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Joel Antonio Vásquez González — Tlacolula, Mexico

Classically trained pianist and organist. He holds an administrative position at the “Instituto de Órganos Históricos de Oaxaca.” The non-profit organization in charge of restoring and promoting the outstanding collection of seventy-two baroque pipe organs spread thru out the state of Oaxaca. But Joel is not tied to desk duties, he is the person in charge of teaching the new generations how to play these church organs. “They are being restored so that the public can actually hear them and not simply to be on display like museum pieces. They are used for cultural and ecclesiastical events every week.”

Our session with Joel took place inside the Santa María de la Asunción church in the community of Tlacolula. To reach the organ we had to go up a narrow and dark set of spiral stairs to the second floor of the church. Joel was already there tuning the pipes of the organ. He patiently explained all the parts and mechanisms that make this enormous instrument work the way it does, he let us experience how the manual air pumps work and taught us how to tweak a few controls to achieve different tonal characters from the organ and once our session was over he played a classical music piece while we packed our equipment. And he did it all with a pleasant voice and a huge smile.