From the 8th to 12th. May 2015 ORGANpromotion organised for the sixteenth consecutive time since 1999 its Easter Organ Study trip to Paris. In the French metropolis, described aptly by trip organiser Michael Grüber as „Capital city of organ music“, participants were offered an extensive programme of numerous recitals, organ viewings, interpretation courses and lectures. This year the special emphasis was on the organ works of the composer César Franck, whose 125th anniversary of his death falls this year of Jehan Alaint, 75th anniversary it ist. For this reason the tour was organised in cooperation with the International César Franck society, whose chairmen Dr. Christiane Strucken-Paland and Dr. Ralph Paland brought Franck's life and works to vivid recall in several lectures with introductions into the organ milieu of Paris .
The ceremonial opening of the five-day event took place in the Institut Nationale des Jeunes Aveugles (INJA) – that school for the blind with such a rich tradition in which César Franck taught organ and from which such important organists as Louis Vierne, Jean Langlais and Gaston Litaize emerged. The musical programme for the opening contained works by Franck and the 8th Symphony of Charles-Marie Widor. In impressive style Dominique Levacque, the titular organist of the Institute, played these compositions on its instrument – a Cavaillé-Coll Organ from the year 1885, reconditioned in 1960 by Organ Workshop Gonzales.
In 5 days we visited 14 churches and organs. Apart from the experience of the sometimes centuries-old instruments, the participants of the trip were repeatedly intrigued by the meetings with the Paris organists, with their differing artistic ideas and temperaments. They were astounded by the young Noël Hazebroucq, who in his recital in the Église reformée des Batignolles switched several times with ease between organ and piano, and were equally impressed with his virtuoso improvisational skills and surprise inclusion of a ballad which he composed and sang himself!. Interesting perspectives were opened to us in the Interpretation Course by Baptiste-Florian Marle-Ouvrard, who modelled himself on the organ music of Franck and Alaint, while Kurt Lueders, the renowned specialist on the music and organ construction in the 19th .century opened up the world of romantoc harmonium music in the Temple des Saint Esprit. Unforgettable meetings followed with Daniel Roth in Saint Sulpice, Christophe Mantoux, Frédéric Blanc, Vincent Rigot, Carolyn Shuster-Fournier, Jean-Pierre Armengaud, David Noel-Hudson, Eric Lebrun, Bruno Mathieu and Christian Ott.
It goes without saying that we paid a visit to the console of the organ of Notre Dame Cathedral, where the official organist Olivier Latry showed us his artistry in Sunday Mass– a worthier climax to this multi-facetted organ trip could hardly be imagined.
Dr. Ralph Paland, Köln