public recital, Fr. George feel that the warm response to the organ has only increased. This has come not only from the church’s regular congregation and other visitors, but especially from the musicians using the organ on a regular basis.
“The response from the players has been very positive. Our musicians take the best out of this organ, there’s nothing that they’ve struggled with or found difficult to manage.
With modern technology, we can do lots of different things so we are very pleased that we have this opportunity that we didn’t have with other organs before. Everything has been very positive.
I think the great support of Kerry also showed them what they were able to do with this organ and how they could really use this organ.”