Magazine article The American Organist

Organ Restoration Reconsidered: Proceedings of a Colloquium

Magazine article The American Organist

Organ Restoration Reconsidered: Proceedings of a Colloquium

Article excerpt

ORGAN RESTORATION RECONSIDERED: PROCEEDINGS OF A COLLOQUIUM, John R. Watson, ed. Warren, Mich.: Harmonie Park Press, 2005. Detroit Monographs in Musicology/Studies in Music, No. 44. xix, 178 pp., ill. ISBN 0-89990-128-X. $35 (available from the Organ Historical Society, Box 26811, Richmond, VA 23261; ). Historic St. Luke's Church in Smithfield, Va., sponsored a colloquium in 1999 entitled "Historic Organs Reconsidered: Restoration and Conservation for a New Century." It is no coincidence that Historic St. Luke's was the locale for such a gathering, because the church owns a rare English chamber organ from 1630. This instrument is largely unaltered and the question of what to do with it was part of the discussion at the colloquium. As it turned out, the answer to this question was not how to restore the chamber organ but whether to restore it. Indeed, the message of the colloquium is that restoration always causes an irretrievable loss of original material. Accordingly, the restoration of unique or historically significant objects should only be undertaken with the greatest of care and complete documentation, if at all.

Papers presented in 1999 are reworked into Organ Restoration Reconsidered, a book published in association with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation of Williamsburg, Va. The book is organized into four parts. The first part, "Conservation and Restoration in Context," contains papers by Laurence Libin ("Considerations on the Future of Historic Organs"), John R. Watson ("Beyond Sound: Preserving the Other Voice of Historic Organs"), R.L. Barclay ("The Restorer and the Conservator: Deconstructing Stereotypes"), and Darryl Martin ("Parallel to the Organ: The English Virginal in Stuart England"). These essays help the reader understand organ restoration within the bigger picture of musical instrument restoration and the preservation of historic objects and artworks. …

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