The Summer is a popular time for conferences and special courses. Here’s a list of opportunities to study improvisation at the organ this summer. If you know of others, please email me or share them in the comments so that I can add them to the website.
This summer is also the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists. It will take place in Houston July 19-23. Typically there is an improvisation competition and several workshop presentations on improvisation during the convention. I only spotted one improvisation workshop: Adagio Lost and Adagio Regained: A Study of the Lost Art of Improvising in the Adagio Genre, with Emphasis on Handel’s Organ Concertos presented by HyeHyun Sung. The NCOI competition was restructured for this year with the preliminary round taking place last summer. (See my critique here.) No information about the competition is currently on the Houston website…
I am still considering offering a couple of days of improvisation instruction here. If you would be interested in coming to study with me at the Cathedral July 28-30, 2016, please let me know. Space for active participants will be limited. If there is sufficient interest, I’ll share more details soon.
Hoping you take some time this summer to improvise better,
André Marchal (1894-1980) was born blind. He studied organ under Eugène Gigout at the Paris Conservatoire. In 1913, he won the First Prize in organ-playing and four years later he also won the prix d’excellence for fugue and counterpoint. Marchal taught organ at the Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles in Paris, in addition to serving as titular organist of the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés (1915–1945) and Saint-Eustache (1945–1963). He was an unparalleled improviser and was recognized as such by Fauré. Among his students are many brilliant musicians such as Peter Hurford, Louis Thiry and Jean-Pierre Leguay.
There is now a Concours André Marchal held every other year in Biarritz, France offering prizes for interpretation and improvisation. Previous winners of the improvisation prizes include: David Cassan, David Maw, Noël Hazbroucq, Martin Bacot, Olivier Perin, Alexandre Mason, Torsten Laux, and Frederik Malmberg.
YouTube is a great place to visit in order to see and hear many different organists improvise. Some even have their own channels. Listed below are artists and other YouTube channels that include improvisation videos as a significant portion of their content.