First Sounding of Pipes of New Organ under Construction in Christ Church Launches Eastman’s Annual Organ Festival

September 24, 2007

More Information:
For Media Only: Helene Snihur (585-274-1057, hsnihur@esm.rochester.edu)

The first sounds of a new pipe organ being built in Rochester will launch an upcoming festival devoted to the preservation of old and historic organs.

At 11 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11, participants in this year’s EROI (Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative) Festival will gather in the sanctuary of Christ Church, 141 East Ave., to celebrate a milestone in the construction of the 15-ton, 2,000 pipe organ. The project began in March with the building of the balcony and continued in the summer with the installation of the case and mechanical parts of the organ.

Now, the first sounds made by the organ will mark the beginning of a year-long process to voice and tune the pipes. When completed in 2008, Rochester’s newest major instrument will be used for teaching, practice, and public concerts by Eastman School of Music students and faculty and other guest musicians and also for services at Christ Church.

The new organ replicates a rare and historic instrument built in 1776 in Lithuania. It is the first organ in the United States to be built completely in the late-eighteenth century central and northern European style.

“The installation of such a sizeable instrument is a major undertaking,” said David Higgs, chair of the Department of Organ and Historical Keyboards at the Eastman School of Music. “Moreover, there is no documentation on how this style of organ was originally constructed more than 200 years ago. This project here in Rochester is allowing us to discover and recreate historic organ-building processes that can help to restore pipe organs around the world and reach a new level of sound quality in contemporary organ building.”

With its complexity of moving parts, its majestic and powerful tones, and its immense size, the pipe organ is called “The King of Instruments.” The organ is also a historical and technological artifact that reveals insights into the culture that builds it and illustrates the physics behind the production of sound. But like many artifacts, pipe organs are being lost to such threats as physical deterioration or church closures.

This year, the annual EROI Festival will focus on preservation efforts and issues under the theme “New Dimensions in Organ Documentation and Conservation.” The event is scheduled for Oct. 11 through 14 at various Rochester locations and includes presentations, panels, discussions, and concerts. Many are open to the public and noted below. A complete schedule of festival events is available online at www.esm.rochester.edu/eroi/festival-2007.php .

The EROI Festival, launched in 2002, is a celebration of the long-range EROI project designed to nurture and extend the Eastman School’s distinguished tradition of the study and teaching of organ by making Rochester a global center for organ research and performance. The festival draws organ musicians, scholars, and builders from around the world.

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Calendar of Concerts and Public Events:

Wednesday, Oct. 10
4 p.m.
Pre-festival roundtable on “Artifacts in the 21st Century: Reviving the Past—Creating the Future”
Hubbell Auditorium in Hutchison Hall, University of Rochester River Campus
Free

Thursday, Oct. 11
8:30 p.m.
Italian Baroque Organ Showcase Concert Series, organ and harpsichord recital with David Higgs, Hans Davidsson, and William Porter
Fountain Court, Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave.
$12 regular/$8 students

Friday, Oct. 12
Noon
Lunch recital by Eastman School of Music students, followed by a visit to the organ loft
Christ Church Episcopal, 141 East Ave.
Free

Friday, Oct. 12
8:30 p.m.
Organ recital with Todd Wilson, guest artist and David Higgs
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 25 Westminster Rd.
$12 regular/$8 students

Saturday, Oct. 13
8:30 p.m.
Organ recital with Hans Davidsson and William Porter
Sacred Heart Cathedral, 296 Flower City Park
$12 regular/$8 students

Sunday, Oct. 14
1 p.m.
Organ, pedal clavichord, and pedal piano concert with Eastman School of Music students
Schmitt Organ Recital Hall, Eastman School of Music, 26 Gibbs St.
Free

Sunday, Oct. 14
2 to 4 p.m.
Open House, visit to the organ loft, and demonstration
Christ Church Episcopal, 141 East Ave.
Free

Sunday, Oct. 14
5:30 p.m.
Italian Baroque Organ Showcase Concert Series of vocal and instrumental music by Buxtehude, performed by Christ Church Schola Cantorum, Stephen Kennedy, director
Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave.
$12 regular/$8 students

Sunday, Oct. 14
9 p.m.
Concluding Compline service, Christ Church Schola Cantorum, Stephen Kennedy, director
Christ Church Episcopal, 141 East Ave.
Free

Monday, Oct. 15
4 p.m.
Lecture and roundtable on “Environmental Challenges to Cultural Preservation”
Lander Auditorium in Hutchison Hall, University of Rochester River Campus
Free