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Westminster Cathedral is to host a ‘once-in-a-lifetime' concert featuring a remarkable nine organs, marking the start of a year of activity organised by the Royal College of Organists across the UK to promote the organ and its music.
The event on Wednesday 20 November at 7.30pm will be the UK premiere of La révolte des orgues by Jean Guillou, which features nine organs with percussion.
The international line up of organists comprises: Hansjörg Albrecht (Germany); Tom Bell (UK); Roberto Bonetto (Italy); Winfried Bönig (Germany); Bernhard Buttmann (Germany); Jürgen Geiger (Germany); Ourania Gassiou (Greece); Martin Kovarik (Switzerland) and Peter Stevens (UK). They will be joined by French percussionist Hélène Colombotti. The conductor is Johannes Skudlik from Germany.
As well as Guillou’s iconic piece for nine organs, the concert will include Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D minor (arranged specially for nine organs), Vivaldi’s Concerto in A minor for 4 harpsichords (arranged for five organs – four playing the harpsichord parts and one playing the orchestral part), and an improvisation.
The event is being organised by Westminster Cathedral in association with the Royal College of Organists and Viscount Classical Organs Ltd, who are supplying seven digital organs to complement the Cathedral’s two pipe organs. The aim is to raise funds in support of the music in the Cathedral and for a new outreach campaign by the Royal College of Organists.
Jean Guillou, who died in January 2019, made an immense contribution to the organ world. He was Titular Organist at Saint Eustache in Paris, and was known world-wide as a composer of instrumental and vocal music focused on the organ, as an improviser, and as an adviser to organ builders.
La révolte, composed in 2007, originates from Guillou’s conceptual design for an organ in the new concert hall in Tenerife (completed 2003). The composition came into being when he devised the distribution of the organ pipes among multiple cases arranged around the audience.