St Albans Organ Festival
When Peter Hurford founded the International Organ Festival in 1963, it was one of the first music festivals of its kind in the world – combining organ competitions with concerts of other kinds of music.
From the start, the aim was to provide other musical events with different instruments, some humour and social life – to attract larger audiences and demonstrate the potential of the organ as a musical instrument in its own right. For too long, the organ had been viewed as merely an instrument to accompany church services – the Festival was to prove its possibilities in solo recital, and to encourage the art of improvisation.
Almost 50 years on, the Festival now combines 10 days of music by international musicians, from orchestral to choral, early music to jazz. The organ competitions attract young organists from all over the world, to be heard by organists of international standing.