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The UPR inaugurates its Theater's Great Organ

The Theater of the University of Puerto Rico at the Rio Piedras Campus inaugurated its new great organ on March, 2009. The first recital of the Great Organ Opening series took place during the 53rd celebration of the Casals Festival (February 21 through March 19). In total, the Opening series included three recitals.

During the first recital on March 3, the great organ was played by renowned American organist, harpsichordist, fortepianist, conductor and composer Anthony Newman. Some of the musical pieces featured in the event were from Bach, Mozart, Rameau and Couperin, while others were of Newman's own composition.

The second recital took place on March 7 and included music from the Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maximiliano Vald├ęs (Chile). In this occasion, the Symphony Orchestra played Tembandumba's Court Dance, pianist Mihaela Ursuleasa (Romania) rendered Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 4 and Newman performed Saint-Saëns' Symphony No. 3 for organ.

The UPR's Theater Great Organ (Photo Courtesy of: Diálogo Digital) The last of the recitals went up on stage on March 21 with the debut "Requiem Domesticus", a 75-minute piece from Puerto Rican Carlos Alberto Vázquez dedicated to all victims of domestic violence. The piece assembled an impressive 200 musicians and chorus members on stage. On the great organ was Scott Hanoian (US), musical director and organist from the Christ Church Grosse Pointe in Michigan. The Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra also participated, this time under the direction of Michal Nesterowicz (Poland), musical director of the National Symphony Orchestra of Chile. Other musicians included soprano Margarita Elia (Chipre), mezzosoprano Edna Prochnik (Israel), tenor Karim Sulayman (Lebanese-American), bass Denis Sedov (Russia), the choir of the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras Campus, Coralia (the UPR's concert choir), and the San Juan Children's Choir.

Requiem Domesticus assembled an impressive 200 musicians and chorus members on stage.
(Photo Courtesy of Noticampus-UPR Río Piedras Campus Website)

The University's great organ, which was the star of all three recitals, has 2,341 pipes. This 31-stop tracker instrument, created by the artisanal Canadian company Casavant Frères, is a tonally eclectic design, capable of handling nearly any piece of repertoire. The organ took several months of construction and was installed during the University's last Christmas recess. The Great Organ Opening series event initiated the commemorative activities celebrating the UPR Theater's 70th anniversary.

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