ROCHESTER, NY — As the Eastman School of Music prepares for its third annual Eastman-Rochester Organ Initiative (EROI) Festival, so does an international contingent of influential organ builders, prominent organ scholars and researchers, and important Lithuanian dignitaries. A major highlight of this year’s festival, October 21-24, is the first ever global cultural heritage project of its kind.
In collaboration with the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, the Gõteborg Organ Art Center (GOArt) in Sweden, and the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY, the Eastman School will present its most recent EROI organ project to the public: the building of a reproduction of an historic 1776 Lithuanian organ to be installed in Rochester’s Christ Church (Episcopal) in 2008, and the simultaneous restoration of the original Adam Gottlob Casparini instrument in Vilnius. The new instrument, to be called the Craighead-Saunders Organ, is to be named in honor of two legendary Eastman faculty organists: Professor Emeritus David Craighead and the late Russell Saunders.
Considered to be one of the most valuable musical artifacts of its time in Europe today, the Casparini organ at the Church of the Dominicans (Holy Ghost Church) in Vilnius, Lithuania, was miraculously well-preserved in a region afflicted by years of war and conflict. The two-year technical documentation on the instrument will be included in the EROI presentation, and will act as a blueprint for its correct recreation. “This project will provide both Eastman and the Rochester community with an organ suitable for the music of J.S. Bach, and at the same time, help give life to the largest, most well-preserved late Baroque organ in Northern Europe,” according to Eastman Organ Professor Hans Davidsson.
In recognition of this rich cultural exchange between Vilnius and Rochester, the EROI festival’s opening event (Thursday, Oct. 21) welcomes local dignitaries and guests Vygaudus Usaçkas, the Lithuanian Ambassador to the United States; Professor Kestutis Masiulis, deputy mayor of Vilnius; Rimas Chesonis, the Lithuanian honorary consul of Upstate New York, and members of the local Lithuanian-American Association. Throughout the festival, demonstrations of Lithuanian cultural activities will take place in addition to a performance by Lithuanian choirs from the United States and Canada.
Additional festival highlights include Eastman organ faculty, guests, and students in numerous concerts — including the American premiere of Hans-Ola Ericson’s Organ Mass for organ and tape — scholarly lectures, professional workshops, and presentations by nearly a dozen instrument builders. The festival will honor one of the most influential organ builders in North American organ culture during the second half of the 20th century, the late builder Dirk A. Flentrop.
For those with a particular interest in the pedal clavichord, there will be a Westfield Center-sponsored symposium on this very special instrument. The pedal clavichord has been integrated fully in the Eastman organ curriculum — the first such integration in modern music education. Dr. Joel Speerstra (GOArt) will present his ground-breaking research on this topic.
“The EROI festival is fast becoming one of the most important and fruitful meetings for some of the organ world’s most influential movers and shakers,” says David Higgs, organ professor and chair of the organ department. “It provides a fertile environment conducive to creativity and the sharing of important new ideas in the evolution of the pipe organ.”
Many of the festival’s concerts and events are free and open to the public. For more information, please visit www.rochester.edu/Eastman/organ.