International Organ Festival of St Albans

July 10th 2019
By: Melanie Hollidge
International Organ Festival of St Albans

For many years the St Albans Organ Festival has presented arguably the world’s leading organ competition. It attracts young organists from all over the world, to be heard by organists of international standing. Over the years its past prize-winners have included many of today’s most influential organists. This year is the 30th St Albans International Organ Festival. Running from the 8th of July to the 20th of July 2019 this two weeks long biennial festival celebrates organs, organists and organ music and a whole lot more besides.

The Festival’s diverse mix of large-scale and intimate concerts, talks, workshops, art exhibitions and fringe events offers something for everyone who lives in and around St Albans and Harpenden or beyond. Most of the events are centred on the magnificent Norman cathedral of St Albans but they also spread out all around the beautiful historic city, just a short hop from central London. For some of the additional competition rounds and performances, important venues in London will be hosting the events.  

The St Albans International Organ festival was founded in 1963 by the distinguished organist Peter Hurford OBE, it was one of the first music festivals of its kind in the world, combining organ competitions with concerts of other kinds of music. His aim was to provide other musical events with different instruments, to attract larger audiences and demonstrate the potential of the organ as a musical instrument in its own right. He seems to have succeeded.

Almost 50 years on, the St Albans International Organ Festival now combines 10 days of music by international musicians, from orchestral to choral, early music to jazz alongside all the other delight of the historic city of St Albans, with its Roman remains, grand cathedral and other historic buildings, as well as all its high quality cafes and restaurants, just 20 minutes by train from London, or 10 minutes from the M25.