‘Cosmic Organ’ Inspires Concert at the Memorial Art Gallery

October 9, 2013

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

Edoardo Bellotti will present a concert of 17th-century organ music inspired by the concept of a “cosmic organ” at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, October 20, at the Memorial Art Gallery. The program features works by Frescobaldi, Pasquini, Muffat, Kerll, and Froberger.

The “cosmic organ” appears in Musurgia Universalis, an encyclopedic presentation of musical theory and knowledge by Jesuit priest and scholar Athanasius Kircher. Published in 1650, it is considered one of the most influential of all music treatises.

In the tenth volume, Kircher presents music as the source of all creation, a kind of universal harmony, and portrays the universe as a grand organ sounded by the Creator. Kircher’s illustration of this cosmic organ, titled “Harmonia nascentis mundi” (“the Harmony of the Birth of the World”), has six circular panels depicting the six days of Creation.  The organ’s six registers correspond to each of these days, and also to the six notes of the hexachord.  The image reflects the fascinating intersection of scientific, theological, and cosmological thought in Kircher’s worldview.

Kircher was a Baroque polymath: a theologian with an extensive knowledge of mathematics, physics, and music theory, and one of the first scholars to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Bellotti, who joined the faculty of the Eastman School of Music in September 2013 as Associate Professor of Organ, Harpsichord, and Improvisation, will perform on the Gallery’s Italian Baroque Organ. The instrument, built around 1770 in central Italy, was restored and installed in 2005 at the Memorial Art Gallery. The organ is the only one of its kind in North America.

Bellotti served on the restoration committee for the organ and gave the instrument’s inaugural concert in 2005.  He is considered a leading expert in the performance of renaissance and baroque keyboard music and has made several critically acclaimed recordings on historical instruments. His recording Promenade, performed on the Italian Baroque Organ and featuring organ repertoire and original improvisations related to paintings in the gallery’s collection, was released by Loft Recordings in 2007.

Bellotti’s recital is part of the monthly “Third Sunday Concert with the Italian Baroque Organ” series. Tickets are $10 ($5 students with ID), available at the door beginning at 4:30 p.m., or in advance from the Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave.

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