Eastman School of Music Faculty, Student Performers Bid Farewell to an Iconic Organ in Special Holiday Concert

November 27, 2013

Rochester audiences will have one last chance to hear the magnificent Brombaugh organ, Opus 9 in concert at St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church before the organ is packed up and shipped to its new home in California.  Eastman School of Music organ faculty members will join with the St. Michael’s Chamber Choir in a special holiday concert that will feature the important instrument on Saturday, Dec. 7, at 4 p.m..

A pioneer among American organ builders, John Brombaugh used his extensive experience as an apprentice in Germany to initiate a new direction in American organ building in the 1970s, just as a broad interest in historical performance practice took hold in this country.  Brombaugh sought to build modern instruments using the traditional design and voicing principles from the 17th and 18th centuries.  His Opus 9 was originally built for Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Toledo, Ohio, in 1972.  When the church moved to new location in 2006, Sonoma State University purchased it with the plan to house it in a new performing arts facility.  Since then it has resided in two Rochester churches, Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Michael’s Church.  The fine acoustics of St. Michael’s Church are an especially satisfying match for this organ’s beautiful vocal quality, a trademark of Brombaugh’s building style.

The concert on December 7 will be a send-off for this important instrument.  David Higgs, Edoardo Bellotti, and Annie Laver, faculty members of Eastman’s Department of Organ, Sacred Music, and Historical Keyboards, will perform seasonal organ works by Bach, Buxtehude, Corelli, and Laver.  The St. Michael’s Chamber Choir, a resident professional vocal ensemble of Eastman students and alumni, will perform holiday motets and carols with organ.

“The Brombaugh Opus 9 is a watershed instrument in the history of organ building in this county.  We have been so fortunate to have had the opportunity to give it a temporary home first at Sacred Heart Cathedral and then St. Michael’s.  This instrument has enriched the lives of parishioners, community members, and students alike,” said Higgs, chair of Eastman’s Department of Organ, Sacred Music, and Historical Keyboards.

Concert-goers will also have the opportunity to learn about a potential new organ project at St. Michael’s at the event.  For more information, contact the Eastman School of Music at (585) 274-1564.


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Calendar listing:

Saturday, December 7

Holiday concert featuring the Brombaugh Organ at St. Michael’s. David Higgs, Edoardo Bellotti, and Annie Laver, organists. St. Michael’s Chamber Choir, Annie Laver, director

4 p.m.

St. Michael’s Church, 60 North Clinton Ave (Corner of North Clinton and Clifford avenues)

Free, reception to follow