Review of the "Organfestival Holland 2013"

21 - 29 June 2013

The review  of the "Organfestival Holland 2013" can be downloaded here below (pdf-file), to be read or printed.

Report of the "Orgelfestival Holland 2011"

17 - 26 June 2011

The report with several enclosures of the "Orgelfestival Holland 2011" can be downloaded here below (pdf-file), to be read or printed.

Report of the "Orgelfestival Holland 2009"

19 - 28 June 2009

The report with several enclosures of the "Orgelfestival Holland 2009" can be downloaded here below (pdf-file), to be read or printed.

Report of the Orgelfestival Holland 2007

22 - 30 juni 2007

The report of the "Orgelfestival Holland 2007" can be downloaded here below     (pdf-file),

Report of the Orgel Festival Holland 2005

Organ Festival Holland took place for the 8th time between the 17th and the 25th of May 2005, in the Grote of St Laurenskerk in Alkmaar. The festival consisted of  an international competition, an organ academy and various concerts.

1 Competition

The competition took place for the 6th time and attracted applications from 48 young organists. From the pre-selection, 12 organists were chosen to take part, although 1 could not be present. The competition began on June 14th. The 3 sessions of the the first round were attended by between 30 and 60 people. The international jury consisted of the following leading figures from the organ-world:
Hans Fagius (Sweden), Bernard Foccroulle (Belgium), Kay Johannsen (Germany), Keï Koïto (Japan/Switzerland)  and Jan Raas (The Netherlands). The repertoire for the first round consisted of a choice of 1 of the following
 “Orgelbüchlein” Chorale Preludes of J.S. Bach: Der Tag der ist so freudenreich (BWV 605), Das alte Jahr vergangen ist (BWV 614) or Wenn wir in höchsten Nöthen sein (BWV 641), together with the 6th Trio Sonata in G (BWV 530), and Buxtehude’s  Preludium in g  (BuxWV 149). The works were performed on the Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ (1645/1725).
From the 11 players who competed, 6 were chosen to proceed to the following round.

The second round took place on June 21st, and was attended by around 70 people. Only the Van  Covelens organ (1511) was used. The repertoire was as follows:
Erbarm dich mein, O Herre Gott by J.P. Sweelinck, a Fantasia of choice by A. van Noordt. and the specially commissioned  work Spiegel by the Belgian jury member, Bernard Foccroulle. At around 11pm the announcement was made that the final would be contested by the following organists:
Lubbert Gnodde, (The Netherlands),  Christian Ahlskog and Riikka Viljakainen, (both Finland).

The final took place on Friday June 24th. The van Covelens organ was used for the candidates’ own intabulation of La déploration de Johannes Ockeghem by Josquin des Prez. while the Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ was used for Bach’s Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele (BWV 654), the candidates’ choice of either the Concerto in d (BWV 596) or the Concerto in a (BWV 593), and the Toccata Settima by G. Muffat. There were around 100 in the audience. The first prize (Rabobank Alkmaar-prijs) of € 5.000,-  was awarded ‘cum laude’ to Lubbert Gnodde., who was awarded the highest marks in all 3 rounds. The second prize, (Flentrop prize) of € 2.500,-  was awarded to Riikka Viljakainen while Christian Ahlskog won the third (Van Hagerbeer) prize of € 1.000,-. Lubbert Gnodde received in addition the audience prize, named after the late Izaak Kingma who was highly instrumental in the organisation of previous festivals. Each candidate received a personal report over his or her playing from each round from each jury member.


On Saturday 18th June the traditional organ-crawl in Alkmaar town centre took place, and was attended by a group of around 50 people. Frank van Wijk acted as guide and organ-demonstrator. Each participant received a programme including all music to be played, all registrations and histories of each instrument. Van Wijk played first on the Van Covelens organ (1511) of the Grote Kerk. He performed music by Jan van Lublin, Gerhardus Scronx, and Jan Pietersz. Sweelinck.
The seconde church visited was the Lutheran Church which contains a small organ of 1755 probably by a member of the Müller family. Here van Wijk performed music by Christian Ritter en Johann Pachelbel.  The Müller organ in the Kapelkerk was built in 1762 and recently restored. Finally the group visited the small Strumphler organ in the Remonstranse Kerk from 1792.
The Kapelkerk with the Müller-organ from 1762 could be visited again after the recent restoration.

The event was covered by the Alkmaarsche Courant.

On Saturday 18th June the festival was officially opened with a concert by Concerto d’Amsterdam, directed  by Pieter-Jelle de Boer (winner of the 2003 organ competition) with Patrick van Goethem (countertenor) and Pieter van Dijk playing the Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ. The programme consisted of:
 the Suite I  (BWV 1066), the Concerto in G  (BWV 571) and the Preludium en Fuga in c (BWV 546) by J.S. Bach and the Concerto Grosso in d Opus 3/11 (RV 565) by A. Vivaldi. The highlight of the evening was the performance of Bach’s Cantata Geist und Seele wird verwirret (BWV 35) for orchestra, countertenor and the large organ. In his pre-concert talk, Jan Raas explained that in Bach’s time the now common use of a ‘chest’ or ‘continuo’ organ was unknown; the large organ was used as the continuo instrument with the other performers on the gallery. In Alkmaar, contact between organist and orchestra was maintained through use of headphones and CCTV. The festival was officially opened by the member of the  Alkmaar Town Council,  S. Binnendijk.

On Monday June 20th, c40 people gathered to hear the concert by the Japanese organist, Keï Koïto and  Belgian organist Bernard Foccroulle. Koïto played on theVan Covelens-organ, works by Ivo de Vente and by Eric Gaudibert; Jetée/Jetty (Work in progress I) .  Koito also performed futher ‘Works in Progress’ by Gaudibert on the van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ together with works by Bach and Buxtehude. Foccroulle began on the Van Covelens-orgel with 4 versets by H. Scheidemann and performed works by Bach, Buxtehude, and his own Toccata on the large organ.

On Wednesday 22nd June, an audience of around 60 attended the concert by the German organist, Kay Johanssen, and the Swede, Hans Fagius. Johanssen performed a free improvisation on the choir-organ and works by J.S. Bach on the large organ. Fagius, performing on the van Hagerbeer/Schntiger organ, played works by  J.A. Reinken, J.N. Hanff and J.S. Bach, together with the first performance of a new work by Staffan Storm.

On Thursday June 23rd, the academy participants spent the day in Purmerend, where Jan Jongepier performed an evening concert on the historic Garrels organ. In the Grote St. Laurenskerk, an intercultural concert took place performed by the Turkish
ensemble Tombaz together with organist Jan Raas. The mixture of Western and Eastern music attracted only around 60 people, and only a handful of Turks.

The Cheese market concerts on Friday on June 24th were played by Jan Raas. Together with Spanish anon music, and works by Bach and Karg-Elert, Raas premiered his own piece, ‘Tango for Mineke’, dedicated to his wife.

The festival finished on Saturday June 25th with a concert by the academy participants, and by the first prize winner of the competition, Lubbert Gnodde. Some 60 people heard music by van Noordt, Sweelinck and Bach.

The Sunday Vespers Service in the Grote Kerk was attended by only a small group of people, probably due to the very hot weather. The Rev Harry Donga preached about the the role of music in the bible, with special reference to Daniel’s text about the three believers thrown in the fire. Pieter van Dijk contributed works of Scheidemann on the Van Covelens organ. After the service committee members, partners, jury members, and competition and academy participants enjoyed the traditional tour of the Alkmaar canals. In the evening the festival dinner took place in the restaurant ‘Zonneveld’. The oldest academy participant, enjoying his sixth visit, Peter Noble, offered a vote of thanks to the organisation committee. This was translated into Dutch by the Austrian competition participant David Boos.

Running parallel to the organ competition was the organ academy; an educative seminar for professional organists, students and advanced amateurs. The set repertoire was as follows:
A. van Noordt 6 Fantasias
J.P. Sweelinck Toccata of choice, Onder een linde groen, Est-ce Mars, Mein junges Leben hat ein End, Ik voer al over Rein
N. Bruhns Praeludium in e (larger and smaller)
J.S. Bach 3 Choralpartitas BWV 766, 767, 768 , Triosonaten III BWV 527 , VI BWV 530 en  Prelude and Fugue in e moll BWV 548

The 15 participants represented Hong Kong, England, Russia, Austria, Italy, Canada, Japan, Hungary and The Netherlands.

The teachers during the academy were Pieter van Dijk, Theo Jellema, Frank van Wijk, Hans Fagius and Kay Johannsen. In the mornings the whole group met in the Grote Kerk in Alkmaar, while in the afternoons, the group split into 2 subgroups. These travelled with either Theo Jellema  or Pieter van Dijk  to the organs in Medemblik, (Pieter Backer 1671), Beverwijk (Christian Müller 1756) or the Kapelkerk in Alkmaar, (Christian Müller 1762). Each participant had the possibility to play each organ and study with both teachers. On the Thursday the whole group spent the day in Purmerend where the newly restored Garrels organ of 1742 was the focus of attention  during classes, lectures and demonstrations by Jan Jongepier, Theo Jellema and Pieter van Dijk.

 Each morning began with a lecture. The titles of these were as follows:

Lecture/demonstration by Pieter van Dijk
Dutch Organ History – “Anthoni van Noordt’s Tablature book of 1659: the axis of tradition and progress”,
Lecture by Hans Fagius “Aspects of symbolism in the organ works of J.S. Bach”
Lecture by Kay Johannsen  “Bachs Orgelchoräle der Neumeister-Sammlung”
Lecture/demonstration by Jan Jongepier “Dutch Organ History – “The North-German Invasion of the Dutch Republic in the  18th Century”
 Lecture by Frank van Wijk and demonstration byTheo Jellema
Dutch Organ History – “Beautiful organs, skillful town-organists, but no repertoire. The use of the organs in Holland during the first half of the 18th century.
The end of the academy was marked by a participants’ concert on June 25th, during which pieces by J.S. Bach, N. Bruhns, A. van Noordt and J.P. Sweelinck were performer on both organs in the Grote Kerk for an audience of around 80 people.


Running to parallel to the real festival, internet users all over the world could follow the ‘virtual’ festival via As well as the programmes and biographical details of participants, jury members etc, a daily photo-report made it possible to follow the festival activities. The participants found this especially worthwhile. as family members and friends could also experience the atmosphere of the festival. Several hundred people visited the website each day. 

During the festival, visitors could view an exhibition in the Grote Kerk of 39 works of art created by students of the Trinitatis College in Heerhugowaard. These works were inspired by a famous piece, ‘De Werken van Barmhartigheid van de Meester van Alkmaar’, dating from 1504, and formerly housed in the church. The original is now exhibited in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

The organising committee were delighted that the festival was so successful.  The competition was fought out at an astonishingly high artistic level, and there was much appreciation for the candidates,  jury members, and the academy participants. The number of attendees at the various parts of the festival was considerably smaller than at previous festivals. Leen Spaans, festival chairman since 1993 has now retired, and the following festival in 2007 will be organised under the chairmanship of Wim van der Ham. 

Organfestival Holland

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