Seminar since 1986
“I have been to two of these tours to Paris, and I can assure you that they are a fantastic way to discover major organs and organists in Europe. I assume that many of you know some (or all of these instruments/organists), but for all the others, FOMS is a great opportunity!
If you have not yet made other plans for the summer, I would like to encourage you to strongly consider these wonderful tours...”
…Jens Korndoerfer, Concert Organist
“It has been a few years since I participated but it's an excellent program, one of the very best of it's kind and I recommend it highly. The faculty is first rate and the organs are just magnificent. London and the UK, Paris and then the Alps and Burgundy this year, wow! Unforgettable, Go!”
…Carl Schwartz, Organist, Baltimore, Maryland
“I want to thank you again for your making such an educational and inspiring trip possible. You opened many doors for all of us that we could not have opened ourselves. It was a special privilege to be with Bernadette, Yves, Daniel Roth, Philippe Lefebvre, Marie Langlais, and Naji Hakim. They are all such wonderful musicians and people. What an education to get a glimpse of them first hand!”
…Wilma Jensen, Concert Organist
“The seminar admirably fulfilled its purpose as an introduction to the organ culture of France, particularly of the 19th and 20th centuries, under the guidance of outstanding performers and teachers. Particularly rewarding was the opportunity to associate place, instrument, composer and repertoire. The generosity and enthusiasm of the lecturers and host organists who shared their instruments and their expertise contributed significantly to the success of the seminar.”
…Dale Peters, Professor of Organ, University of North Texas
“My own playing of Guilmant on French organs was one which all would relish who had ever learnt French organ music without having been able to play it on an authentic instrument. I was invited to join American organ enthusiasts from Washington to Texas for the seminar involving most of the leading Parisian organs and organists. One can imagine the unique thrill it is to be able to feel the music on the real thing, under the guidance of the successors to the tradition.”
…Malcolm Rudland, Organ Critic, The Musical Times
“In addition to the obvious benefits of hearing and playing Parisian organs, the members of this tour had other less frequently encountered benefits: the chance to meet the organists, hear them play their own instruments, often with music written for those organs, and meet them socially – there were no less than eight meals with French organists…No matter the technical level or background of participants, there was value for all in this well-
…Arthur Lawrence, The American Organist
“There was really something special about this trip. I don’t know if it was the pace of the European life style, the camaraderie among our group, the incredible hospitality of our hosts and hostesses, the fact that we all shared a similar interest, or perhaps all of the above – but it was a significant lifetime experience for me. I made many new friends and I now have a renewed enthusiasm for making music on the organ.”
…Don Auberger, Finance Director for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
“I wish to express my most sincere gratitude for making the French Organ Music Seminar a reality. You made my first trip to Paris a cherished memory. The considerable activities you planned were all insightful and enjoyable. Thank you for making such a rich experience possible.”
…Wayne Peterson, Organist, Fort Wayne, Indiana
“Thank you for a wonderful nine days in Paris. Hearing and playing the Parisian organs is something I have wanted to do since college. The experience was everything I had hoped it would be and more. I appreciate your fairness with time on the various organs.”
…John Deaver, Organist, Cincinnati, Ohio
“I want to thank you for your efforts in organizing the tour. For me it was the musical event of a lifetime and I hope to go again in the future. After the restoration of the interior of Saint-
…Michael Hughes, Recording Engineer, Trenton, Ohio
“I just want to tell you firsthand what an incredible experience this trip is for students. I had the opportunity to go to FOMS after my freshman year. While there I couldn’t believe that we had access to nearly all of the famous organists in the city of Paris, let alone those famous churches. The coaching sessions were extremely beneficial for me, and I learned so much from them. Now when I practice I don’t have to wonder as much ow a piece was meant to sound, how to register it, or what the acoustics of the room it was written for. This trip really was an experience of a lifetime. Thank you so much to everyone who helped make the trip possible for me, and I strongly encourage everyone to let this experience be available to other students in the future.”
…Josh Melson, Organ Student, Centenary Colllege, Shreveport, Louisiana
“My mind boggles at trying to figure out how you put all of that seminar together and caused it to work as well as it did. So I just want to say thanks for a memorable time and for your kindness and consideration. After 42 years it was more of a pilgrimage for me and in the process I had an extra bonus meeting so many wonderful people.”
…Gerald Phillips, Organist, Fitchburg, Massachusetts
“The French Organ Seminar was a marvelous experience for me, and far exceeded my expectations. I am already looking forward to going another year. I know it is difficult to coordinate all of those French organists, and I really appreciate all the work you did to put everything together.”
…David Erwin, Organist, St. Louis, Missouri
“As I have thought about the many unique opportunities you made possible for the French Organ Music Seminar I have concluded that the whole experience proved to be a blessing in my life. I have heard the French organ sounds, performed on some significant organs, and enjoyed the artistic architectural beauty of Paris.”
…Diane Monson, Organist, New York, N. Y.
“I enjoyed meeting everyone and thought the trip was marvelous. I would really like to go again.”
…Roger Vine, Organist, San Francisco, California
“Thanks for the French Organ Music Seminar. I really had an enjoyable time. Getting to hear and play so many of the Paris organs was a thrill.”
… Darrell Fluehr, Organist, Linicoln, Nebraska
Eric Johnson, Organist, Director of Music, and National Dance Educator, Seattle, Washington
Masako and Christina,
I have wanted to write a very much heartfelt "thank you" to you both for the wonderful, wonderful experience of Paris FOMS this last summer. I know you both work really hard to make it happen, and I want you to realize what a special and important experience it is to me. Thank you both for making everything so incredible.
Among the memories of this trip that I will always treasure:
Really, this last little anecdote typifies what makes FOMS so amazing. Many years of cultivating these rich relationships with such important organists have made it possible for each of us to have these amazing, precious, unduplicable experiences of the organs, the churches, the organists, the history, and the organ culture. FOMS has made it possible for us to participate in French organ culture in a way that, really, only the French are able to.
I can't thank you enough for making the experience of FOMS available to me and to all of us. The times I have spent in Paris experiencing all the marvels you put together are among the most special I have had in my life.
Organist, Director of Music, and National Dance Educator, Seattle, Washington
Review: 2013 FOMS in Paris -
The ninth British Organ Music Seminar was held for four days in London, beginning on July 25th. The seminar began with a train ride to Cambridge to visit the chapel of Emmanuel College, with its three manual 1988 Kenneth Jones tracker instrument, which used the case and some of the pipework of the original Father Smith instrument of 1688. Colin Walsh, the Organist Laureate of Lincoln Cathedral and a visiting organ teacher at the University of Cambridge was our host. He conducted a workshop on liturgical improvisation with several reluctant volunteers followed by a session of various British organ works, performed by members of the group.
The second day of the seminar we visited the French Church of Notre Dame de France, where we attended classes all day. The church, which serves a large French population in London, is located near Leicester Square and dates back to 1861. The organ was originally built by August Gem, who had worked with Cavaillé-
On the third day of the seminar we traveled to Peterborough Cathedral to play one of the finest William Hill organs in the country. Built in 1894, Hill, one of the two most celebrated organ builders of the nineteenth century, incorporated earlier pipework in his four-
Its last restoration took place after a fire in 2001. Like other Hill instruments of this period, the organ is set considerably sharper than modern concert pitch. David Humphreys, the Assistant Director of Music of the cathedral, gave a brilliant demonstration, after which participants had ample playing time on the instrument. In the afternoon, we traveled to Cambridge for some free time, shopping in the local music store and having afternoon tea. In the evening we attended Evensong at Ely Cathedral, followed by a demonstration of the organ by Assistant Organist, Jonathan Lilley. The organ was first built in 1685 by Renatus Harris. Elliot and Hill installed a new organ with existing pipework in 1831, with William Hill doing restoration work in 1850. In 1908, Harrison & Harrison built a mostly new organ, using pipework from the previous instruments, with a restoration in 1974-
The final day of the seminar was Sunday, so participants attended services at various churches, including St. Paul's Cathedral. In the afternoon we visited All Soul's Langham Place, which is a familiar landmark at the end of Regent Street. In 1913, Alfred Hunter installed a new instrument in this church, replacing the original organ built by Bishop in 1824. This Hunter instrument was rebuilt and enlarged by Henry Willis III in 1951, with the most recent restoration by Harrison & Harrison in 1976. Gerard Brooks conducted a master class of various works, played by the members of our group. Later in the afternoon, participants had a choice of recitals to attend at St. Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey or Westminster Cathedral. The seminar ended with a visit to Westminster Roman Cathedral, just down the street from the Abbey. It contains the Apse Organ built by T. C. Lewis prior to World War I and the Grand Organ, which is one of the two heroic instruments built by Henry Willis III, the other being the Liverpool Anglican Cathedral. Peter Stevens, the Assistant Master of Music, talked about the history of the instrument and gave a fine demonstration of the organ and assisted participants as they played this magnificent instrument, which made a spectacular end to an eventful seminar.
Church of the Holy Comforter
July 29–August 7, 2013
“If you listen you will learn.”
—Thomas LaCôte, La Trinité, Paris
Organ builder Aristide Cavaillé-
When Widor sat at the Cavaillé-
Thanks and appreciation are due to the well-
Participants varied from virtuosos with ever-
How fortunate for this group that there are still essentially unaltered romantic organs in existence that we are able to touch and play. The first on this trip was the Cavaillé-
July 29–30: Lyon and Chambéry
The perfect warm-
Time spent with François Espinasse and Thibaut Duret and two concerts on the marvelous 1847 Augustin Zeiger organ at Chambéry Cathedral allowed each of us a performance turn, followed by a third inspiring performance by our regional host Thibaut Duret. Duret is a brilliant young organist and improviser who studied with François Henry Houbart at Rueil Malmaison and with Francois Espinasse and Loïc Mallié at the Lyon Conservatoire, where he received a master’s degree in organ. With the Alps as backdrop, we spent Wednesday and Thursday playing the organs in St. Pierre d’Albigny, Manigod, Grand Bornand, Thônes, and Annecy. Each organ had a particular charm, and more information is available about each of them on the FOMS website (www.bfoms.com).
August 2: Dole and Dijon
On Thursday, after a 2½-
August 3: Reims
By Saturday, August 3, we were in Reims, where we played the Cathédral Notre-
August 4–7: Paris
In Paris we visited the always-
Daniel Roth entertained and enlightened us at St-
It still takes my breath away to sit in the loft with Olivier Latry at Notre Dame during Mass. His playing for four Sunday services allowed all 29 organists and students a chance to be at the organ, complete with a console containing the latest organ technology and design.
Classes and playing time were offered by Thomas LaCôte at La Trinité (the organ of Messiaen), Ste-
Our last day was spent with Jean-
As a protégé of Marie-
LaCôte told us Messiaen liked the sound of ice and crystal, 16′ & 2′ (Messe de la Pentecôte).
Choplin said Dupré loved the sound of the gambe alone because it was mysterious.
To be in France and therefore in the center of the vital and enduring influence of the world's greatest organ tradition is as fascinating and transforming as ever. The spirits of Widor, Vierne, Messiaen, et. al. continue to permeate the sensibilities and ethos of this beautiful part of the world through the brilliant French artists of the present. There is no more amazing experience, or better pilgrimage, for an organist.
Teach us to listen, and learn…..
Helen VanAbbema Rodgers
Director of Music
St. James Episcopal Church