The Instituto de Órganos Históricos de Oaxaca (Institute of Historic Oaxacan Organs or IOHIO, pronounced YOYO) was founded in the year 2000 with the following goals in mind: to promote the use of the restored Oaxacan organs and to protect the unrestored organs from further deterioration or possible destruction.

iohioBeginning in the 1980s, a growing national awareness and appreciation of historical organs had led to restoration projects all over Mexico. In Oaxaca, seven organs were restored during the period 1991 to 2002, five of these were financed by Banamex (Banco Nacional de México) thanks to the initiative of philanthropist and music lover Alfredo Harp Helú. Yet once restored, these beautiful instruments were rarely heard after their inaugural concerts, and within a short time, began to show signs of deterioration from lack of use. Besides this, local organists in general prefer the electronic organs, since the characteristics of the antique instruments - meantone tuning, lack of pedals, a short octave, and a single 45 note keyboard - limit the musical options of the modern liturgy, weddings, and other church celebrations. But for those organists passionately interested in early music, the Oaxacan organs offer a rare opportunity to play and hear historic repertoire on relatively authentic instruments.

In view of this, the IOHIO project began in the most obvious way: by playing the organs. Hundreds of listeners attended our first concerts, attesting to the eagerness of the local community to hear the organs again, and this enthusiasm has never abated. As the word spread about the initial success of the IOHIO and its growing network of support, organist friends were drawn to Oaxaca by the opportunity to offer concerts on baroque instruments. Before long, these individual presentations were expanded into an International Organ Festival, which since 2001 has attracted some of the world´s most renowned national and international artists and has become a highly anticipated and prestigious event.

The second priority of our project focuses on the unrestored organs and their ongoing protection. Non-functioning instruments continue to be at risk of destruction, especially when the local people do not even realize that the old piece of furniture in their choir loft is an organ, let alone have any memory of its sound or historic value. And if these are not protected, someday there would be no more organs left to restore. Therefore, the IOHIO began to program regular visits to the communities with organs in order to document the instruments and oversee their conservation. With this, our project grew to include a non-musical dimension. Based on our ongoing experience over the years, the IOHIO has been able to define a permanent protection plan and a detailed documentation methodology for the historic organs in the state of Oaxaca.



The IOHIO was made possible by the combined experiences and complimentary skills of co-founders Edward Pepe and Cicely Winter and the interest of Alfredo Harp Helú in supporting an ongoing organ project in Oaxaca. Organist Ed Pepe was a specialist in the historic organ repertoire and had been the co-founder and co-director for many years of the Westfield Center for Early Keyboard Studies. Pianist and harpsichordist Cicely Winter had been a resident of Oaxaca since 1972. Through the work of her husband, archeologist Marcus Winter, she was familiar with issues related to the protection of the national heritage. Ed Pepe collaborated with the IOHIO until the year 2004 and since then has worked independently as a researcher in Mexican archives. In the meantime, Cicely Winter has continued to direct the project.



                                                2010                                                                2014

The Instituto de Órganos Históricos de Oaxaca A.C. is a non-profit organization (Asociación Civil or A.C.) which functions in collaboration with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH, the Mexican institutionwhich oversees the protection of the national heritage), the Alfredo Harp Helú Foundation in Oaxaca (FAHHO), the officials of the towns with organs, the ecclesiastical authorities, the directors and researchers in Oaxacan archives, cultural institutions of the state and federal governments, organists, musicians and scholars in Mexico and abroad and a Board of Advisors consisting of thirty experts from nine countries. The operating expenses of the IOHIO and the use of office space in the Oaxaca Philatelic Museum (MUFI) are provided by the FAHHO, while special projects receive additional support from cultural institutions as well as individual donors.

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