SANTA MARÍA DE LA ASUNCIÓN TLACOLULA
THE HISTORIC ORGAN OF SANTA MARÍA DE LA ASUNCÓN TLACOLULA
Documents in the Tlacolula church archives indicate that the organ was built in 1791 by organbuilder Manuel Neri y Carmona for $700 pesos, with an additional $200 pesos for the gilding. However, one of the tallest interior trumpet pipes bears the date "1666" and Dominican crosses appear on several of the other pipes. These crosses are common on pipes or pallets of the wind chest during the period of strong Dominican influence until around the mid-18th century, but after this time, the crosses disappeared. Therefore we can assume that the pipes incised with crosses were built before the case of 1791.
The pipe work of the organ is almost entirely homogeneous and seems to have been recycled from a previous instrument, since at the end of the 18th century $700 pesos would not have financed the construction of a complete organ. However, it could have covered the cost of the case, bellows, and interior components. Based on this, the Tlacolula organ may have the oldest complete pipe work of any organ in Oaxaca, with a sound hearkening back to the 17th century.
The 1791 case of the organ is stylistically an anachronism, since it was painted and gilded in baroque style at a time when such decoration was no longer in vogue. In contrast, all other Oaxacan organ cases of the period have a natural finish or are painted one color in accordance with the prevailing calmer and less turbulent neo-classic aesthetic. The faces on the façade pipes are similarly out of historical context, since this decorative characteristic had largely disappeared in Oaxaca by the mid-18th century. Their finely rendered, individualized expressions contrast dramatically with the ferocious mascarones typical of late-17th and early-18th century Mexican and European organs, yet at the same time, they do preserve the baroque tradition.
To see more about the restoration of this organ, click here.