CIOC Festival

The Canadian International Organ Competition (CIOC) presents the program of its annual Festival, from October 7 to 30, 2018, with a flurry of activities involving the king of instruments, around the theme “History and Modernity.” “The organ is one of the oldest instruments with more than 2,000 years of history, but it is also an instrument of the future,” states Jean-Willy Kunz, Artistic Director of the CIOC.

Some 15 events will make up the CIOC program, including a musical for fans of history, music, and photography (Organ Trip, October 20, 10 am), a concert featuring three young virtuosos under 30 (Gala Concert, October 19, 7:30 pm, Notre-Dame Basilica), a feminist-themed series at Saint Joseph’s Oratory (every Sunday in October at 3:30 pm), inauguration of the newly restored Immaculée-Conception organ (Post-Festival Concert, November 16, 7:30 pm), and numerous concerts by world-renowned organists.

All performances will be projected on a large screen in front of each church.

Sundays at Saint Joseph’s Oratory and the Grand Séminaire

The Festival kicks off on Sunday, October 7, with two free concerts at the Grand Séminaire de Montréal at 3pm and at Saint Joseph’s Oratory at 3:30 pm. Both series will continue every Sunday in October.

The Grand Séminaire will feature organists Pascale Rouet (France, October 7), Julie Pinsonneault (October 14), Josée April (October 21), and Yves-G. Préfontaine (October 28).

Saint Joseph’s Oratory will showcase women organists, in a discipline still mostly dominated by men. Featured artists include Jennifer McPherson (United States, October 7), Eunsung Kim (South Korea, October 14), Edith Beaulieu (Quebec, October 21), and Alexandra Fol (Bulgaria, October 28). The work of a female composer chosen by each performer will form an essential part of the program.

GRAND ORGAN Week, OCTOBER 19, 20, 21 and 29

Gala Concert, Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal
October 19, 8 pm
Alcée Chriss, Thomas Gaynor, & Joshua Stafford, organ
Exactly one year after winning first prize at the 2017 CIOC, Alcée Chriss, returns to perform on Basilica Notre-Dame’s Casavant organ. The artist will be accompanied by two other international competition winners: Joshua Stafford (United States; 2017 Longwood Gardens Competition) and Thomas Gaynor (New Zealand; 2016 St. Albans Competition). All three are under 30 and will provide Montreal audiences with a glimpse of the organ’s exhilarating future.
The Gala Concert will also be the occasion to launch Alcée Chriss’s first recording, awarded by the CIOC and ATMA Classique to the 2017 CIOC first-prize winner.

Mad about the Organ (October 20, 10 am, departure from St-James United Church)
All aboard music, history… and photography buffs! The CIOC is offering an organ crawl with three stops: departure from St-James United Church, celebrating its organ’s 127th birthday; onward to the Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul, housing Canada’s largest organ; and final arrival at Juget-Sinclair Organbuilders. At each stop, a guide will illustrate the historical, architectural, and musical splendour of the organs and provide full access to these majestic instruments. As organs are incredibly photogenic, Kodak moments will abound: photos will not only be not prohibited, they’ll be encouraged!

Flash Concert (October 20, 3 pm, Church of St. Andrew and St. Paul)
Christian Lane, organ
The day will continue with a 1-hour flash concert by Christian Lane, winner of the 2011 Canadian International Organ Competition. Lane, who brings “panache, vitality, and joy” according to Organ Canada, will demonstrate the intensity, grandeur, and brilliance of the great works of the organ repertoire.

The Making of a Pipe Dream (October 21, 10 am, Schulich School of Music)
Stacey Tenenbaum, director of the documentary Pipe Dreams
Director Stacey Tenenbaum got exclusive behind-the-scenes access to the 2017 CIOC Competition for her documentary Pipe Dreams. She will share her experience filming organists around the world and give the public a sneak peek of Pipe Dreams.

Grand Choir Dialogue (October 29, 8 pm, Église du Très-Saint-Nom-de-Jésus)
Musica Orbium, Patrick Wedd conductor
Nicholas Capozzoli & Philip Crozier, organ
To conclude this music-filled day in epic fashion, the Musica Orbium choir and organists Nicholas Capozzoli and Philip Crozier will present the concert Choral Dialogue, in which they will interpret the famous and monumental Mass for Choir and Two Organs by French composer Louis Vierne and pieces by Duruflé and Hubert Parry.


Couperin Days (October 21, 5 pm, Bourgie Hall) presented by Arte Musica
Jean-Willy Kunz, organ
“Couperin the Great” was first an organist, and his first published work consists of two organ masses which had considerable influence on Bach. Jean-Willy Kunz will interpret these masses as part of the “Couperin Days” presented by Arte Musica, celebrating the 350th anniversary of the birth of François Couperin.

“Symphony of Horrors”, October 30, 8 pm, Maison Symphonique) presented by the OSM
Thierry Escaich, organ
Nosferatu the Vampyre – or Dracula, based on Bram Stoker’s eponymous novel – was brought to the screen in 1922 by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau. The silent film and masterpiece of German Expressionism will be screened and accompanied by Thierry Escaich on the Grand Orgue Pierre-Béique. Thrills, chills, and suspense for all!

Inauguration of the Immaculée-Conception organ
November 16, 7:30 pm
Built in 1961, the Immaculée-Conception organ was a major turning point in the development of organ making in North America. Sixty years later, a makeover was needed to preserve it for future generations. Resident organist Réal Gauthier and organists Vincent Boucher and Yves G. Préfontaine will enthrall us with the organ’s rich tones in a concert celebrating its restoration by Juget-Sinclair Organbuilders.
Concert presented by the Immaculée-Conception church, in collaboration with St. Joseph’s Oratory

Canadian International Organ Competition
The Canadian International Organ Competition, founded by organist John Grew and now directed by Jean-Willy Kunz, is a cornerstone of organ music celebrating the king of musical instruments at an annual festival, a series of Canada-wide concerts, and a triennial competition, currently set for 2020.