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La Scena Musicale - Vol. 17, No. 2 October 2011

Organ City, Organ Contest

by Crystal Chan / October 1, 2011

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The only international organ competition in the Americas

The Canadian International Organ Competition: this homegrown triannual event is still the only international organ competition in the Americas since it first started in 2008. This fall marks the second edition of the CIOC, and it has since gained an even bigger reputation for itself.

“I just came back from Germany, where I was sitting on the International Jury of the Bach-Liszt Competition in Weimar. All my colleagues of the jury spoke very highly of the Canadian International Organ Competition,” says CIOC Artistic Director John Grew, an internationally-respected organist and teacher. “I was happily surprised to hear very positive comments from the competitors about the CIOC. They wanted to know the dates and repertoire for 2014!”

In October 2011, 16 up-and-coming organists will compete for cash prizes totalling $72,000 CAD, as well as recitals and other prizes valued at $60,000. The top prize: $25,000 in cash, a $5,000 grant from the Dane and Polly Bales Foundation for a concert at the Bales Organ Recital Hall at the University of Kansas, CD recording and distribution under ATMA Classique label, three-year career management by Karen McFarlane Artists, and a three-year coaching and mentoring program including concert engagements, Web marketing, and workshops with specialists. On top of offering some of the biggest prizes of any organ competition in the world, recitals and coaching will now also be offered to multiple winners.

The 41 public events that form the 2011 CIOC include performances by competitors and guest artists (Frédéric Champion, Susan Landale, Jon Laukvik, Régis Rousseau) as well as a conference, master classes, introductions to the organ for neophytes and children, and even organ crawls. The closing gala at the Notre-Dame Basilica is not to be missed and will include the awarding of the audience prize.

Perhaps the biggest buzz surrounds the organs in the two new concert halls in CIOC’s home base, Montreal: the Maison symphonique in the Quartier des spectacles and the Bourgie Hall at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. The inaugural organ concert at the Bourgie will be played by CIOC’s 2008 winner Frédéric Champion as part of this year’s CIOC programme. These new organs have the potential to radically change organ performance in the city, since there were previously few organs outside churches (McGill’s Redpath Hall is the most prominent). “People will see and hear pipe organs in a different way,” says Noël Spinelli, chairman of the CIOC board of directors. “Our mission is to promote organ music and with these two new halls, we have an extraordinary opportunity through the competition to build our audience. Thousands more will be introduced to the organ repertoire.”

“We live in city often described as the cradle of the organ in North America,” Spinelli continues. “There are unique pipe organs in this city, thanks to some great organ builders. We need to let people know about this collection of instruments, here and everywhere, and discover the rich repertoire.”

October 5 – 16 ciocm.org

Franz Liszt & his “Weimar Sound”

by Martin Haselböck

Franz Liszt wrote his first organ piece in 1850, and his last one a few weeks before his death, in 1886. His 52 organ works are connected in many ways with “The Weimar Sound” (works written for orchestra between 1848 and 1860), and with his activities as a teacher of virtuoso pianists and organists during his tenure as Weimar Court Kapellmeister. The impact and importance of his writing on the symphonic organ styles of the late 19th and early 20th centuries cannot be considered highly enough: for example, the monothematic large-scale form of his “Ad nos” Fantasy can be seen as the direct ancestor of similar works by Franck and Vierne. In Germany, Max Reger would develop his own style based on the pianistic techniques and orchestral registrations introduced and developed by Liszt.

Liszt’s organ writing defies an analytical approach. The camouflaging of his own systems, the reduction of his thematic material to a minimum, the multitudinous appearances of tonal figures in similar but never identical forms—all these are not only characteristic of the stark, late avant-garde works, but also of his compositions written during his years in Weimar and Rome.

Masterclass: Franz Liszt:
Martin Haselböck in Concert
Oct. 8, 1:30 p.m.

Martin Haselböck is the editor of the first critical and complete edition of the Liszt Works for Organ (Nine Volumes and a Book “Liszt und die Orgel” Universal, 1986-1999). He has recorded the complete works twice (1986, Konzerthaus Vienna, ORFEO), (2005: Ladegast Organs Merseburg, Köthen, etc. NCA). Currently he is performing and recording the complete Orchestra works by Liszt using original instruments (Orchester Wiener Akademie, Raiding Festival, The Sound of Weimar, 8 CD’s, NCA)

Haselböck is on the 2011 CIOC jury. In a masterclass, he will talk about Liszt’s approach to the organ, his coloristic and technical ideas, the two romantic schools of performing Liszt, the connections to his orchestral writing, and the structure of several selected pieces.

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