Editorial : The Organ in a stimulating conversation between cultures

21e Festival international Toulouse les Orgues

Music knows no borders, and tends to make friends everywhere. Musicians are always quick to adopt a new or exotic instrument, melody or rhythm. Ravel and Spain or Debussy and Asia come to mind, but the whole history of music is steeped in sounds from elsewhere.

The organ, of course, has had its share of journeys. We think of it today as a massive, Christian and temepred instrument. But it first came to Europe from Byzantium. From here it was again exported and adapted. It become fantastically Baroque in Mexico, loud and shiny in US sports stadiums, built of bamboo in the Philippines.

This year, the Festival has chosen to give free rein to cross-cultural mingling and dialogue, as a friendlier echo of the events in the news. Thus the organ will encounter the Klezmer taragot and Turkish music, the Arabian oud and the electric guitar. It will feature musicians who suffered exile, such as John Bull, and composers fascinated by the East, such as Jehan Alain and Jean-Louis Florentz.

Just twenty years ago, Michel Bouvard and Jan Willem Jansen created this festival with the idea of setting the city’s magnificent organs at the heart of the musical life of Toulouse, and also much further afield. Today, with the Toulouse les Orgues team, we are pursuing a new objective: to broaden the listening public, open up the repertoire, combine different styles, and dare to experiment. To start many conversations, in fact, with every and any culture, so that the organ may continue on its beautiful journey for a long time to come.

Yves Rechsteiner,
directeur artistique du Festival international Toulouse les Orgues