The Cathedral of Mallorca recovers a soundboard created by Gaudí
The Cathedral of Mallorca will host on Friday the inauguration of a replica of the soundboard (amplifier) designed by Antoni Gaudí for the temple, a piece which crowned the Gospel pulpit since 1904 but was removed in 1971 and which now temporarily returns until the 1st of October.
The Councillor for Housing and Public Works, Jaume Carbonero, explained at the press conference for the presentation of the replica that this initiative “seeks to recover an important element of Gaudí’s work”, reproducing it “in the most faithful manner”.
Carbonero classified the work as “a small miracle” made possible by the “good offices of the Bishopric and the Cathedral Chapter and the outstanding professional skill of the architect Elías Torres".
The President of the Chapter and Dean of the Cathedral, Joan Darder, explained that the replica reproduces the model made by Gaudí of this acoustic device, “which could be seen in the Cathedral between 1904 and 1971”.
He reminisced that the first sermon it amplified was the one read by Costa i Llobera during the Purísima festivities of 1904, which inaugurated the great reformation carried out by Gaudí and Jujol in transferring the choir from the centre of the Cathedral to the chancel.
In 1968 the Cathedral chapter received a letter from the Provincial Commission for Historical-Artistic Monuments of Baleares advising the suppression of the soundboard “due to it not fulfilling the acoustic purpose for which it was created”, given that a PA system had been installed, and it was therefore dismantled.
Darder explained that the model was provisional and the modernist architect aimed to decorate it. He pointed out that Gaudí’s intention was for the piece to be added to a sculpture group consisting of eight angels, and above them a column with images of the twelve apostles and symbols of the four evangelists, crowned by the globe and cross of the redeemer.
The bishop of Mallorca, Jesús Murgui, highlighted the value of the piece in evoking “a particularly glorious, rich and beautiful moment in the history of the Cathedral”such as the collaboration between Gaudí and Bishop Pere Joan Campins.
The architect from Ibiza, Elías Torres, classified the 8 metre high soundboard as “an unfinished object, like other things in the high altar of the Cathedral”.
To complete it, Torres based his work on the “fourteen or fifteen existing photos” of Gaudí’s model, from which the measurements and geometric shapes had been extracted, and the piece has been made in its image, in the shape of an “esclatasang" (milk top mushroom).
It was built with a structure of jute, sackcloth covered in plaster and white glue and resin.
The architect added that he only slightly modified the back part “so that the central column from the XIV century would not impinge” on the one that supported the original model. The replica does not touch this column.
Regarding the future of the replica, the cost of which was 30.000 euros, Torres stated that he considers it important for people to express their opinions on the item and mentioned the possibility of donating it to the Sagrada Familia once it has been exhibited.
Councillor Carbonero confirmed that “its size is adequate for the space in which it is located and siting it elsewhere would not be easy”. “We will study the possibility of fitting it into another of Gaudí’s works”, he added.
For his part, the dean stated that “both civic and ecclesiastical authorities should listen to many voices” in this regard.