Newsletter Februar 2015

Organ Festival Holland

Februar 2015

Enter the organ academy and play the top organs in Alkmaar!

From 26 June – 4 July 2015 the International Organ Academy in Alkmaar will take place for the 13th time. There will be workshops, master classes, concerts and excursions and it is open to organ students, professional organists and advanced amateurs. 

You can enrol as an active participant or as an observer and work with international specialists on a repertoire specifically attuned to the possibilities of the teaching organs. The masterclasses and workshops take place, among others, in the Grote St. Laurenskerk on the Van Covelens organ (1511) and the Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ (1646/1725), as well as on the fabulous Müller organs in the Lutheran Church (1755) and the Kapelkerk (1762,) both also in Alkmaar. A chance not to be missed to gain knowledge and experience of these top instruments!

The academy this time focuses on  choral repertoire from Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck to Johann Sebastian Bach, with extra attention for North German choral fantasies for which the Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ is so ideally suited. 
The academy will be concluded with a concert by the participants, on both organs in the Grote St. Laurenskerk.

Detailed information about entering the academy, a list of repertoire and a list of teachers can be found on International Organ Academy Alkmaar

We are looking forward to meeting you at the academy week in Alkmaar!

On behalf of the teachers of the 13th International Organ Academy,
Frank van Wijk and Pieter van Dijk.

George Freeman, a regular participant since 2005 about
The Academy 

This is a week of non-stop action. The organs themselves make a wonderful impression and I am convinced that the Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger organ is indeed the finest in the world. But the biggest impact must be the unfailing enthusiasm, friendliness and generosity of the teachers. This has included all the jury members, as well as the anchor men – Pieter van Dijk and Frank van Wijk. 

How is it for Academy students? 

Teachers show endless patience with students of all grades and value everyone’s contribution. Special efforts are made to ensure than even the shyest student has a fair share of playing. These teachers are wonderfully free of dogma, without rigid rules (and of course they sometimes give alternative views to underscore this freedom).

Yet there is always rigorous scholarship and great interest in sources and documentary evidence. We learn much about the lives and contexts of organists in the period before repertoire was widespread, where improvisation and composition were the daily norm. The emphasis is always on making music to the highest standard possible.

The Academy members public concert on the final Saturday morning makes an attractive target opportunity for every student. It’s truly a wonderful week! 

Ayumi Kitamura, ´Competition winner 2013´ about her experiences

I had a lovely time in Alkmaar. I loved the city, which is so much connected with the church, the organs and organ music and I felt very proud to be allowed to play those incredibly beautiful instruments. The people I met in 2013 were very nice and helpful. 

After we, as candidates, were selected we were invited to come to Alkmaar for a weekend, where the city organists Pieter van Dijk and Frank van Wijk made us familiar with the organs. This does not happen very often at other competitions! We got to know and understand the 3 organs quite well, how they sound in the church and which registrations are possible. I find this valuable experience still helps me.

If winning the competition has helped me in my career is difficult to say. But I am gradually getting more and more invitations to play in various places in the world, whcij makes me very happy. Luckily this is also the case in Japan, where the Schnitger Organ Competition is known as one of the most prestigious in the world.

I hope to be able to get more and more experience on historical organs, so that I can build up a good and successful career as an organist.

All information about the application for the Academy can be found at

Organ Festival Holland academy

All information about the application for the  International Schnitger Organ Competition can be found at

Organ Festival Holland competition

Photo albums and audio/video clips from the Festival can be found via the website or at

Photo album
Film album

Reactions from the Competition 2013 finalists

Gerben Budding  (2nd price)
Things are well organised in Alkmaar; you know where you are.
It was a wonderful treat to start off with a Fantasie by Sweelinck on the Van Covelens organ.
A competition on the unique organs in the St. Laurenskerk in Alkmaar is very inspiring.
The competition has resulted in my being offered a number of wonderful concerts.

Hyewon Woo (3rd price)
I have really appreciated taking part in this competition and thank all the members of the jury.
For me, it was a huge experience to play such beautiful organs: wherever I go, for the rest of my life  they will stay in my heart.

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