Rochester, NY (PRWEB) October 27, 2008
The nation’s first precise scientific working replica of Europe’s best-preserved late Baroque organ was inaugurated October 16 at a public concert followed by a four-day Festival in Rochester, New York.
The organ’s completion marks the culmination of almost a decade of research, planning and hand craftsmanship, and a global collaboration involving world-renowned organ experts from the U.S. Sweden, Japan, Lithuania and Germany.
This musical monument, called the Craighead-Saunders organ, marries 21st century fine scholarship and 18th century fine craftsmanship. Made painstakingly by hand in a late-eighteenth century northern European style, the spectacular two-manual, 33-stop organ is mid-sized and weighs 35 tons including a new balcony, and has 2,000 pipes.
The building project was initiated and guided by the Eastman School of Music’s Organ Department (http://www.esm.rochester.edu), where many of the world’s leading organists and organ scholars have studied. Finishing touches to the voicing, painting and gilding of carvings, and placing a statue of King David, which will sit above the console, are underway and will be completed by the 16th.
The Craighead-Saunders organ is a replica of Europe’s best-preserved late Baroque organ, the historic Casparini organ, which was built in 1776 and is located in Holy Ghost Church in Lithuania’s capital city of Vilnius. The Casparini organ is undergoing conservation overseen by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, and is the only remaining example of a large organ created by celebrated organ builder Adam Gottlob Casparini (1715-1788).
From its hand-forged nails and hinges, to paints recreated according to original formulas, the parts of the Craighead-Saunders organ took three full years to build in an organ research workshop at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Its materials are all natural. The organ’s case and bellows are made of pine, the wind chest of poplar, the action parts of oak, and the keys of ebony and cow bone.
Its parts were then shipped across the ocean to the U.S. in a month-long, 4,000-mile voyage. Upon arrival, an international team of top organ builders and researchers from Sweden assembled the organ and during the course of a year, voiced the instrument. A team of American organ builders- Steve Dieck, George Taylor, Paul Fritts, Martin Pasi and Bruce Fowkes – spearheaded the project.
“This has been a revolutionary project,” said Hans Davidsson, who directed and oversaw construction and installation of the organ and who personally oversaw the dismantling and study of the original organ. “We have recaptured lost knowledge, revived the past, and used old methods of craftsmanship since lost as a consequence of industrialization.”
Davidsson, an internationally recognized organist and professor of organ at Eastman, is director of the Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative and was a driving force behind establishing the organ research center Göteborg Organ Art Center (GOArt) in Göteborg, Sweden. GOArt worked with the Culture Ministry of the Republic of Lithuania in the technical documentation for the replication, which will also aid the restoration process of the original Casparini organ. A comprehensive illustrated multimedia documentation of the replication will be published in early 2010.
Rochester an emerging global center for organ research, practice and performance
The Craighead-Saunders organ is named in honor of two legendary Eastman faculty organists: Professor Emeritus David Craighead and the late Russell Saunders. The cost of construction, .8 million, was made possible in part through donations from Saunders’s mother, Hazel Saunders, and the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester. Christ Church (Episcopal) is the organ’s permanent home in Rochester and is just steps from the Eastman School.
The Rt. Rev. Prince G. Singh, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, said, “We were honored to help support this historic project financially and to also provide a fitting home for the new organ. Russell Saunders, for whom the organ is named, was a longtime parishioner of Christ Church so we are pleased to help create this legacy to him. With this painstaking reproduction, we hope to enhance our spirit of worship as well as inspire congregations and organists of all denominations to revisit the role of the pipe organ in their own worship services.”
The organ is the latest project of the Eastman School of Music’s Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative (EROI), a long-range plan to assemble a collection of new and historic organs in Rochester. Through the work of EROI, Rochester is becoming a global center for organ research, practice and performance, providing Eastman organ students and faculty with the unique advantage of experiencing diverse instruments, completely changing the way they approach playing the music. The project also affords the community the opportunity to experience the sounds of extraordinary organs in concerts and worship services.
In 2003-2005, an Italian Baroque organ, once on the verge of being sold as furniture, was rescued and fully restored by the German organ builder Gerald Woehl for the Eastman School and now resides in Rochester. It is the only full-size antique Italian organ in North America.
Recapturing the grand enveloping sound character produced by organs in Bach’s time
The replicated organ is important to musicians and historians because it was the kind of organ Bach played and for which he wrote his music, thereby adding to today’s understanding of music written in that era.
“One of the goals of the reconstruction was to not only recreate the qualities of the Casparini organ as a historical artifact, but also to capture the grander, more enveloping sound character produced by organs in Bach’s time and cultural environment,” said Davidsson.
“Contemporary organs do not sound the same as historical organs,” added
Davidsson. “This project is providing organists and organ students with an organ more suitable for the music of Johann Sebastian Bach than any organ found anywhere else in North America.”
Organ’s uncommon recreation and documentation will impact future organ building
With its complexity of moving parts, majestic and powerful tones, and immense size, the pipe organ is called “The King of Instruments.” The organ is also a historical and technological artifact that reveals insights into the culture that builds it and illustrates the physics behind the production of sound. But like many artifacts, pipe organs are being lost to such threats as physical deterioration or church closures.
“It is uncommon to recreate an organ like this,” explained Munetaka Yokota, who supervised the project in Sweden and voiced the organ’s pipe after installation in Rochester. “Reconstruction is like having a conversation with the original builder.”
Yokota is an organist and independent organ builder who also works at GOArt’s organ research workshop.
He added, “So many organs were destroyed in wars, or changed when repaired, it is hard to trace original elements. Some organs have been copied only from paintings; one in Sweden was copied from just a fragment of an organ in a museum.”
“What we have learned has allowed us to discover and recreate historic organ-building processes that will help in the restoration of pipe organs around the world and enable us to reach a new level of sound quality in contemporary organ building,” said David Higgs, chair of the Department of Organ and Historical Keyboards at the Eastman School of Music.
The model organ was discovered in Lithuania when researchers in Sweden were looking at roots and influence of Swedish organ building. They found the organ neglected and not in good playing condition but miraculously well preserved in a region afflicted by wars and conflicts. Not having been restored after World War II became an advantage for study and reconstruction since lack of funds after the war would have prevented the best workmanship.
Organ’s Inaugural Concert October 16 Coincides with Two Major International Organ Events — Lithuanian Ambassador to Attend
The first public concert on the Craighead-Saunders Organ will be October 16 at 7:30 p.m. at Christ Church in Rochester, on opening day of the Seventh Annual Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative (EROI) Festival. Lithuanian Consul General, Ambassador Jonas Paslauskas to the United States, will be in attendance. The organ’s finishing touch, placing the figure of King David in the organ case, will also take place prior to the concert. Several other events have been scheduled from October 16-20, during which the public can hear the magnificent instrument.
More than 200 organ musicians, scholars, and builders from around the world will attend the EROI Festival from October 16-20, which will feature presentations, panels, discussions, and more than 10 concerts. It is devoted to the preservation of old and historic organs and to building a collection of new and historic organs of diverse styles and traditions unparalleled in North America.
With the added perspective of the new Craighead-Saunders Organ, the Festival will include a two-day symposium entitled J. S. Bach and the Organ. See a complete schedule of events at http://www.esm.rochester.edu/eroi/festival-2008.php.
The inaugural concert will premiere three newly commissioned pieces composed by Stephen Kennedy (USA), Martin Herchenröder (Germany), and Matthew Suttor (Australia/USA) and feature eminent organists David Higgs, Hans Davidsson, William Porter, Eastman School Professor of Harpsichord and Organ; Harald Vogel, German organist and one of the leading experts on renaissance and baroque keyboard music; Eastman School Professor of Lute Paul O’Dette and Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Players, and others.
The second major event the concert coincides with is the American Guild of Organists’ designation of 2008-09 as International Year of the Organ. This celebration promotes the organ in its historic and evolving roles, begins in July 2008 and continues through June 2009. It will feature a multitude of activities worldwide, ranging from organ concerts and recitals to organ-building workshops and special organ music appreciation classes.
About the Eastman School of Music
The Eastman School of Music (www.esm.rochester.edu), located in Rochester, NY, is one of the world’s leading and top ranked music schools, educating 500 undergraduate and 400 graduate students annually in performance, composition, jazz studies and contemporary media, music education, theory, conducting, performance and musicology.
Eastman was established in 1921 by George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Company, as the first professional school of the University of Rochester. The school’s more than 95 full-time faculty members include Grammy winners, Guggenheim Fellows, ASCAP Award Recipients, and recording artists. Eastman’s prominent alumni include Renee Fleming, Anthony Dean Griffey, the late William Warfield, Ron Carter, Maria Schneider, Mitch Miller; composers Michael Torke and Charles Strouse the late composers Peter Mennin and Alexander Courage.
The Eastman School of Music Organ Department was the first department established at Eastman. Today its more than 600 living organ alumni hold many of the country’s most important church and university positions.