Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hats Off to Eastman and UNT

I'm just back from engagements at two major conferences, both celebrating the installation of new organs, at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY and the University of North Texas in Denton, TX. Hats off to the conference organizers and those responsible for the splendid new instruments, which include (in Rochester) a copy of a late 18th-century German instrument by a builder named Casparini, plus Paul Fritts' latest instrument (at Sacred Heart Cathedral) and a new Taylor & Boody Tannenburg-style organ, which I played last weekend in a pair of recitals at the First Presbyterian Church in Pittsford, NY. Details on the Eastman conference can be found at EROI, aka the Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative, founded several years ago to build a significant collection of historic and historically-inspired instruments at this legendary school of music, which has always been a major presence on the worldwide organ scene.

The conference at UNT came about because of the new Helmuth Wolff organ in the Murchison Performing Arts Center (see pic above), which opened nearly a decade ago and is now finally finished with a spectacular-looking instrument. The building itself is equally distinctive: if you're driving by Denton on I-35, it's the building that looks like a very large armadillo!

I was delighted also to have the opportunity to deliver papers at both conferences, on continuo practice in the Bach circle (at EROI) and on the cultural significance of the organ music of J. S. Bach at UNT. Many thanks to the conference organizers for some very stimulating sessions, and memorable music-making!