Local residents will have the opportunity this weekend to get close-up views of the work being done on Rochester’s newest instrument, a 15-ton, 2,000-pipe organ being installed in Christ Church, 141 East Avenue.
From 1 to 3 p.m. this Saturday, March 8, visitors can attend an open house and see the appearance of the organ case which is being painted and the gilding which is being applied to the organ carvings. They will also be able to hear the preliminary results of the “voicing” and tuning of the metal pipes, a complex process in which the sound of each pipe is adjusted and balanced.
Though new, the organ is built after a rare and historic organ built in 1776 in Lithuania. It is the first organ in the United States to be built completely in the late-18th-century central and northern European style. In 2002, five of the foremost organ builders in the United States joined an international team of organ builders and researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden to create the new instrument. Göteborg Art Center (GOArt) and the joint venture of organ builders and scientists have researched and worked on the new organ for more than six years, reconstructing the 18th-century craft and organ building philosophy.
The massive undertaking began in Rochester in March 2007 with the construction of the balcony to hold the organ and continued in the summer with the installation of the case and mechanical parts. The installation and voicing of the pipes began last fall, and the painting of the case and carvings began in January.
The organ installation project in Christ Church is part of the Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative (EROI) at the Eastman School of Music, a long-range project to make Rochester a global center for organ research and performance by assembling a collection of new and historic organs. When completed in 2008, the organ will be used for teaching, practice, and public concerts by Eastman School students and faculty and other guest musicians and also for services at Christ Church. The instrument will be named the Craighead-Saunders Organ in honor of two legendary Eastman faculty organists: Professor Emeritus David Craighead and the late Russell Saunders.
Master organ builder Munetaka Yokota of the Göteborg Organ Art Center in Sweden is voicing the organ pipes, and organ builder Monika May of Germany is painting the organ case. May was involved in the restoration and installation of the Italian Baroque organ in the Memorial Art Gallery, which was also an EROI project.
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