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August 4,
2003

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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Crossing the Atlantic for the love of pipes

In the cold winter day of January 6, a group of 31 organ students and four organ faculty members from the Eastman School of Music boarded a plane for the field trip of a lifetime. Destination: Göteborg, Sweden, where the history, craftmanship, and culture of one of music's grandest instruments is celebrated and studied.

"This sensational opportunity gave our students a broader understanding of the organ's place in today's world and how they are a part of it," says David Higgs, cochair of the Eastman School's keyboard department and head of its organ program.

While in Sweden, students attended seminars and concerts, exchanged ideas with students from the School of Music at Göteborg University, and performed on several organs at the Göteborg Organ Art Center (GOArt), an international center for research in historical organ building and performance practice.

Founded and directed by noted Swedish organist and Eastman Associate Professor Hans Davidsson, the GOArt Center is home to a group of modern scientists, engineers, and tunesmiths who have replicated some of the finest historic organs down to the smallest detail, Davidsson says.

The trip to Sweden is part of the organ program's larger vision to enrich the local community with one of the top organ collections in North American and create an international center of study for organ artisans and performers.

Recently launched, the Eastman Rochester Organ Initiative (EROI)--a 10-year plan that emphasizes collaboration between local churches and Eastman's organ department--lays out long-term goals, including building a new organ for Rochester's Christ Church that can be used for teaching and for recitals by Eastman students as well as building a new performance organ specifically designed for the Eastman Theatre.

In fall 2002, the organ department sponsored a series of events to raise both local and international awareness of the initiative. The first annual EROI Festival, held in conjunction with Eastman Alumni Weekend, drew organ students, builders, and performers from all parts of the world to participate in hands-on workshops, seminars, and performances.

The department also sponsored a series of community concerts to showcase Rochester organs and to raise funds for the trip to Sweden.

To learn more about Eastman's organ program and the EROI, visit www.rochester.edu/Eastman/organ/index.html.



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