Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The International Organ and Early Music Festival in Oaxaca: Inauguration.

Last Thursday, February 18th, the Institute of Historical Organs of Oaxaca (IOHIO), inaugurated their 11th International Organ and Early Music Festival in Oaxaca, with a cocktail at their headquarters, at the MUFI or Stamp Museum. The keynote speakers were Cicely Winters, Director of IOHIO, and Maria Isabel Grañén Porrua, on behalf of the Alfredo Harp Foundation.

The conference table at the IOHIO cocktail with
Cicely Winters, Maria Isabel Grañen Porrua and
the parish priest of the recently restored organ of

The good temperate weather of the late afternoons
of February let us enjoy the outside courtyard of
the IOHIO headquarters for the cocktail,
The following morning at the Burgoa Library, Cicely Winter gave a conference on the objectives and accomplishments of IOHIO.
Cicely Winter explained the main activities of IOHIO are:
  • "assure that restored instruments are played and maintained, and that unrestored instruments are protected, conserved and documented
  • offer musical and technical training at the local level
  • promote the organs through concerts, festivals, publications, conferences and recordings.
  • increase knowledge about the organs through archive and community research."
 Cicely Winter explaining the
four basic fields of activities
Cicely Winter showed us pictures of the nine restored and reconstructed organs in Oaxaca:
  • San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya (restored 1991)
  • San Andrés Zautla (restored 1996)
  • Oaxaca Cathedral (reconstructed 1997)
  • Santa Maria de la Navidad Tamazulapan (reconstructed 1997)
  • Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán (reconstructed 1998)
  • La Basílica de la Soledad in Oaxaca (restored 2000)
  • Santa María de la Asunción Tlaxiaco (restored 2002)
  • San Pedro Zapotitlan Lagunas (repaired 2013)
  • Samta María de la Asunción Tlacolula (2014)

Cicely Winter showed us pictures of each one
of the restored organs in the State of Oaxaca, and
sponsored by her organization IOHIO.
The International Organ and Early Music Festival has a 7 day program, between concerts, visits to restored organs, visits to shrines with organs in the process of being restored and visits to churches with organs that haven't been restored, but that are possible candidates of restoration during the upcoming years. Estela and I assisted only during the first 4 days of the program (Thursday to Sunday) and we went to 7 concerts, at 6 different locations, two in the state capital of Oaxaca, and 4 in towns either up north in the Alta Mixteca, and the rest towards the southeast, in the Valle Central, close to the world-famous Mitla archaeological area.
Liuwe Tamminga (right), organ
concertist from Bologna, during the
coffee break at the IOHIO presentation
IOHIO does a good job of bringing the top keyboard talent of world-renown from the United States and Europe. This year we had the chance to listen to Liewe Tamminga, the resident organ player at the San Petronio Basilica in Bologna, Bruce Dickey, who has revived the once forgotten instrument of the cornetto. Robert Bates from the University of Houston played at San Andrés Zautla, Michael Ging, Christopher Holman, Jeffrey Cooper were also guests concertistas. Cicely Winter gave us a potpourri of tunes from the early 20th Century, from every region of the State of Oaxaca. Among the Mexican talent was Juan Luis Gonzalez Gómez, Victor Contreras, Victor Manuel Morales, Margarita Ricardez, Tonatiuh González, Jesús González, with Valentiin Hernandez on Percussions, and Alberto Rivilla with a special treat, with his magical playing of the guitar and the Tiomra. One of our favorites was Craig Cramer (Organ Professor, Notre Dame, Indiana) magical concert at a magical church:  San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya.
Maybe that is the point: the magic quality of the mystical experience of the architecture, the paintings, the sculptures, the wooden and marble retablos or altarpieces, the mosaics, the beautiful tile floors, the peace and silence inside the churches, the smell of beeswax and incense, an organ that is being played after 100 years of silence and abandonment, accompanied in good taste with percussions and wind instruments. A person beside me whispered to me "How embarrassing! I dozed off halfway through the concert!" Maybe she did, or maybe it was a case of what happened to many of us: we were uplifted, drawn out of ourselves. If you have never had such an experience, maybe you should think of spending sometime in Oaxaca.

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