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In the second half of July 2012 leading figures from the international organ world gathered again in Haarlem, the Netherlands, for the 49th edition of the International Haarlem Organ Festival. It was here, in this wonderfully picturesque town very near Amsterdam, that the first Haarlem improvisation competition was held in 1951. Four years later, in 1955, the Summer Academy was launched, and the two events were held annually until 1986, and thereafter biennially.
The competition is unique in its focus on contemporary improvisation. In each round, after an hour's preparation with pencil and paper only, competitors offer a 10-minute concert improvisation. Eight participants from France, Poland, the USA and Holland were selected in the spring of 2012 by means of submitted recorded improvisations on short motifs by Louis Maillié (Lyon and Paris). Click here to read more.
The Haarlem Summer Academy 2012 offered an 11-day programme of masterclasses plus a 2-day symposium. In daily 2-hour sessions, capita selecta from more than four centuries of organ repertory were discussed in depth. Centre-stage in de academy is the Müller organ in St Bavo's (where the gallery fortunately accommodates up to 30!) But other important historical and modern instruments in the town are also used, all within walking distance. For a review, click here.
Click here for a review in Russian
Click here for a review in Chinese