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Thursday August 2, 2012

BRATTLEBORO -- The Estey Organ Museum and The University of Brattleboro co-host the second annual Levi Fuller A435 Extravaganza Simple Instrument Creation and Tuning on Saturday at 3 p.m.

This musical instrument-making workshop celebrates Levi Fuller, vice-president of the Estey Organ Company and son-in-law of its founder Jacob Estey. See video of the first extravaganza at

Come experience the remarkable story of America’’s first international pitch, standardized in 1891, and the Brattleboro inventor, businessman and musical pioneer who helped bring the world in tune shortly after he served as the 44th governor of Vermont.

This hands-on afternoon will feature making simple instruments, tuning them to A435, and then having an improvised performance. The event is part of the museum’s new effort to encourage people to make things. Additional classes and workshops are scheduled for this fall as part of EOM’s new Estey Labs.

After creating and tuning their instruments, makers will journey to Fuller’s enormous obelisk at Morningside Cemetery to play them for the former governor. The goal is to play the first note at exactly 4:35 p.m., and continue improvising for 4 minutes and 35 seconds in celebration of Fuller’s contributions to Brattleboro, to Vermont, and to worldwide musicmaking.

Ned Phoenix, founder of the Estey Organ Museum, will relate Fuller’s accomplishments and demonstrate "Why We Tune." Estey organs will be heard at various pitches, including A435.

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All ages are encouraged to attend. Participants can bring things to be tuned, such as bottles, pipes, lengths of wood and beaters such as spoons. Materials and tools will be on hand for those who need them. Phoenix and others will help attendees create and decorate easy-to-make musical instruments. Also invited are typical instruments (winds, strings, tunable drums), kazoos, slide whistles and electronic tuners.

"Prior to the establishment of International Pitch A435, instruments were tuned to local pitches, which often prevented playing them together," said Phoenix. A standard pitch allowed musicians to play in tune together, which was important in orchestras and when playing in other locales and countries. International Pitch was eventually changed to today’s standardized pitch, A440.

The event is a collaborative production of the Estey Organ Museum and a group of citizens who call themselves The University of Brattleboro. "We believe that creating fun events is our civic responsibility," said Rolf Parker-Houghton, founder of the group.

There is a $4.35 suggested donation; $14.35 for families of four or more.

Estey Organ Museum is located behind the slate-sided Estey buildings on Birge Street. Find out more about Estey Labs and the Estey Organ Museum at Find out more about the University of Brattleboro at

For more information, contact Ned Phoenix at 802-365-7011, Rolf Parker-Houghton at 802-505-7653, or e-mail