2014 Festival

Editorial : Organs in the city

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© Thomas Guillin

19th International Festival Toulouse les Orgues
Toulouse, the home of the organ! The number and quality of well-preserved instruments in the city and its region are a reminder of the importance organs used to have in society until quite recently. Organs were of course a feature of many church services, when the community gathered for a moment of religious devotion as well as social togetherness, but this was not their only use. Until not so long ago, organs could be found in bourgeois drawing rooms, concert halls, cinemas, and even some Town Halls. In the United States they could even be found in sports stadiums and department stores!

This 19th edition of Toulouse les Orgues focuses on this history, when entire communities still came together in one place, without any distinction of class, age, wealth or culture, and the music was provided by an organ.

In a whimsical reference to the recent municipal elections, this year’s festivities open with cantatas written by Bach for the inauguration of the new City Council of Leipzig.
On the following day, as a vibrant homage to the vast assemblies of musicians of which the 19th Century was so fond, 100 choristers will perform a Requiem by Fauré in Saint Sernin, especially accompanied on this occasion by both of the basilica’s organs.
The concert alternating between Pyrenean Polyphonies and the organ will offer a voyage into the heart of our regional musical roots, while the accordionist Marc Perrone and the organist Roberto Antonello will together weave a dialogue around the best-loved themes of popular Italian song.

Among the performers I have invited we have exceptional organists such as Bernhard Haas and Jean Guillou. They will be playing the great works of the repertoire, from Bach to Jehan Alain, including the first performance of the first composition for organ by Hugues Dufour, one of the fathers of spectral music. The gifted improvisers Wolfgang Seifen and Rudolf Lutz will be showing their talent in a cinema-concert and also during a more traditional concert, in which the public will be invited to identify some great film theme tunes.

“Organs in the city” includes all that: it is meant to be a reminder of the unique position of the organ in spiritual affairs and to affirm its cultural function through its links with the orchestra, the cinema and the circus. We also hope to carry the organs and its enthusiasts away to other musical horizons, which the Festival will be doing with electronic music created by the Saåad Duo, or music originally written by the guitarist and composer, Frank Zappa.

In short, as I hope you can see, we want to bring the organs of Toulouse to the widest possible audience. Between the “Organ Workshop” mini-concerts and the “What’s in the Loft?” concert-visits, audiences will have an opportunity to pierce the mystery of counterpoint and find out what lies at the top of those stairs, while (re)discovering “their” organs.

Yves Rechsteiner,
directeur artistique du Festival international Toulouse les Orgues

Discover 2014 program