Bach to Bach for St Andrews Organ Week

Sunday 30 July 2023
Laidlaw Music Centre
Laidlaw Music Centre

St Andrews Organ Week returns to the award-winning University of St Andrews Laidlaw Music Centre this weekend (Sunday 30 July to Friday 4 August) with amateur performers from around the world descending on St Andrews for the annual summer academy for amateur and young organists.

The annual summer academy has taken place every year in St Andrews since 1980 and is the only course of its kind in Scotland. St Andrews Organ Week welcomes more than 30 active participants plus observers from all over the globe to work with international faculty at the University.

As part of Organ Week, the Laidlaw Music Centre has taken delivery of a reconstructed 17th century Lucca chamber organ, kindly lent to the University by its makers Goetze and Gwynn.

“This is the only organ in the UK which allows organists to experience the sounds and touch of a traditional Italian organ,” comments Organ Week Artistic Director and Head of Programming at the Laidlaw Music Centre, Chris Bragg. “As a teaching tool, it’s invaluable, and in the magnificent acoustic of the McPherson Recital Room it sounds extraordinary.”

The Italian organ will be heard in two concerts by distinguished Italian musicians during Organ Week.

This year’s theme for Organ Week is ‘Bach and the Italians’, charting developments in Italian organ culture and music in the 16th and 17th centuries, how they influenced J.S. Bach and, in turn, how Bach’s music influenced the development of the Italian organ culture in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Professor Massimiliano Guido
Professor Massimiliano Guido

Professor Massimiliano Guido from the University of Pavia in Italy will perform a programme of music by the great 17th century composer and organist of St Peter’s in Rome, Girolamo Frescobaldi, and by J.S. Bach on Monday 31 July.  The concert will also feature the McPherson Recital Room’s historic 1868 T.C. Lewis organ and harpsichord.

On Wednesday 2 August, Giovanna Riboli, organist of the Badia Abbey and Church in Florence and Professor of Organ and Gregorian Chant in Salerno, will perform with University of St Andrews Music Centre Associate Teacher Ben Shute on baroque violin. Their programme will include music by Frescobaldi, Handel, Bach and the dramatic and varied sonatas of the 17th century Italian violin virtuosi Dario Castello and Giovanni Pandolfi Mealli.

Two further concerts will take place outside St Andrews. Honorary Professor of Organ, Henry Fairs, will perform at Dundee’s Caird Hall on Tuesday 1 August, in a concert co-promoted with Leisure and Culture Dundee.

Making his debut on the famous Harrison and Harrison concert organ, celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Henry will perform music by the great early 20th century Italian organist Marco Enrico Boss,i as well as music by Bach, Sigfrid Karg-Elert and Percy Whitlock. Tickets for this concert can be booked in advance on the website of Leisure and Culture Dundee.

Katelyn Emerson
Katelyn Emerson

Finally, on Thursday 3 August, Katelyn Emerson, one of the most in-demand American organists of her generation, will perform with violinist Ben Shute at Crail Parish Church.

The Harrison and Harrison ‘grand saloon’ organ in Crail was originally built for the Kirkcaldy home of linen-magnate John Blyth and was moved to Crail in 1936.

The programme will include Romanticised transcriptions by Marco Enrico Bossi of sonatas by Handel and Paisiello played in their original form by Shute and Giovanna Riboli during their concert the previous evening.

All four concerts begin at 7.30pm and tickets are available on the door.

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