The entrance to the time tunnel is located a few meters above the wooden benches of the Gothic church of Santa María de la Consolación, in the municipality of Caceres. Garrovillas de Alconétar. There, in a corner of the choir you discover the door that gives access to the sounds of the sixteenth century and that It has the shape of a Gothic organ. Of him said the famous Dutch restorer Gerard de Graaf in 1990: "It could be this the only one where you could hear the intonation [del Renacimiento], maybe in the whole world. "
The piece, the oldest in Spain and one of the ones in Europe, was built more than 450 years ago. It lacks any patrimonial protection -not the temple where it is located has reached the category of Cultural Interest Property eight years after opening the file-, but struggles to enter the European Network of Historical Organs. "That's the situation," José Julián Barriga explains laconically, from the Domingo Marcos Durán Cultural Association, an organization that promotes the conservation of the instrument and takes its name from the Garrovillano author who, in 1492, published the first treatise on music in Spanish, Lux Bella.
In Europe, due to its age, only four keyboards struggle with the cacereño: three in Germany (in the churches of St. Andreas, Rysum and St. Valentine of Kiedrich) and one in Switzerland, that of the basilica of Valére, in Sion. The five were built between 1430 and 1520.
Of Garrovillas we know the salary received by his first known concert player (6,000 maravedies), Francisco Díaz, and the ten ducats that maestro Horacio Fabri received in 1595 for tuning it up. In the seventeenth century, it was repaired twice, until about ten years ago, the church of Santa Maria suffered very serious damage to walls and vaults, including the collapse of the choir's arch, which endangered its survival.
For decades it was abandoned, but it was rescued by Miguel del Barco Gallego, director for 25 years of the Conservatory of Madrid, and Carmelo Solís Rodríguez, master of the chapel of the cathedral of Badajoz. Eric Brottier, conservator of historical organs of Paris, left written: "The presence of the furniture and the tubes of the facade is an argument enough to promote it with all the propaganda it deserves, since these elements are, by themselves, very rare not only in Spain but in Europe. "
Del Barco explains that a unique instrument that keeps "80% of the original sound". "It is located in the golden age of the organs of the Peninsula and is distinguished by its Venetian tuning fork; that is, shades more watery and bright than those made in later centuries. " Del Barco recalls that the usual organs sound at 442 hertz, whereas he does so at 465.
At present it does not have any administrative protection, and its conservation is occupied by two or three people altruistically. Its state of preservation is perfect-the association that keeps it organized in the morning-, although it is out of tune with each change of season.
The master organizer Manuel Luengo is in charge of its tuning. "You have to maintain it, clean it up and replace the elements that deteriorate." Remember that there is no specific legislation for these works of art. "In many more cases than we think, they are being intervened by unscrupulous people who convince pastors that they can be fixed, "he says.
This newspaper has not obtained the version of the Junta de Extremadura, but Barriga notes that the file has already been initiated to protect it, although the process may be long. The choir director Alonso Gómez Gallego explained his feelings after hearing it vibrate in 2012. "Grant, to those who listen to it, the privilege of traveling and transporting it directly to the sounds of our yesterday." They are the tubes of time.