Imagine playing an instrument that had developed over the last millennium, with repertoire from a multitude of countries. Now envision several period instruments from all over the world, allowing this diverse repertoire to be learned on the instruments for which it was written. While at first appearing quite ambitious, this dream is one that was set forth by the Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative.

Formally launched on Sept. 12, 2002 by Eastman Dean James Undercofler and Mayor William Johnson at the first annual Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative Festival, the EROI unveiled its plans to acquire several instruments patterned after historical models over the next 10 years. The first phase of the project, headed by organ professors Hans Davidsson and David Higgs, is underway with three main goals.

Kilbourn Hall houses an organ that was built in 1921. Though the organ was rebuilt in 1951 under the direction of Harold Gleason, Eastman’s first professor of organ, it will soon undergo a second renovation, to be completed in several phases. This organ will represent the project’s first goal of having an American concert organ.

Secondly, a new organ in the 18th century, late Baroque style will be built for Christ Church. This organ will be modeled after one of the best-preserved organs in Northern Europe, built in 1776. The organ will be suited to the music of J.S. Bach and his contemporaries. Mastery of this literature is paramount to any organist, and this instrument will ensure that such mastery is properly achieved. This organ should be completed in 2007.

The last goal of the first phase is to acquire an antique Italian organ. This organ, which was built in the 1770s in Naples, will be restored and brought to Rochester. Though the instrument itself was built in 1770, some of the organ’s pipes are even older, possibly dating back to 1650. After being documented and restored, the organ will be installed in the Fountain Court at the Memorial Art Gallery in 2004. It will be the first full-sized Italian organ in North America.

From an organist’s viewpoint, the advantages of having such a wide array of instruments are clear. However, the advantages for the non-organist are also numerous. Historically speaking, the organ has been called a mirror of its time.

Because of the elaborate artwork on many of these organs, one cannot only ascertain the artistic ideas of the period but also the historical state of secular and sacred culture. Thus the organ project will not only benefit the musicologists in the area, but the art historians as well.

As part of the EROI festival,

visiting organ builders from the Gteborg Organ Art Center in Sweden came to Rochester to demonstrate the 17th-century technique of casting pipe metal on beds of sand.

This type of metallurgy seems to produce the most resonant organ pipes, and many organists prefer the sound of these pipes to more modern ones. Thus, from a scientific standpoint, metallurgists might be interested in discovering the qualities modern science has not yet recaptured.

While awaiting the completion of the project, the organ department will travel annually to the only place in the world that has a comparable instrument collection ? the Gteborg University in Sweden. Because students have to pay for all their own travel expenses, the department has begun a new community recital series to help raise the necessary funds. This series will expose the public and the university student body, to the wealth of organ literature that exists and to the diversity of keyboard talent located within in the walls of Eastman. The next recital will be held Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in Bethany Presbyterian Church.

The completion of the project will result in a collection of instruments, including a new organ for Eastman Theatre, a romantic organ for Christ Church and an enhanced collection of practice instruments, which will be unparalleled on the North American continent.



College Diversity Roundtable discusses conduct policy changes, Bias-Related Incident Report, world events messaging

The College Diversity Roundtable discussed code of conduct changes, the upcoming Bias-Related Incident Report, and administrative messaging about world events at their first meeting of the year.

Student musician kr!thi draws on roots for experimental debut single

A dreamy lo-fi R&B bop, “eve” utilizes elements of classical Indian music within the vocals as an homage to the artist’s roots.

Freshman SA members elected, confirmed

Eight newly-elected first-years were confirmed to the Students' Association Senate and Class Council on Monday.