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La révolte des orgues

Wednesday 20th November 2019 (19:30 – 21:00)
Westminster Cathedral, London

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 cosmopolitan list of organists includes several who took part in the work’s world première in 2009: Martin Baker, Roberto Bonetto, Winfried Bönig, Bernard Buttmann and Jürgen Geiger; the other players include Hansjörg Albrecht, Ourania Gassiou and Peter Stevens. The percussionist is Hélène Colombotti and the conductor Johannes Skudlik.

The concert is being organised by the Cathedral in association with the Royal College of Organists and Viscount Classical Organs Ltd, which is 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.

The RCO campaign will comprise national and local events, including talks, workshops and performances designed to appeal to schools, colleges, music venues, churches and people of all ages to promote the organ as a musical instrument and improve access to those interested in learning to play. The campaign will include a National Organ Day planned for April 2020.  

Sir Andrew Parmley, Chief Executive of the Royal College of Organists, said: “I can’t think of a better way to begin a year of activities designed to raise interest in the organ as a wonderful musical instrument, inspiring to listen to and a thrill to play.

“This will be an amazing experience. Can you imagine the sound of nine organs in the wonderful acoustic of Westminster Cathedral?

“We want people of all ages and backgrounds to come and enjoy this remarkable spectacle, to look out for events in their local area throughout 2020, and hopefully be inspired to play the organ.”

Westminster Cathedral’s Master of Music Martin Baker, who will be joined by organists from across Europe for the performance, said: “The complex logistics and performance skills associated with this work mean that performances are rare, so this can very much be considered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

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.

The concert will also feature popular organ works by Bach, Vivaldi and others, and an improvisation.

Tickets are available from Ticketmaster at - search on Westminster Cathedral.

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