Italian Baroque Organ Music Marks 'Christmas at the Memorial Art Gallery'

updated Dec. 17, 2009

December 4, 2009

More Information:
For Media Only: Helene Snihur (585-274-1057,
For The Public: 585-274-1110

Eastman School of Music professors David Higgs and Jan Opalach will be headlining a Christmas-themed program that showcases the Italian Baroque organ at the Memorial Art Gallery. The concert of holiday fare will be presented at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20.

Higgs and Opalach will be joined by Eastman School voice major Kristina Moore, mezzo-soprano, along with a vocal ensemble under the direction of Stephen Kennedy, instructor of sacred music and music theory at the Eastman School and director of music at Christ Church.

The hour-long program includes the “Pastorella” for organ and music from the Advent Cantata No. 36 and “Christmas Oratorio” by J.S. Bach; “Noël” by Louis-Claude Daquin; “In Dulci Jubilo” by Johann Michael Bach; and also works by C.P.E. Bach, Giovanni Bassani, and others.

Higgs is one of America’s leading concert organists and chair of the Eastman School’s organ department. He performs extensively throughout the United States and abroad and adjudicates at festivals and competitions throughout the world. Higgs also taught at the Manhattan School of Music and has served in music director and organist positions at Park Avenue Christian Church and Riverside Church in New York City, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, and Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco. He has played many Christmas concerts at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall, and in recent years, he has continued this tradition at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.

Opalach has been a principal artist of the New York City Opera since 1980. He has also appeared with the Metropolitan Opera, Opera Theater of St. Louis, Santa Fe Opera, Seattle Opera, Canadian Opera Company, Netherlands Opera, and Sweden’s Drottningholm Royal Court Theater, and has been a featured soloist singing with the orchestras of Baltimore, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Montreal, and others. He has won the Walter M. Naumburg Vocal Competition, Metropolitan Opera National Auditions, and International Vocalisten Concours of s’Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, as well as a National Endowment for the Arts Soloist Recital Grant.

Tickets to the “Christmas at the Memorial Art Gallery” concert are $10 for the general public and $7 for students. They are available at the door one hour before the concert and are payable by cash or check.

The Italian Baroque Organ was built around 1770 in central Italy. Restored and installed in 2005 at the Memorial Art Gallery, the instrument is the only one of its kind in North America. More information on concerts is available online at 

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Calendar listing:
Sunday, December 20
5:30 p.m.
“Christmas at the Memorial Art Gallery.” Featuring David Higgs, organ, and Jan Opalach, bass-baritone, in an hour-long program of music by Bach, Daquin, Bassani, and others.
Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave.
Tickets: $10 (students $7), available by cash or check at the door one hour before the performance.