Tenth Anniversary Celebration of the Italian Baroque Organ

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Festival Overview

A four-day festival of concerts, masterclasses, and paper sessions marking the tenth anniversary of the installation of the Eastman School of Music’s Italian Baroque Organ at the Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester. Distinguished guest performers and scholars from the United States, Canada, and Europe will join faculty and students from the University of Rochester School of Arts and Sciences and the Eastman School of Music in a celebration of this unique cultural artifact and its historical trace.

The festival opens on Thursday, October 22, with a keynote address by Nancy Norwood, Curator of European Art at the Memorial Art Gallery, followed by a concert from internationally renowned organist Roberto Antonello (Italy). Antonello’s program explores Italian organ music through the ages and its influence on the European keyboard tradition.

The second day explores Girolamo Frescobaldi’s Il primo libro di Toccate (Rome, 1615) and its cultural and intellectual context. Il primo libro di Toccate heralded a new style in keyboard composition, innovative and striking in its musical gestures and harmonic language. This beautifully engraved publication was rapidly disseminated across Europe, spreading Frescobaldi’s innovations to a new generation of keyboard composers. Armando Carideo’s morning masterclass offers a rare inside view into the performance practice of this complex repertoire.  The afternoon paper session explores the cultural and intellectual background of Frescobaldi’s innovations in art, science, poetry, and vocal music, together with the symbolic and liturgical role of the organ in Baroque Rome. The evening concert, featuring Edoardo Bellotti with organ and harpsichord works by Frescobaldi and sung Italian madrigals of the period, develops themes from the afternoon paper session.

The third day of this “Performing History” festival explores the music of Domenico Zipoli (1688-1726), one of the most widely renowned Italian musicians—and the most famous Jesuit composer—to go to the colonial New World. His music for the Jesuit missions became widely circulated in 18th-century South America. Roberto Antonello’s masterclass features Zipoli’s colorful organ works played by organ students from the Eastman School of Music. The afternoon paper session explores themes of cross-cultural encounter and the musical and cultural trace of the Jesuits in South America. The evening concert presents Zipoli’s rarely performed Missa a S. Ignacio in a full reconstruction of the mass liturgy, with choral motets and organ music by Zipoli and chant from contemporary sources.

The festival concludes on Sunday, October 25, with three concerts showcasing the Italian Baroque Organ and featuring current and former Eastman students and professors. The Going for Baroque mini-recital series occurs every Sunday afternoon at the Memorial Art Gallery and, in the last decade, has allowed thousands of gallery visitors to experience the unique sounds of this beautiful instrument. Current Eastman organ students will play the first program; Eastman alumna Annie Laver performs the second. The closing festival concert features Eastman’s three organ professors at the time of the installation of the Italian Baroque Organ at the MAG in October 2005. Ten years later, these renowned performers reunite to present a special tenth anniversary concert, a celebratory finale to the “Performing History” festival.

With its original pipework from the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as fully restored casework from the 1770s, Eastman’s Italian Baroque Organ at the Memorial Art Gallery is the only full-size Italian Baroque organ in North America. Its unique and beautiful sonorities offer a “living recording” of sounds made hundreds of years ago. Click here to learn more about the specifications and history of the Italian Baroque Organ.

This “Performing History” festival is presented as part of the University of Rochester Humanities Project’s “Performing History: The Italian Baroque Organ and Its Cultural Intersections,” a year-long series of collaborative events exploring the Italian Baroque Organ, its repertoire, and its place in art, culture and society. This Humanities Project is co-organized by the College Music Department (School of Arts and Sciences); the department of Organ, Sacred Music and Historical Keyboards (Eastman School of Music); and the Memorial Art Gallery. It is presented in collaboration with the departments of Art and Art History, History, Religion and Classics (School of Arts and Sciences), and Musicology (Eastman School of Music).