Fifth edition of the CIOC: October is organ month

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This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

It is comeback time for the Canadian International Organ Competition (CIOC). Scheduled for last year, this event, which takes place every three years in October, had to be postponed because of the pandemic. After 2008, 2011, 2014 and 2017, we will be hearing the fifth edition of the CIOC and the first with Jean-Willy Kunz as artistic director. Officially appointed in 2018, this organist has known the competition since its inception, when he was still a student of CIOC co-founder John Grew.

Sixteen quarter-finalists among some 60 candidates participated in pre-recorded quarter-finals. A jury convened in June 2021 to select the 10 semi-finalists who would make the trip to Montreal. Granted, the CIOC had to adapt, but it did not succumb to the temptation to postpone the contest once again. “This was out of the question for us,” said Kunz. “We wanted to give ourselves every chance to let the competition take place one way or another.”

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More than a competition, this is a real festival that extends throughout the month. There will be concerts by some members of the jury from Oct. 13, the day before the first semi-final round, and even after the final on Oct. 22 at the Maison symphonique. First up is Martin Baker, followed by William Porter (Oct. 16), Dong-ill Shin (Oct. 17), Helga Schauerte Maubouet (Oct. 20), Rachel Laurin (Oct. 23) and Bernard Foccroulle (Oct 24). Louis Robilliard, Patricia Wright and Kunz complete the jury.

Also on the lineup, on Oct. 24, is a gala concert in honour of the late patron Noël Spinelli, co-founder of CIOC in 2006 with Grew. “It is thanks to him that the organ of the Saintes-Anges de Lachine Church was restored,” Kunz says. “Without Noël Spinelli, there would be no CIOC, there would not have been these five editions.”

Kunz notes that eight special prizes have been added to the first, second and third prizes, including the Spinelli prize awarded to the best program, all events combined. “Noël Spinelli liked well-constructed programs that showcase the artist, organ and repertoire,” Kunz recalls.

CIOC activities do not end there. The Festival des couleurs de l’orgue français has teamed up with the CIOC as a partner and will put on four other concerts, every Sunday of the month at 3 p.m. at the Grand Séminaire de Montréal. Thus Joel Peters, Yulia Draginda, Sylvain Caron and Yves-G. Préfontaine are added to the list of performers that the public will be able to hear. In total, a score of events will be presented under the auspices of the CIOC.

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


About Author

Justin Bernard est détenteur d’un doctorat en musique de l’Université de Montréal. Ses recherches portent sur la vulgarisation musicale, notamment par le biais des nouveaux outils numériques, ainsi que sur la relation entre opéra et cinéma. En tant que membre de l’Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique (OICRM), il a réalisé une série de capsules vidéo éducatives pour l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Justin Bernard est également l’auteur de notes de programme pour le compte de la salle Bourgie du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal et du Festival de Lanaudière. Récemment, il a écrit les notices discographiques pour l'album "Paris Memories" du pianiste Alain Lefèvre (Warner Classics, 2023) et collaboré à la révision d'une édition critique sur l’œuvre du compositeur Camille Saint-Saëns (Bärenreiter, 2022). Ses autres contrats de recherche et de rédaction ont été signés avec des institutions de premier plan telles que l'Université de Montréal, l'Opéra de Montréal, le Domaine Forget et Orford Musique. Par ailleurs, il anime une émission d’opéra et une chronique musicale à Radio VM (91,3 FM).

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