Celebrating Henry Erben’s 219th birthday in the organ loft

On March 10th, 2019, we hosted an open organ loft event to celebrate preeminent New York organ builder Henry Erben’s 219th birthday. This was probably the first time his birthday has been celebrated since 1884! This event was held in the spirit of the 19th century’s curiosity of both art and science. Visitors were invited up to the loft to learn about Henry Erben and his masterwork, the 1868 pipe organ at the Basilica. Refreshments and decorations contributed to the festive scene. We experienced considerable foot traffic as the event was open to all. Multiple people walked in off the street where we stationed a sidewalk sign, and were very impressed with hearing the Erben as well as seeing the inner workings of this 19th-century pneumatic computer.

A special thanks to Ellen Shuan for contributing her time and talent with these photos. Follow Ellen on Instagram

The console of the 1868 Henry Erben organ
Organists Maria Rayzvasser and Thomas Hobson Williams
Three organists enjoying time at the Erben.
Thomas Hobson Williams
Basilica Organist and Music Director Jared Lamenzo
Maria passionately talks about the organ with loft visitors
Thomas explains a point about the organ to a visitor
Visitors and tourists from all over the world
Getting a good angle of the organ pipes in the crowd of tourists
Jared Lamenzo and Eric Fahner at the console, as a visitor looks on
Refreshments included Mozart Sticks candy from Austria, in a nod to the history of Mozart and his librettist Lorenzo da Ponte at the Basilica.
A serendipitous moment next to Henry Erben’s portrait…
Organist Eric Fahner
Jared Lamenzo and Eric Fahner.
Tourists are learning about the historic Henry Erben organ. Large crowds visited the loft during our Henry Erben celebration.
Jared Lamenzo performed a period piece, Dudley Buck’s “Old Folks at Home”.
Festive mood set to celebrate Henry’s birthday.
Maria sharing a laugh with the guests.
Putting the pedal to the metal at the historic pedalboard.
Lana Krakovskiy and Eric Fahner.

All photos by Ellen Shuan. Instagram: @ellensaart