Antique organ lives on at Rochester University gallery

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North America’s only full-size, fully functional antique Italian organ is located at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester, New York.

Built in central Italy in the mid-18th century, this remarkable organ was discovered in Florence around 1980 by a German craftsman who specialized in restoring musical instruments. It was almost taken apart and sold as pieces of home furnishings. Fortunately, the renowned Eastman School of Music, which is part of the University of Rochester, acquired the organ and restored it to its former glory. In 2005, it was installed in the Memorial Art Gallery’s Fountain Court.

Featuring 600 pipes and unique artistic details, the organ is the centerpiece of an exhibition of 30 Baroque-period paintings and sculptures. Visitors can enjoy mini-recitals every Sunday, during which students from the Eastman School of Music perform.

The Memorial Art Gallery occupies the location of the original campus of the University of Rochester and is still part of the university. Eastman School of Music Professor of Organ William Porter performed an excerpt from “Pavane Prymera,” a 16th-century composition, on the organ.

To view an excerpt of the performance, click here.


About Jeannine Guilyard

Jeannine Guilyard is a longtime correspondent for Fra Noi and the Italian-American community newspaper in Rochester, N.Y. She has also contributed to the Italian Tribune of New Jersey, Italian Tribune of Michigan and L'Italo Americano of Southern California. Jeannine wrote and directed the short film "Gelsomina," which was selected for the Screenings Program of the 59th Venice Film Festival, and she won Emmy and Peabody awards as an editor of ABC's "Special Report" following the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Jeannine is also a writer and editor for Italian Cinema Today, a publication and blog she founded in 2005 to bridge culture between New York and Italy. Follow her on Instagram at Italianartcinema and on Twitter at @ItaloCinema2day.

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