Each organ concert that takes place in the Basilica of St. James in the Old Town of Prague is unforgettable. This is also thanks to the fact that the instrument is a real treasure. It is the largest organ in Prague, and the second largest in the Czech Republic (the largest is in the church of St. Maurice in Olomouc).
Originally, the organ was much smaller. When the organist Abraham Stark from Loket created it in 1705, it only had 26 stops. However, the organ has undergone major changes since then. The first reconstruction took place in 1754, and further modifications followed in the 20th century, when it was enlarged and received its current form. Today the organ has an incredible 91 speaking stops and 8,277 pipes! It is therefore no wonder that it fills every corner of the basilica with sound.
Honorary title from the Pope
The Basilica of St. James held a number of cultural events in the past. That is why the church was also awarded the honorary title of Basilica minor in 1974 by Pope Paul VI. Today, the church continues this cultural tradition.
The International Organ Festival was founded in 1996 by Irena Chřibková, the principal organist of the Basilica of St. James the Greater, who had already been inviting the world's leading organists to the Czech capital. She wanted to fill the vacuum in the field of liturgical music in the Czech Republic as quickly as possible. “During that time, an amazing number of organists from all over the world took turns playing here,” Irena Chřibková says, adding that this year, organists from the United States, France, Japan, Poland, Russia, and, of course, the Czech Republic accepted invitations to play.
Tribute to Peter Eben
The festival will offer four more concert evenings on Thursdays, during which the audience will listen to music from different periods, such as baroque, classical and contemporary music. The last concert will be a tribute to the composer Petr Eben. The composer’s son, actor and television host Marek Eben, will recite and Irena Chřibková will play the organ.
Traditionally, the festival offers the possibility to watch the artist play thanks to a video projection on screen placed in front of the central aisle. The camera even captures foot movements on the pedals.
Do not miss this unique experience. And you can also contribute to a good cause - this year, the festival is starting a big fundraiser for the cost of the repair of the organ.
For further information about the festival, please visit: http://auditeorganum.cz/category/festivals/.