Karel Martínek, the dramaturg of the festival and the leading domestic organist, who is also the titular organist of the cathedral, sat down as the first performer at the organ in the main chancel of the cathedral. He was accompanied on drums by Ladislav Bilan and Ladislav Bilan the Younger. The show will offer a total of five organ concerts until September 15. The local instrument from 1886 from the workshop of the Riegr brothers will be played by organists from Poland, the Netherlands and Sweden.
The Olomouc Festival of Organ Music this year commemorates the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Belgian-French composer César Franck, whose work will be interspersed in all the concerts. The organist Karel Martínek decided to include the compositions of this year’s jubilant at the beginning of his performance at today’s concert. Together with father and son Bilan, they then played the spectacular Bolero adapted by Pierre Cochereau. At the end, there was the world premiere of an improvised mass, the author of which is the soloist of the concert himself. The opening concert also sold the most tickets from the planned concerts of the festival so far, Klára Mars, spokeswoman for the organizer of the Moravian Philharmonic, told ČTK today.
The concerts will traditionally take place every Monday and Thursday. On September 5, the organizers have planned a concert by the Polish-French organist Karol Mossakowski, who is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards. Three days later, Olomouc will welcome the Czech-German organist and laureate of many organ competitions Markéta Schley Reindlová.
The audience is also promised an unusual experience by the concert called Severské inspirations, scheduled for September 12. The cathedral will be resounded by Nordic music performed by the Swedish organist, composer and folk musician Gunnar Idenstam, who is known worldwide not only for his virtuoso playing and improvisations, but also for his unconventional conception of organ music.
“He will bring to Olomouc a program composed of works by Baroque composers from Italy, France and Sweden, in his own arrangement,” said the organizers. “Only compositions by Johann Sebastian Bach will be heard in their original form at the concert. Idenstam’s favorite Swedish folk music will also be included in the dramaturgy of the evening. The highlight of the performance will be the performance of his author’s cycle of improvisations for troubled times,” they added.
The show then culminates with the final concert on September 15, performed by the Dutch organist Ben van Oosten, who ranks among world musicians. He was also awarded the French Legion of Honor for the results of his work. His final concert is entitled Organ as an Orchestra – pearls of organ symphony.
The International Organ Festival has a long tradition in Olomouc, this year is the 54th year. The original venue of the festival was in St. Moritz Cathedral, where the extensive reconstruction of Engler’s organ was still not finished. It is already coming to an end, so according to the festival’s dramaturgist, the next organ festival should again take place in the church of St. Morice.