Almost unbelievable, says Jesús Balandin, Johannus dealer in Spain, but when the Ecclesia D-450 was installed in the cathedral in Jerez de la Frontera (Cádiz) last autumn, people dropped by specifically to congratulate the bishop on his new organ.
Although his degree is in psychology, Jesús Balandin thoroughly enjoys his career as an enthusiastic and competent Johannus dealer. From his showroom in Boadilla Del Monte, less than half an hour’s drive west of Madrid, he inspires Spanish audiences to appreciate the authentic Johannus sound. He’s been doing so since 1995, he explains. Although he started on staff, Jesús has owned the Andante Organos firm himself since 1999. As the owner and managing director, he handles a wide range of tasks for the dealership, ranging from organizing a TV commercial for Spanish television to installing organs in churches, cathedrals and living rooms.
Balandin has always felt entirely at home at Johannus, he explains passionately. “Of course the point as a dealer is to sell organs, but Johannus has always had a very strong focus on maintaining good, reciprocal relationships. I appreciate that intensely. It also creates a certain sense of loyalty that is reflected to customers as well.”
Another factor in the Spanish dealer’s appreciation of Johannus is “the phenomenal quality of the organs”, as he puts it. “They are always dedicated to getting the best references in their market. And what they do works wonderfully. I have seen that it is relatively easy to convince potential customers that Johannus delivers excellent quality, since I’m convinced that I’m making the best offer on this market. I’m primarily referring to the exceptionally good sound quality. Customers who end up deciding to buy a different organ may be swayed by price, but they’ve never chosen a different option based on sound quality. It appeals to every single Spanish organist.”
Balandin recognizes Johannus as a characteristic Northern European company, he says. “It is a professional, responsible organization. That does not mean that everything always goes perfectly. No, I primarily see it as the guarantee that the highest attainable standard is always the goal. Only the best solutions matter. I find that incredibly appealing.”
Based on that enthusiasm for Johannus and its organs, Balandin feels a similarly euphoric passion for the Ecclesia D-450, the cathedral organ he had the privilege of installing last autumn in the San Salvador Cathedral in Jerez de la Frontera, near the southernmost tip of Spain. “For churches, the Ecclesia is the best product on the market, second only to the Monarke,” he states with absolute conviction. “The D-450 is the absolute cream of the crop in this series. The instrument is positively princely with its three manuals, gorgeous façades and brass toe stud. It also has lots of stops and perfect amplification that lets it fill large spaces, like the interior of this cathedral.”
The Ecclesia aims to attain the ultimate affinity with the atmosphere in the cathedral of Jerez de la Frontera, quite a sizable city with a population of more than 200,000. The church houses a wealth of art in various styles and can accommodate a large crowd of nearly 1000 people. “I installed the organ in September 2015,” Balandin explains. “It is used in all the services held by the local parish, but often sees good use at all sorts of events that are organized in the building.”
Installing the organ was “quite a breathtaking process,” the dealer recalls. “I visited the cathedral on countless occasions to make sure absolutely everything was prepared. I did sound tests and had all sorts of meetings with experts. We discussed the construction of the organ, the power supply, the most aesthetically pleasing way to incorporate the organ into the architecture, and so on. I supervised the actual installation and coordinated all the specialized professionals. One installed the facades, another ran cables, while a third made sure there were power connections fifteen meters up the wall. Then I explained all the organ’s functions to the organists.”
Responses to the organ, once it was installed and had officially been commissioned in a festive concert on October 2015, surpassed all expectations, Balandin says. He can still hardly believe it. “People in the city came to personally congratulate the bishop on his new organ. That’s how special it was to them. And lots of people living in Jerez de la Frontera are positive about the organ. Some have even expressed their enthusiasm by bringing flowers up to the organ. Even listeners who have no particular fondness for organ music can tell that the Ecclesia is an exceptional and powerful instrument.”