World Organ Day – 850 concerts on 5 continents

May 6th 2013 is World Organ Day with 850 concerts spanning the globe, led by the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris in an event marking the 850th anniversary of this historic Parisian landmark. 

The famous organ at the imposing Albi Cathedral near Toulouse (Credit Wikipedia)

In 2013, the event covers 5 continents, with more than 850 concerts playing the widest selection of works in the majestic organ repertory.

The concerts are concentrated over a twenty-four hour period but in some regions of France there are associated organ concerts running through to May 9.  A full list of the concerts is found on this link which offers a search engine for every region in the country.

The French website  Orgue en France notes that organists, professionals, amateurs and students, organ builders, and organ associations, have come together to promote France’s impressive organ heritage.

The video below shows a master organ builder plying his craft:


France offers a wealth of events, concerts, places to visit and workshops for anyone interested in the development of the great organs of the country and the music written for them.

Each Autumn south-west France reverberates to the great sounds of this instrument heard during the regional organ festival Toulouse les Orgues:
“Toulouse : City of the Organ – Toulouse is bestowed with one of the most resplendent collection of organs in Europe.
This unique and historical heritage attracts organists and other musicians from around the world. Toulouse’s collection is exceptional on several levels. It includes many differing periods of contrasting instruments, a leading example being the grand Cavaillé-Coll of Saint-Sernin. The city’s church organs benefited from an extensive restoration programme initiated by Xavier Darasse in the 1970s. In the same period, instruments of high quality were built to complete the collection, notably the organ of the Musée des Augustins, built in 1982 by German organ builder Jürgend Ahrend.  Music from all parts of the repertoire is played in Toulouse; Frescobaldi and the 17th century Italians at the Chapelle Sainte-Anne, Bach and the northern baroque in the Église-musée des Augustins, Couperin and the French baroque and classical at the Église Saint-Pierre des Chartreux, and of course the great symphonic organ repertoire at Saint Sernin.
Organs in the Midi-Pyrénées region
The Midi-Pyrénées region is rich in extraordinary instruments. Native soil to the organ-builder dynasties Cavaillé-Coll and Puget, of whom numerous instruments have been conserved and restored, around sixty organs are on a  government list of protected  ‘monuments historiques’. Those of Cintegabelle and the cathedral of Auch are already widely celebrated, but there are also countless hidden gems waiting to be discovered…”

Story: Ken Pottinger



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