November 27 - December 5, 2001




Nearly eighty members of the Mexican and international organ community gathered in Oaxaca for an International Festival of Organ Music and a Conference on the theme of “The Restoration of Organs in Latin America.” Participants from thirteen countries representing diverse professions related to historic organs and their restoration were drawn to Oaxaca for more than a week of intense activity related to the historic organs. Concerts were presented on three of the six restored organs (Tlacochahuaya, Cathedral and La Soledad), two more were heard during musical demonstrations (Yanhuitlán and Zautla) and the sixth (Tamazulapan de Progreso) was unfortunately too far away from the city of Oaxaca to include in the program. In addition, the Festival offered five organ master classes and visits to two unrestored organs, while 32 lectures were presented during the Conference.

The goal of the Festival was to allow the organs to be played by international specialists in the Iberian repertoire and heard by a growing public of organ music enthusiasts. The goal of the Conference was to create an opportunity for those present to learn about Oaxaca’s outstanding collection of baroque instruments and to reflect on how best to protect them. In both cases, the stated goals were surpassed beyond all expectations. The Conference resulted in two important documents, the Oaxaca Protocol 2001, signed by all participants, which sums up the guiding principles for future organ restorations, and the preliminary version of a technical and ethical Code for the Restoration of Organs in Latin America.

Nine present and former students of organ professors José Suárez from the National Conservatory of Music and Victor Urbán from the School of Sacred Music in Toluca, Mexico, and three foreign organists participated in a series of five master classes, three with Bovet and two after the conclusion of the Festival with Elisa Freixo and Cristina García Banegas. Students present for the duration of each session had a chance to perform two pieces from the 16th-18th century repertoire and discuss with their teachers such topics as the relationship of music and mathematics during the baroque period and the importance of accuracy during shifts of meter within a piece; the necessity of consulting source material for insights into performance practice; the relationship of instrumental to vocal music and the importance of maintaining an organic sense of breathing and phrasing when playing an instrument; the articulation and ornamentation of baroque music; and the necessity of seeking an alternative to an electric organ as a practice instrument, preferably a piano, in order to build up finger technique. Although these students have been trained in the complete chronological and stylistic spectrum of organ repertoire, it is hoped that some of them may eventually develop particular interest in the early music suited to the Oaxacan organs. 



November 27 (Tuesday)

The Festival activities began with the first of three organ master classes in Tlacochahuaya with Guy Bovet, considered one of the world´s experts on historic organ repertoire.




November 28 (Wednesday)

Second organ master class with Guy Bovet in Tlacochahuaya





November 29 (Thursday)

Third organ master class with Guy Bovet in Tlacochahuaya




The Inauguration of the First International Festival, Conference and Exhibits of Photographs and Technical Drawings of the Oaxacan Historic Organs took place in the Philatelic Museum of Oaxaca (Museo de Filatelia o MUFI). Eduardo Sigler, Director of the Museum of Monte Alban, acted as master of ceremonies.


Cicely Winter, Director of the IOHIO, and Edward Pepe, Sub-director, then offered words of welcome and reflections on this first major event of the IOHIO and the topic of organ restorations

Moíses Rosas, Technical Secretary of the INAH, spoke about the organ as an evangelizing tool and its impact on the native population.

Alfredo Harp Helú, President of the Fideicomiso Amigos de Oaxaca A.C. and patron of the IOHIO, reiterated his support of the IOHIO’s work.

Cándida Fernández, Director of Fomento Cultural Banamex, presented a detailed description of the activities of the AMMAO (Academia Mexicana de Música Antigua para Órgano) organ project in Oaxaca, supported by Banamex

In keeping with the philatelic theme of the museum, a special postal cancellation was presented by Jesús Rivas Solórzano, superintendant of the Oaxaca Post Office in representation of the Mexican Postal System (Correos de México), and Alejandra Mora, Director of the MUFI, to commemorate the Festival and Conference.

Two special exhibits were inaugurated in celebration of the Festival: photographs by Edward Pepe (U.S.A.) of 45 of the 55 organs registered to date in the state and 18 technical drawings of five organs from different perspectives by José Luis Acevedo (Mexico).


We then traveled to San Jerónimo Tlacochahuaya to hear Guy Bovet in the First Concert of the Festival.  Bovet has particular expertise in the Spanish repertoire and is also famous for his extemporaneous playing. His program was comprised of works by Spanish composers and ended with improvisations on local folk tunes inspired by a recording of Oaxacan music he had listened to in his hotel room the night before! The beautifully decorated 16th century church of Tlacochahuaya, which houses Oaxaca´s most famous organ, always offers a dramatic visual counterpart to the experience of the sound.


November 30 (Friday)

The Conference took place in the elegant setting of the Francisco de Burgoa Library, thanks to the support of the director María Isabel Grañen Porrúa. Simultaneous translation was provided in both English and Spanish.

The following lectures were presented on the theme of “General Topics of Restoration”

Representatives of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH):



Teresita Loaera, National Coordinator of the Conservation of the National Patrimony, María del Perpétuo Socorro Villareal Escárrega, National Coordinator of the Judicial Branch of the INAH, and Eduardo López Calzada, Director of the Oaxaca Regional Center of the INAH: “The Conservation and Protection of the National Historic Patrimony According to Federal Law”



Laurence Libin: “Organ Conservation from a Museum Perspective”

Conferences by European experts:

Hans Davidsson: “The Research Project of North German Organs at the University of Göteborg, Sweden”

Henk van Eeken: “Regulations in the Netherlands for the Protection and Conservation of the Historic Monuments during the last Fifty Years”

Pascal Quoirin: “Organ Restoration in France, South America, and Mexico: Comparisons”

Federico Acitores: “Documentation and Regulations for Organ Restoration in Spain”

Gerhard Grenzing: “Introduction to the Origin and Stylistic Development of the Iberian Organ, Schools and Influences”

That afternoon we met at the Basílica de la Soledad to hear the description of Oaxaca´s most recent organ restoration in 2000.  Gustavo Delgado spoke about the restoration in place of the two restorers Pieter Visser and Ignacio Zapata, who unfortunately did not attend the event. Elisa Freixo then played the organ, so that everyone gathered down below in the church could evaluate its sound. Since Delgado had forgotten to provide illumination for the interior of the organ, the organbuilders were unable to see the pipework. However, this was remedied a few nights later during Freixo´s concert, thanks to the lighting provided by the television crew.


We proceeded to the Oaxaca Cathedral where Susan Tattershall (U.S.A.) described the process of the reconstruction of the 8´ organ (1711) and Ed Pepe and Lynn Edwards (Canada) provided a musical demonstration.


The Second Concert of the Festival in the Oaxaca Cathedral featured Spanish organist Roberto Fresco in a program which included a selection of pieces representing a wide spectrum of European musical cultures. His elegant technique and the range of sounds he brought forth from the organ were enhanced by the illumination of the Cathedral by votive candles lining the railing of the choir loft.

December 1 (Saturday)

The entire day was devoted to visiting organs, restored and unrestored, outside of Oaxaca City. In the grand Dominican convent of Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán, Gustavo Delgado, project coordinator, and Pascal Quoirin, restorer, spoke about the restoration of the organ in 1997, and Delgado played several pieces for the participants assembled in the immense choir loft. A historic pipe not reused in the restoration was passed around, and much discussion was generated about whether the restorer should always try to incorporate the historic pieces of the organ into the restoration, no matter how deteriorated their condition, or whether it is preferable to introduce new material (especially pipes), which may function more evenly, to match the old.  The group had a chance to admire the recently reassembled main altar and listen to an explanation of the church architecture and decoration by restorer Gisele Pérez Moreno.

We then proceeded to Santa María Tiltepec, whose charming 17th-century church with its carved stone facade has been much admired and studied because of the mix of indigenous motifs and Christian symbols. After a formal welcome by the town officials, Marina Corres, restorer in the INAH, gave an explanation of the facade designs and of her restoration of the unique, multicolored and elaborately carved 18th-century organ case. This organ, one of the jewels in the Oaxaca crown, is in excellent condition and was still played until around thirty years ago, as attested to by some of the older members of the community. All the restorers in the group were dying to get their hands on this organ! However, the restoration of such an unusual and well-preserved instrument should be postponed until other restorations have been carried out on less significant organs and more is known about the Oaxacan organ culture in general.

Once again the town officials and the band were waiting to greet us in San Andrés Sinaxtla. This visit was programmed so that participants could have a sense of the post-Dominican building style in Oaxaca, beginning in the late 18th century. The case is typically austere and unadorned in comparison with the exuberantly decorated earlier organs and is indicative of case design from that time on. The date of the organ, 1791, and the name of the donor appear in large letters across the façade, providing a valuable chronological reference for other organs of the period. Unfortunately, some of the pipes, while largely intact, may have been altered or possibly replaced as a result of various interventions over the years.

Not only the town officials and the band, but also giant dancing dolls (monos de la calenda) welcomed us in San Andrés Zautla. Coincidentally, Nov. 30 is the day of San Andrés, so in both Sinaxtla and Zautla, the churches were gaily decorated for the town´s saint day celebration. Mezcal was served lavishly in little gourds, each guest was festooned with a garland of bougainvillea and given a bunch of aromatic herbs (poleo), and speeches and dancing started soon after the platters of food arrived. We were most reluctant to separate ourselves from the sumptuous meal and the wonderful hospitality of the local women, but were amply rewarded by the sight and sound of Zautla´s little gem of an organ, exquisitely decorated all over with saints and archangels. James Wyly played for everyone, and afterwards Susan Tattershall spoke about the restoration in 1996.

It took us nearly an hour to reach Tlacochahuaya, giving everyone a chance to recover from the feast and rest on the bus before the next concert. The Third Concert of the Festival in Tlacochahuaya featured Cristina García Banegas. Her program included transcriptions of manuscripts from South American and Mexican archives by Hispanic composers and contrasted lively songs and dances accompanied by drums and bells with more serious secular and religious works. García Banegas is as famous for recordings with her choir, “De Profundis”, as for her organ recordings.  After the concert, interested folks could ascend to the choir loft to admire the organ up close and listen to Susan Tattershall talk about its restoration in 1991, which was the first in the group of recent restorations.

December 2 (Sunday)

We met once again in the Burgoa Library for the second session of the Conference, presenting lectures by archive researchers, organ restorers, and representatives of various South American countries.

Joaquin Wesslowski: “Organ Restorations in Mexico”

Susan Tattershall: “The Overarching Challenges of Organ Restoration in Mexico”

Aurelio Tello: “Organists and Organbuilders in the Oaxaca Cathedral, the First Music Center in Colonial Mexico”

Jorge Mejía: “Recent Research about Organs and Organists in the Archive of the Oaxaca Cathedral”

Edward Pepe: “References to the Organ of the Oaxaca Cathedral in the Letters of the Organbuilder Tomás Ríos”

Piotr Nawrot: “Historic Organs in Bolivia from the XVII – XX Centuries”

Enrique Godoy: “The Baroque Mestizo School of Organ Construction in the Altiplano of Bolivia”

Elisa Freixo:“The Arp Schnitger Organ in Mariana, Brazil”

Cristina García Banegas: “The Panorama of Organs in South America”

Young Mexican organ restorers (Eduardo Bribiesca, José Luis Falcon, Alejandro Madrigal): “Personal experiences”

Christoph Metzler: “An Organ  Built by Arp Schnitger (1701) and its History”

Henk van Eeken “The Importance of the Idea of Process Reconstruction for the Manufacture and Restoration of Organ Pipes”

Gerhard Grenzing: “A Technical Evaluation of Spanish Organs”

Open session for restorers (including Tattershall, Wesslowski, Acitores, van Eeken, Quoirin, etc.)

The Fourth Concert of the Festival took place in the Basílica de la Soledad. Elisa Freixo, titular organist of the famous Schnitger organ in Mariana, Brazil, made this most recently restored organ in Oaxaca sing as never before during her program of contrasting works by Spanish and Italian composers. The accessibility of the church of La Soledad within the city of Oaxaca and its wide nave permitting an unobstructed view of the organ create a wonderful concert venue.

December 3 (Monday)

The last day of the Conference was divided into two parts. The first session offered talks about Projects in Mexico related to the historic organs.

Víctor Urbán: “Organs, Organ Music, and Organists in Spain and Mexico in the XVI, XVII and XVIII centuries”

Alfonso Vega Nuñez: “The Morelia Organ Festival”

Gustavo Delgado: “Activities of the Academia Mexicana de Música Antigua para Órgano, AMMAO”

Mercedes Gómez and Daniel Guzmán: “Projects and Programs of the National School of restoration of the INAH”

Josué Gastellou: “Catalogue and Documentation of the Organs in Puebla and Tlaxcala”

Guy Bovet: “Catalogue and Documentation of the Historic Organs of Mexico (UNESCO/Pro Helvetia)”

Michael Barone: “The Organ Culture in the United States”

Montserrat Torrent (in absentia, read by Roberto Fresco):“The Restoration of a Historic Organ from the Point of View of an Interpreter”

Edward Pepe: “Discovering the Historic Organs of Oaxaca”

The Conference culminated in a Round Table discussion  (moderators: Lynn Edwards in English, and Horacio Franco in Spanish) of the “Oaxaca Protocol, 2001” which distilled the basic concepts set forth in the longer and more detailed ethical and technical code “Regulations for the Organ Restoration in Latin America.” This Code, which had been circulated to key participants weeks before the Conference, was designed with Oaxaca’s needs in mind, but will hopefully be useful in other states of Mexico, as well as other countries of Latin America, where official guidelines for organ restoration are lacking. The list of basic principles was voted on unanimously and signed by all participants. It has now been revised and renamed “Guidelines for the Restoration of Historic Organs in Mexico” and submitted to the INAH for evaluation by experts in restoration and related fields LINK

The Department of Tourism sponsored our final group comida in the splendid setting of the former 16th c. convent of Santa Catarina de Siena, now the Hotel Camino Real.  A local folk dance group entertained us as we feasted on mole negro. After the many toasts and speeches to commemorate the end of this spectacular First Festival, everyone scrambled to exchange contact information and discuss collaborative projects with new friends.

The Oaxaca Cathedral glowed again with candlelight for the Fifth Concert of the Festival presented by baroque flutist Horacio Franco and organist José Suárez. This duo always attracts an adoring audience in Mexico, and they make a marvelous team, balancing diabolical virtuosity with angelic lyricism. Their program combined works by J. S. Bach and other composers with pieces from the archives of the Cathedrals of Mexico City and Oaxaca. This concert insured that the Festival ended on an exuberant note.


December 4 (Tuesday)

INAH archeologist Marcus Winter led a guided tour of the archeological site of Monte Albán.

Elisa Freixo and Cristina García Banegas offered the fourth organ master class in Tlacochahuaya.


December 5 (Wednesday)

The Festival was concluded with the fifth organ master class in Tlacochahuaya with Elisa Freixo and Cristina García Banegas

Michael Barone, director of the radio program, “Pipedreams,” produced by Minnesota Public Radio, an affiliate of Public Radio International, recorded all of the concerts. “Pipedreams” is known all over the United States by lovers of organ music, and the five concerts of the Festival will be broadcast to more than one hundred and fifty stations nation wide in November 2002. The last three concerts were recorded by the local Oaxacan TV network, Channel 9, and have been enthusiastically received by local viewers. In fact, several people in the community, who have never attended an organ concert nor had even known what a historic organ is, have expressed to the IOHIO their delight and pride in watching these broadcasts!



The personal contacts and collaborations set up as a result of the Conference have already enhanced historic organ activity beyond Oaxaca´s borders, and participants have repeatedly expressed their appreciation to the IOHIO for allowing them to meet people they had always heard about. Laurence Libin has generously received various Conference participants at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and restorer Mireya Olvera spent ten days there during which she was able to become acquainted with the Met´s collections of musical instruments and paintings, their restoration labs and techniques, and research facilities.

 Several European organ builders as well as Mexican resident Joaquin Wesslowski have offered space in their shops for selected Mexican apprentices, opportunities which could help Mexico build its infrastructure for historic organ restoration and create more organ builders of international caliber. The first to take advantage of this opportunity was José Luis Acevedo who studied in the shop of Gerhard Grenzing in Barcelona from May-August, 2002. Other participants in the Conference have expressed interest in studying organbuilding abroad as well. Víctor Urbán and José Suárez have both offered to teach young Oaxacan organists, though unfortunately there are no candidates at present.

 Daniel Guzmán, the head of the Musical Instrument Department of the Escuela Nacional de Conservación, Restauración y Museografía (ENCRyM), offered for the second time a course entitled “Introduction to the Restoration of Pipe Organs” during the month of August in 2001 and 2002, and four of his students from the ENCRyM, three local restorers, and several others simply interested in restoration were present for the duration of the Conference. Mercedes Gómez, Director of the School, attended the last two days of the event and was an active participant in the discussion defining the basic principles of the Oaxaca Protocol 2001. The establishment of a one-year basic orientation in organ restoration in the ENCRyM is being discussed, as a means of preparing interested students for further study in organbuilding.

 Several members of the Asociación Mexicana de Organistas A.C., the sister organization of the IOHIO, were present at the Conference, which reinforced and enhanced their activities. Josué Gastelloú and other organists who studied with Víctor Urbán were inspired by the Conference to organize a Festival for the historic organ in San Martín Cuitzeo, Puebla.

The director of the IOHIO was invited to speak at the International Workshop offered by the Centro Iberoamericano del Órgano Barroco in Valladolid, Spain, in September and at a exhibit of historic manuscripts and instruments at the University of Puebla in October. (Unfortunately she was not able to attend.)

 As a result of contacts made during the Conference in Oaxaca, Joaquín Wesslowski and Laurence Libin visited the GOArt project in Göteborg, Sweden, directed by Hans Davidsson, in August.

 The Conference has continued to receive international publicity. A description of the events has been published in major organ journals around the world, including La Tribune de L’Orgue (Guy Bovet) in Switzerland and The Tracker, Diapason (James Wyly) and Westfield (Laurence Libin and Edward Pepe) in the United States;  Cicely Winter’s article, Voces del Pasado: los Órganos Históricos de Oaxaca, was published in Acervos, the journal of the Francisco de Burgoa Library, in February 2002; and Ed Pepe has  contributed an article to the fall issue of Acervos, “A Typology of the Oaxacan Organs:”

Contact between the towns with organs and the IOHIO has been intensified since the Conference. The authorities and other inhabitants are showing more interest in their organs as public awareness increases, and the IOHIO has received increasing numbers of phone calls, formal petitions and office visits. People are especially excited to see a photograph of their organ among the whole group of Oaxacan instruments displayed on the wall of the IOHIO office.

Representatives of the Göteborg Organ Art (GOArt) Center in Sweden, Hans Davidsson and Henk van Eeken, have expressed interest in collaborating with the IOHIO in the documentation of a Oaxacan organ considered a candidate for restoration. The high standards established by GOArt in their documentation techniques could serve as a model in Oaxaca and elsewhere in Mexico and raise consciousness about the importance of precise records. Europeans are especially sensitive to this issue because so many of their historic organs have been lost or irreparably altered before they were properly documented Therefore it is important to take measures now in order to prevent the same fate befalling Mexico.

The IOHIO feels privileged to have been able to provide a forum in which so many people interested in the topic of historic organs could establish personal connections and come to feel part of an international community. Many participants had never met before, and for several, this was the first trip to Mexico. The Festival was so well-received that it will be an annual event and will once again be programmed with another Conference on the theme of organ restoration, from November 21 – 25, 2002. The Second Conference will focus on the Interpretation and Implementation of the Restoration Code and will include several field trips to see and hear historic organs. The unqualified success of the Conference has in no way signified a conclusion, however, but rather an inspiration for continuing activity.



The IOHIO is grateful for the support of the following institutions:

Consejo Nacional para las Artes y la Cultura (CONACULTA)

Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (INBA)

Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH)

Instituto Oaxaqueño de las Culturas (IOC)

Secretaría de Desarrollo Turístico del Estado de Oaxaca (SEDETUR)

Fideicomiso Amigos de Oaxaca A.C.

Arquidiócesis de Oaxaca

Embassy of Spain in México

Embassy of France in México

Embassy of the Netherlands in México

Embassy of Uruguay in México

Eastman School of Music

Göteborg Organ Art Center

Pro Helvetia

Líneas Aéreas TACA

Líneas Aéreas de Bolivia

Corporación Oaxaqueña de Radio y Televisión (CORTV)

Caminos y Puentes Federales (CAPUFE)


We are also grateful for the support of the following Oaxacan business:

Proveedora Gráfica de Oaxaca