The choir organ in the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris is 30-stop instrument with two keyboards and a pedalboard.
Its history began in the early 19th century, just after the Revolution, when the choir organ “trend” was spreading to churches to offset the lack of religious musicians. This instrument is at the heart of the cathedral’s liturgy and has always been carefully maintained, just as the organists who played there were carefully selected.
Making a major contribution to music at Notre-Dame de Paris, the choir organ plays several roles made possible by the richness and diversity of its acoustic palette. For daily services during the week, the organists play alone as soloist or accompanist, playing with the cantor or the assembly. On weekend or during exceptional ceremonies, the organist alternates with the great organ for dialogue between assembly chants and choir chants. One could also say that it is the instrument of the Ile de la Cité’s Christians, that it expresses their joy and their pain during various celebrations. Finally, it is the faithful, privileged partner of the cathedral’s choir school, both for concerts and recordings, when its presence is necessary, and for services, during which the choir and the organ join voices to sing Glory to God.
From April 1989 to December 1992, during the restoration of the great organ, it was Notre-Dame’s only instrument; during that time, many guest organists in Paris admitted to the tenured organists that they would have loved to have such an instrument… in the organ loft!