Conference-Concert Festival

The Organ in the Global Baroque

Cornell University, Ithaca New York
September 6-8, 2018

The baroque organ was an artifact of global culture produced by international networks of artists, artisans, traders, and adventurers. Organs of the Hanseatic League, built at the nexus of trade routes that reached around the world, incorporated materials from across the oceans: Cornish tin, tropical woods, gold and silver. Even as their distinctive material characteristics contributed to the invisible mechanisms that converted air into sound, these instruments lavishly displayed the wealth accrued through global trade by the communities that owned them. But organs themselves were also instruments of trade: the organs of the Brebos brothers found their way from Flanders to Spain, and those of Arp Schnitger from Hamburg to Brazil. In the cathedrals of the New World, indigenous artisans collaborated on conquistador organs that sounded out the meeting of colonizer and colonized. And if organs built between the 16th and the 18th centuries embodied and participated in global musical and material networks, so too did the ‘baroque organ’ in the 20th century, with the creation — especially in Asia — of landmark instruments built in historically informed styles that fostered new organ cultures.

Call for Papers:

This conference is conceived in honor of the late Jacques van Oortmerssen, whose cosmopolitan organ class in Amsterdam embodied internationalism. We invite papers that reflect in imaginative ways on the organ in the global baroque, then and now. Topics might include (but are not limited to) organ building and trade networks, organists and travel, global materials and musical technologies, colonialism, organs and the material exploitation of the natural world, the organ trade in Asia and South America, and the baroque organ in today’s world.

The conference committee welcomes paper proposals for 25-minute presentations. We particularly welcome proposals from younger scholars, and hope to make some funding assistance available for travel to the conference for current students. Abstracts of c. 300 words should be sent to info@westfield.org by April 1st, 2018.