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Interview with organist Eduard Antal about the "Cantus Ecclesiae" Festival

Friday, 20 May 2022 , ora 13.44

The International Organ Festival "Cantus Ecclesiae" is in its second edition this year, held from May 15th to June 5th. Mr. Eduard Antal, please tell us how this festival was born?

This festival was born out of my passion for a certain side of organ literature, that of the influence of Gregorian music on organ compositions. There is an extremely interesting and complex phenomenon ... how, starting from some relatively simple but spiritually charged themes, some composers manage to discover various musical meanings. The main intention was to gather as many people interested in this field as possible to put together their findings. A kind of sharing for enrichment.

How were the guests chosen for this edition of the festival?

The initial strategy was to identify the perspectives we want to present in this edition, because we did not want a series of concerts, but we preferred to present the organ in its complexity. Then, we looked for the most representative musicians, who would present the dimensions proposed by the organizing team.

We wanted to have a masterclass this year, so we contacted a reference teacher - Jean-Baptiste Robin. In terms of improvisation, we thought of Paolo Oreni, for Cineconcert we preferred Alexandru Catău, and for the educational concert we appealed to the charisma of the organist Steffen Schlandt.

You mentioned the presence of a masterclass given by Jean-Baptiste Robin. How are these master's courses conducted and who can attend?

This master's course will last three days. It will be attended by the six students selected by Jean-Baptiste Robin at the end of the enrollment period. He will work intensively individually with the selected students, and at the end he will present to the public a concert of graduates. In addition to these six active students, everyone interested in music in general is welcome. The courses will take place between May 16th-18th, between 10th-17th, at the organ of St. Joseph's Cathedral. However, more details can be found on the festival's website, in the "Masterclass" section.

The presence of baritone Alin Costea in the concerts on May 15th, but also on June 2nd and 5th brings a new element in relation to the organ recitals. How is the program of these events composed?

Baritone Alin Costea will perform the Gregorian themes that underlie the organ works presented in the concerts you mentioned. It will be a kind of remembrance of the context in which this organ literature appeared, because these works come, for the most part, from the improvisations of the organists in the continuation of the singing of the people. For example, the work I will perform at the June 2nd concert will be Marcel Dupre's "Symphony of Passions," a work based on four Gregorian hymns, which Alin will sing at the beginning of each symphony movement.

The festival also includes a series of interviews - Organcast - available online. What are the topics covered and who is participating in these podcasts?

These podcasts are reminiscent of the online period we went through and from which we wanted to keep the good stuff. There will be 3 interviews in total, which will be broadcast every Tuesday of the festival period, from 20.00, on its social pages.

In the first week, I will present the events of the festival. In the second week, the guest will be Professor Dan Racoveanu, who will talk about training an organist, and in the last week of the festival, he will run a kind of documentary interview about the organ factory from Hărman.

How were the concerts of the previous edition received and what are your expectations now?

Last year's edition was very well received by the public, despite the restrictions of that time, which encouraged and motivated us to continue our adventure. We realized that there is a very high demand in this area of ​​repertoire and that's why we chose to have 17 concerts this year, at all the classical organs in Bucharest.

We hope to live up to the audience's expectations and enjoy the beauty and richness of organ music together!

Interview by Ana Sireteanu
Translated by Medeea Alexandra Stan,
University of Bucharest, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, MTTLC, year I
Corrected by Silvia Petrescu