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Organ Music Dancing on Air at This Summer’s International Festival in Monaco

They even managed against all odds, by creative effort in making their program a little shorter, to have a successful festival in 2020! So you can imagine what a success 2021 had in store. 

The International Organ Festival of Monaco flew relatively unconstrained this summer, dancing on air for its 16th edition, having no problem in also abiding by the Principality’s Health Protocols. It is a source of great artistic and musical encounters and always very much worth exploring. And it is free. 

If you are not an expert in the genre you probably imagine a Program entirely comprised of Classical music. You would be surprised – these gents and ladies also know how to “rock” and have a generous repertoire of folk music. And it’s great to be able to delve into the music flowing from different cultures – and if it’s the French and Russian culture that also interests you, there were treats to be experienced. Two hands or four hands, maestros display their talents in abundance – these are after all the stars of their genre with published albums a-plenty.

For this 16th edition, just to get a flavour of some of the program Monaco Cathedral transported us to the world of Russian music including Tchaikovsky for a four-handed concert by Yanka Hékimova and Leonid Karev – taking place on 1st August, for example. 

Yanka Hékimova, after her studies at the “Tchaikovsky” Conservatory in Moscow where she won first prize in Organ, Piano and Chamber music, perfected her skills in Paris with Jean Guillou, and has devoted herself to a career as a concert artist. As a master-class teacher, her “Young Audience” Concerts in Saint-Eustache, supported by the Hippocrene Foundation and the City of Paris, have allowed 12,000 children to discover the organ and classical music. She has recorded several CDs including the Complete Sonatas en Trio by J.S. Bach. Her fellow two handed organist, pianist and composer, Leonid Karev is a former disciple of the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow, his hometown, and of the National Superior Conservatory of Paris.

Film Concert – The Hunchback of Notre Dame 

And on the 8th August, there was a film concert with an improvisation by Karol Mossakowki on “Le Bossu de Notre-Dame”. (The Hunchback of Notre Dame). 

Awaiting the 17th Festival

Not only dedicated organ enthusiasts are now eagerly awaiting next year’s 17th Festival. In a very varied program there is entertainment for everyone. 

And if you were away from the Principality this summer and missed it – here are more flavours of who was on the program and what the festival had to offer. It all started on the 27th June and continued right up till mid-August and of course most often but not only on Sundays. 

Sunday June 27th – At the Monaco Cathédrale: Gunnar Idenstam “Metal Angel” starred. Gunnar Idenstam, organist, composer and folk musician, is known the world over for his virtuoso playing, his amazing improvisations and his original approach to organ music. Classically trained, he is fond of folk music and symphonic rock from the 1970s and uses these influences to link traditions of French cathedral music, symphonic rock and Swedish popular music.

The closing concert on August 15th played to packed pews and was orchestrated by the duo Olivier Vernet and Cédric Meckler paying tribute to French music. This was also an occasion for the celebration of the release of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice CD (“Apprentis Sorciers: L’Esprit symphonique français”,) recorded at the Cathedral of Monaco in January 2021.

Since its creation in 2006, the Duo Vernet-Meckler has recorded a dozen critically acclaimed albums (and regularly broadcast on the airwaves, in France and abroad. Olivier Vernet won the 1st organ prize at the CNSMD in Paris in 1990. He has recorded more than 110 CDs with a plethora of awards. Since 2006, he has commanded the great organ of the Cathedral of Monaco. He is a knight of the Order of Arts and Letters and of the Monegasque Order of Cultural Merit. His fellow organist Cédric Meckler has a Doctorate in Medicine and Neuroscience and has studied brain activity during musical practice. He also explores hypnosis, meditation and lucid dreaming in their applications for artistic aid, in particular preparation for the stage.

For detailed information on the rich and diversified program, see:

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