Rochester, NY — In January, when most university students will be preparing to head back to school, Eastman School of Music organ students will be packing their bags — and their music — to fly to Göteborg, Sweden for an opportunity of a lifetime. From January 6 – 13, 2003, 31 of the Eastman School’s organ students and four organ faculty members will take a two-week "field trip" to immerse themselves in the inseparable 700-year relationship between the organ and its repertoire.
The city of Göteborg has the unique distinction of housing the Göteborg Organ Art Center (GOArt), an international center for research in historical organ building and performance practice. Noted Swedish organist and Eastman faculty member Hans Davidsson is GOArt’s founder and artistic and research director. At the GOArt Center, modern scientists, engineers, and tunesmiths have replicated the best historic organs down to the smallest detail, even using the same process for building the pipes and pedals. With the help of computer models, GOArt researchers have created instruments that are superior to many modern replicas, Davidsson says.
The visiting Eastman students will give free public recitals on six different organs, attend lectures, seminars, lessons, master classes, and concerts, in addition to exchanging ideas with students from the School of Music at Göteborg University. Additionally, Göteborg students will be able to attend daily colloquia given by Eastman faculty members on organ music interpretation.
“ Much of the European organ music we play today contains indications referring to original instruments,” says Davidsson. “These indications are possible to realize on the Göteborg organs. It’s as if one had access to a cookbook with wonderful recipes, but without the appropriate ingredients. Our trip will allow us to ‘cook and taste’ original and delicious ‘musical meals,’ so important for the understanding and interpretation of our common musical heritage.” The city’s 10 historic, national organs will expose the students to as many different instrument styles.
“ This sensational opportunity will give our students a broader understanding of the organ’s place in today’s world, and how they are a part of it,” says David Higgs, co-chair of Eastman’s keyboard department and head of its organ program. Also one of America’s leading concert organists, Higgs has an impressive background in pedagogy and sacred music performance. “Our goal is to equip Eastman students to become leaders in the field, and this trip is absolutely necessary to experience firsthand the kinds of organs that were the genesis of so much of the standard repertoire."
The Eastman School of Music has a rich history of distinguished organ instruction and leadership in the field of sacred music. Many of Eastman’s students win national and international organ competitions each year and go on to hold leading positions in major churches, cathedrals, synagogues, and schools around the world.
Note: Interviews are available with members of Eastman’s organ faculty and students.