From September 6th until 8th, several of the late Jacques van Oortmerssen’s colleagues, students, and friends at Cornell University will organize a conference and concert festival named “The Organ in the Global Baroque” with concerts and lectures in honor of the Dutch organist, pianist, composer, and conductor. Three Dutch participants are featured in the event: organist and pianist Matthias Havinga; musicologist Paul Peeters and pianist Wim Winters.
The baroque organ was an artifact of global culture produced by international networks of artists, artisans, traders, and adventurers — built at the nexus of trade routes that reached around the world, it incorporated materials such as Cornish tin, tropical woods, gold and silver. In the cathedrals of the New World, artisans collaborated on conquistador organs that sounded out the meeting of colonizer and colonized. And if organs built between the 16th and 18th centuries embodied and participated in global musical and material networks, so too did the ‘baroque organ’ in the 20th century, with the creation of landmark instruments built in historically informed styles.
The Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies and the Cornell University Music Department are co-sponsoring this conference, conceived in honor of the late Jacques van Oortmerssen whose organ class in Amsterdam embodied internationalism. Organists from around the world will offer concerts of music that stretches from the 17th-century golden age of the organ repertoire to the present.
Keynote talks will be given by the acclaimed Bach scholar, conductor and organist John Butt (Gardiner Professor of Music at the University of Glasgow), and by the distinguished expert on organs and their music, Andrew McCrea (The Royal College of Organists and the Royal College of Music, London).
Papers presented at the conference, by scholars at all stages of their careers, reflect in imaginative ways on the organ in the global baroque, then and now. Topics will range from the East India Company in the 18th century to Bach, the ‘Baroque’ and the Organ in Japan; from diplomatic exchange between China and the West via keyboard instruments, to the global organ business of von Rudolf von Bekerath; from the claviorganum as product of cross-cultural exchange in early modern Spain, to the Organized Piano in late 18th-century North America.
Cornell’s early 18th-century style baroque organ (for which Van Oortmerssen was the inspector and a vital musical influence) built by a consortium of organ-builders in Sweden and upstate New York, under the direction of Munetaka Yokota, will be at the center of the festival. Also on the program will be Cornell’s Neapolitan organ (1748), and a new Friederici-style clavichord by Dietrich Hein.
Matthias Havinga is a concert organist and pianist. He acquired his Master of Music degree summa cum laude at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam as a student of Jacques van Oortmerssen, graduating in piano from the same institution as a pupil of Marcel Baudet. At the Royal Conservatory in The Hague he studied church music under Jos van der Kooy. He is Professor of Organ at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. Matthias was awarded several prizes at international organ competitions. He enjoys an international concert career, performing at prestigious venues across Europe, Russia, the USA and South America. Matthias also performed solo with renowned choirs and orchestras, such as the Nederlands Kamerkoor and the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. His CDs, J.S.Bach – Italian Concertos, Passacaglia and Dutch Delight, released on the Brilliant Classics label, have been received with widespread acclaim. Matthias is organist titulaire of the 1830 Bätz-organ at the Koepelkerk in Amsterdam, and liturgical organist of the Oude Kerk in Amsterdam, playing the Vater/Müller-organ (1726/1738) and Ahrend-organ (1965).
Paul Peeters studied musicology at Utrecht University, where his main teachers in the field of the organ were Dr. Maarten Albert Vente and Dr. Jan van Biezen. He studied organ with Kees van Houten and Jacques van Oortmerssen, and attended courses with Klaas Bolt, Harald Vogel, and Jean-Claude Zehnder. From 1983–1991 he was general editor of the Dutch organ journal Het Orgel.
In 1995 he emigrated to Göteborg, Sweden, and was appointed librarian and coordinator of the documentation at the Göteborg Organ Art Center (GOArt) at the University of Gothenburg. From 2004–2007 he served as GOArt director. Since 2008, he has been the project leader of the Göteborg International Organ Academy and taught organ building history at the Academy of Music and Drama, University of Gothenburg.
At present, he is completing a doctoral dissertation (“French and German Organ Building in the 19th Century. Comparative Studies of the Sound Concepts of Cavaillé-Coll and Walcker”). From its foundation in 1990 until 2013, he has been a board member of the International Association of Organ Documentation (IAOD), 2006-2013 as its chairman. In 2016, he succeeded Peter Williams as editor of The Organ Yearbook.
Even though a Belgian by birth, Wim Winters studied for eight years at the Sweelinck Conservatory of Amsterdam, with Jacques van Oortmerssen and Willem Brons (piano). After having devoted much of his time to the organ and the 19th century piano, since 2008 he has regularly performed works by the Bach family, Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven on a 5-octave unfretted clavichord in Saxon style built by Joris Potvlieghe. In 2014, Wim launched Authentic Sound as a YouTube channel to showcase the authentic but relatively seldom heard “voice” of the 18th century unfretted clavichord. The channel developed rapidly into a platform presenting thought-provoking performances of music from Bach to Beethoven and even Chopin with over 700 videos at present. Particular focus today is placed on the reconstruction of original tempi, perhaps the most important, but still missing link in understanding the original thoughts of the composer.
In 2018, Authentic Sound officially evolved into a recording label whose prime goal is to deliver high quality – analog recorded – audio recordings that not only illustrate the outcome of our research but also try to reveal long-hidden but often surprisingly powerful musical emotions in seemingly familiar musical works. While currently focusing on the work of Wim Winters, the label will soon expand to a broader group of dedicated musicians who share similar passion. In June 2018, the Authentic Sound label launched its first production, the Hexacordum Apollinisof Johann Pachelbel on LP/CD. The 6 Bach partitas will see light in December 2018. In 2019, Wim will begin recording all of Beethoven’s piano works on a newly built copy of a six-octave 1816 Fritz fortepiano also from the Potvlieghe workshop.
Even though many international participants are involved in this event, most of them spend significant amounts of time under Van Oortmerssen’s wing in Amsterdam or elsewhere in the world, keeping the Dutchman’s influence in music studies alive. For more information and online registration for the event, visit the Cornell University website.