All concerts start at 8 p.m. Admission free
Sunday, 19 March
BEIRUT | National Evangelical Church
AXEL FLIERL (Germany), organ and GEORG HIEMER (Germany) trumpet
In collaboration with the German Embassy in Lebanon
Tuesday, 21 March
MAYSSRAH | Church of St. Elie – Carmelite monastery
film-concert “THE KING OF KINGS” (1927): a silent film on the Passion of Christ
ANTONIO DI DEDDA (Italy), organ improvisation and musical commentary
In collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute of Beirut
Wednesday, 22 March
BEIRUT Gemmaizeh | Collège des Frères, Sacré-Coeur
ANTONIO DI DEDDA (Italy), organ
In collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute of Beirut
Thursday, 23 March
AJALTOUN | Church of Mar Zakhia
Concert of the OUTSTANDING ORGAN STUDENTS of the Notre Dame University School of Music
In collaboration with the Italian Cultural Institute of Beirut
Friday, 24 March
BEIRUT Kantary | Church of St. Elie
Hymnos Vocal Ensemble (Philokalia Institute), conducted by SISTER MARANA SAAD (Lebanon)
VICTOR CONTRERAS (Mexico), organ
Saturday, 25 March – event for the National Feast of the Annunciation
BEIRUT | American University of Beirut (AUB) Assembly Hall
Les Solistes de Beyrouth conducted by FERNANDO AFARA (Lebanon)
YVES LAFARGUE (France), organ
In collaboration with the French Embassy in Lebanon
Sunday, 26 March
ZOUK MOSBEH | Church of the Notre Dame de Louaize monastery –
REV. PEDRO ALBERTO SÁNCHEZ (Spain), organ and CHRISTELLE NJEIM (Lebanon), percussions
In collaboration with the Embassy of Spain in Lebanon
The concerts will be broadcast live streaming on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/solorganfestival (UTC/GMT +2)
Dr Axel Flierl studied organ, organ improvisation and Catholic church music in Munich and Paris and musicology in Karlsruhe. He completed his decades-long study of the work and person of Karl Höller (1907-1987) with a musicological dissertation on Höller’s organ works under Prof. Dr. Thomas Seedorf, a previously unexplored chapter of German music history. In 2006, he was appointed principal organist and conductor at the papal basilica minor of St. Peter in Dillingen an der Donau (Bavaria), the concathedral of the diocese of Augsburg, and has turned this place into a centre of church music .Here he initiated the international organ festival Dillinger Basilikakonzerte around the large Sandtner organ. He has also performed the complete organ works of Karl Höller and Maurice Duruflé. Concerts as an organ soloist and as a lecturer at master classes regularly take him to the leading organ centres in Australia, Hong-Kong, USA, Russia, Kazakhstan, Abkhazia, South America, South Africa, Iceland, in the Middle East and almost all European countries. He has also held a visiting professorship at the Pontificio Istituto di Musica sacra, the Pontifical Conservatory of Music in Rome, since 2022.He has also made radio and television recordings, several CD recordings and is an author of books.
Georg Hiemer was born on 13 March 1991 in Kaufbeuren and began playing the trumpet at the age of 9. In October 2008 he began his concert studies with Prof. Erich Rinner at the Tyrolean State Conservatory, which he completed with a diploma in February 2014. From September 2014 he studied in Prof. Erich Rinner’s master class, which he completed with distinction in July 2015. He also attended master classes with Guy Touvron and Jean-Francois Michel. His first solo CD “Friends” was followed by his second album “Zeitreise” in 2021. Georg Hiemer is a member of various brass ensembles and performs as a soloist in different formations. Concert tours have taken him all over Germany as well as to Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Italy and Spain.
Antonio Di Dedda studied at the Conservatory „U. Giordano“ in Foggia (Italy) piano with Rossella Di Chio, Gennaro Pesce and Claudio Trovajoli and organ with Luca Scandali and Francesco Di Lernia. In 2015 he obtained his Master of Music at the “Hochschule für Musik und Theater Hamburg” in piano with Evgeni Koroliov and in organ with Pieter Van Dijk and 2020 completed his studies with the “Konzertexamen” in piano with Anna Vinnitskaya and organ with Pieter Van Dijk. In addition to this he attended a course at the “Accademia Pianistica di Imola” with Franco Scala and Stefano Fiuzzi and studied regularly from 2012 piano at “Scuola di Musica di Fiesole” with Elisso Wirsaladze. Antonio is a laureate of various competitions, such as “Premio Venezia 2009” (Italy), “M.Tariverdiev Organ Competition 2015” (Russia) and “Robert Schumann Competition Zwickau 2020” (Germany). As a soloist he performed in many prestigious organ and piano festivals in Italy, Germany, England, Spain, France, Russia, Poland, Lithuania, and China, and can be heard in recordings for “Radio Vatican” and NDR Hamburg. He was “VakanzOrganist” at the Hauptkirche St. Michaelis in Hamburg 2021-2022. Currently Antonio teaches piano at the Conservatorio di Musica “C. Pollini” in Padova.
Victor Contreras is a renowned Mexican organist who honed his skills in Paris, France, under Eric Lebrun and received harpsichord training with Richard Siegel and Élisabeth Joyé. He studied orchestral conducting with Sergio Cárdenas and Fernando Lozano. He is the director of the Baroque Orchestra of the National Conservatory of Music, and has acted as guest director for several symphony orchestras in Mexico. Contreras has performed as a soloist in prestigious forums and festivals across Mexico, Europe, the US, and South America. He won the Guillermo Pinto Baroque Organ Competition and the José Nazarre Baroque Organ Competition in 2008 and was recognized by the National Fund for Culture and Arts, FONCA. Contreras teaches at the National Conservatory of Music and the Superior School of Music in Mexico and is considered a reference in the training of young organists. He founded the Santa Prisca Organ Festival, the International Organ Festival of the Guadalupano Sanctuary, and the International Organ Festival of Mexico City with the support of the National Institute of Fine Arts.
Reverend Pedro Alberto Sánchez, O.S.A. was born in Salamanca, Spain. His earliest music training began as a member of the famous boys’ choir at the Real Monasterio de San Lorenzo de El Escorial and studied in the music conservatory of Madrid “Arturo Soria”, where he graduated with the degree of Organ Professor. He then moved to Rome to attend the well-known Conservatorio Santa Cecilia advancing in organ and composition under the tutelage of great maestros, including Ottorino Baldassarri, Jiri Lecjian, and Federico del Sordo and was a member of the Schola at Saint Peter’s Basilica. Later he continued his studies at the Pontificio Instituto de Música Sacra where he specialized in Gregorian Chant and Improvisation. Father Sánchez received a Master’s Degree in Organ Pedagogy from the Real Conservatorio Superior de Musica in Madrid, where his mentor was Dr. D. Miguel Bernal Ripol. He has performed organ concerts in Spain, Mexico, Poland, Switzerland, Italy, Panama, Belgium and the United States of America. Father Sánchez was ordained a Priest of the Augustinian order, with religious studies at the Estudios Eclesiásticos por la Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca and Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome (Canon Law). Currently, he holds the title of Music Director and Organist at the Real Monasterio del Escorial and Director of the Semana Internacional de Organo de Madrid.
Born in 1969, Yves Lafargue studied organ with Georges Lartigau, Aude Heurtematte, then entered Jean Boyer’s and Liesbeth Schlumberger’s class at the Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique de Lyon, until he gets graduated in 1998. Attending Jean-Claude Raynaud’s and Jean-Claude Henry’s classes at the CNSM in Paris, he was awarded first prizes in both harmony and counterpoint.
In 2000, he is selected for a one-year stay as the organist in residence of Sapporo concert hall, Japan. During this original artistic residence, he teaches the organ, performs several times as well in Sapporo (where, during the Pacific Music Festival, he joins the NHK Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Charles Dutoit for a performance of Poulenc’s Organ concerto) as in other cities all over the country, and records a programme of French works for Christmas time.
Yves Lafargue is the titular organist of the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière in Lyon France and the Organ professor at the Conservatoire de Lyon. As a recital performer, he has participated in several organ seasons and festivals in France, Latvia, Switzerland, Japan. He often performs with Orchestras such as l’Orchestre National de Lyon, Orchestre de Macon, Spirito…or even accompany vocal ensembles and choirs such as Chœur d’Oratorio de Lyon, Le Puy cathedral children’s choir, Lyon cathedral boy’s choir.
Hymnos Vocal Ensemble was founded in February 2022 at Philokalia Institute by S. Marana Saad. It is an ensemble that comprises professional singers who thrive to achieve and accomplish high-quality music. It visions a wide repertoire of different musical genres including traditional, classical and modern. This ensemble welcomes professional musicians from various musical backgrounds which allows it to create a unique and charming sound. Hymnos’ main mission is to spread the musical culture, and to be a source of hope, resilience and perseverance from Lebanon to all over the world, despite all the critical circumstances that the country is facing. Moreover, Hymnos Vocal Ensemble aims to give Lebanese professional singers the opportunity to reap the fruits of their hard work throughout the years, by participating in fructuous, local, and international musical works. Also, this ensemble focuses on promoting Lebanese composers, musicians, and writers.
Sister Marana Saad is the founder and president of Philokalia Institute and Organization. She is also, the founder and conductor of Philokalia Choir, known until 2018 by Saint Rafqa Music Institute’s Choir. Sr Marana also conducts the new Ensembles: “Ashtar” and “Hymnos”. She teaches at Philokalia Institute, NDU and USF. Sr. Marana holds a PhD in Monastic Theology from the Pontifical Atheneum of St. Anselm in Rome and a PhD in Music from the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK). She studied choral conducting with Maestro Walter Marzilli at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome. Moreover, she directed concerts with prominent orchestras all over Lebanon and abroad (France, Cyprus, Italy, Poland, Germany, and USA). She participated in different conferences and workshops (Sweden, Estonia, Vatican, Croatia, Cyprus, etc) and also composed several sacred songs and published articles in music and theology.
Les Solistes de Beyrouth is a Beirut-based vocal ensemble recently founded in 2021 by baritone and singing professor Fernando Afara. The ensemble comprises promising and talented, lyrically trained soloists, intermediate and advanced students of Mr. Afara coming from a variety of backgrounds to share their passion for singing. Fifteen singers of all ages and levels with vibrant voices and promising talents aspire to develop their careers in Lebanon and abroad. The Beirut soloists, under the direction of Fernando Afara, have performed in several concerts in Lebanon, notably at the Saint-Esprit USEK University; Notre Dame University; Saint Joseph University, Byblos and Beirut.They have performed opera works, melodies from different eras and styles and strive to create a mixture combining Eastern and Western traditions.Despite the situation in Lebanon; the economic and financial collapse and the drastic repercussions on the lives of the Lebanese people, the Soloists of Beirut aspire to enhance their potentials and capacities; promote the ideals of peace and prosperity, and believe in a Lebanon open to exchange between different cultures. ‘Les Solistes de Beyrouth’ have recently performed in a Christmas concert with the Lebanese Philharmonic Orchestra in coordination with the Lebanese National Conservatory, under the patronage of the ministry of culture, and are due to perform in March 2023 for the feast of Annunciation alongside their director and a renowned French organist; a special eclectic French program.
Born in Lebanon, Fernando Afara studied lyrical singing at the National Conservatory of Beirut and pursued a BA in Musical Education at the Notre Dame University Lebanon. He joined the Conservatoire de Lyon and the Schola-Catorum in Paris. In 2014 he was admitted to the Lausanne University of Music “Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne” HEMU in Switzerland where he pursued his first Master’s degree in opera singing in the class of Frédéric Gindraux. In 2017 he joined the opera studio in Bern. Subsequently, he pursued a second master’s degree in classical singing / vocal teaching orientation at the Geneva University of Music (Haute Ecole de Musique de Genève) in the class of Maria Diaconu. He took part in master classes with Nadine Denize, Hanz Peter Blochwitz, Leontina Vaduva, Nathalie Stutzmann, David Jones, Helmut Deutsch, Maria Diaconu, Brigitte Balleys, Simone Alaimo, Hiroko Kawamishi.. as well as the Lausanne Opera, and Geneva grand theater vocal coaches where he had the opportunity to perform as a soloist. In 2015, he won the 2nd prize unanimously at the 39th Lyceum International Music Competition in Switzerland. Fernando Afara performs regularly in concerts and productions across Europe and Lebanon. He is currently a Classical singing and vocal techniques professor at the Conservatoire de Lannion-trégor CRI in France as well as the Université de Saint-Esprit Kaslik USEK and the Notre Dame University in Lebanon. He is the founder director and singing professor of the newly founded vocal ensemble “Les Soloists de Beyrouth”.