Since 1987, the French Organ Music Seminar has featured study tours to Paris and other locations where participants hear and play the magnificent instruments and receive instruction in the form of master classes, lectures and recitals from leading organists.
These exciting seminars are planned for organists and organ lovers of all proficiency levels who wish to study the great French, British, and German organ playing traditions: the organs, the written music, service playing, and improvisation.
All classes are held in English. The participants are grouped together and assisted at all times by group leaders.
Organists and participants of all proficiency levels will have the opportunity to participate in the following activities:
- Hear and play play magnificent instruments
- Master classes and private lessons from world-renowned English and French organists
- Receive invaluable historic information
- Daily master classes and lessons are offered
- Regularly scheduled classes at the various churches
- Organ practice time is available
We ask that our participants select music suitable for the particular instrument. Although larger works are welcome, there may not be time for them to be played in their entirety, as each participant will have a limited amount of time on some of the organs. Short, intimate pieces are very good for showing the various timbres of the solo stops, celestes and small ensembles, and provide a welcome contrast to large, loud works. Participants will be divided into small groups as needed to ensure playing time for everyone at each instrument.
Walking is extensive, so bring your walking shoes. In London and Paris we use the subway system, both of which contain long flights of stairs. In addition, there are stairways to all of the organ lofts, many of which are precarious spiral stairs. If you have trouble walking or standing, please let us know when registering.
Letters from past seminar participants
“I have been to two of these tours to Paris, and I can assure you that they are a fantastic
way to discover major organs and organists in Europe. I assume that many of you know some (or all of these
instruments/organists), but for all the others, FOMS is a great opportunity!
If you have not yet made other plans for the summer, I would like to encourage you to strongly consider these wonderful tours...”
…Jens Korndoerfer, Concert Organist
“It has been a few years since I participated but it's an excellent program, one of the very best of it's kind and I
recommend it highly. The faculty is first rate and the organs are just magnificent. London and the UK, Paris and then the Alps and Burgundy
this year, wow! Unforgettable, Go!”
…Carl Schwartz, Organist, Baltimore, Maryland
“I want to thank you again for your making such an educational and inspiring trip possible.
You opened many doors for all of us that we could not have opened ourselves.
It was a special privilege to be with Bernadette, Yves, Daniel Roth, Philippe Lefebvre,
Marie Langlais, and Naji Hakim. They are all such wonderful musicians and people.
What an education to get a glimpse of them first hand!”
…Wilma Jensen, Concert Organist
“The seminar admirably fulfilled its purpose as an introduction to the organ culture of France,
particularly of the 19th and 20th centuries, under the guidance of outstanding performers and teachers.
Particularly rewarding was the opportunity to associate place, instrument, composer and repertoire.
The generosity and enthusiasm of the lecturers and host organists who shared their instruments and their
expertise contributed significantly to the success of the seminar.”
…Dale Peters, Professor of Organ, University of North Texas
“My own playing of Guilmant on French organs was one which all would relish who had ever
learnt French organ music without having been able to play it on an authentic instrument. I was invited
to join American organ enthusiasts from Washington to Texas for the seminar involving most of the leading
Parisian organs and organists. One can imagine the unique thrill it is to be able to feel the music on
the real thing, under the guidance of the successors to the tradition.”
…Malcolm Rudland, Organ Critic, The Musical Times
“In addition to the obvious benefits of hearing and playing Parisian organs, the members
of this tour had other less frequently encountered benefits: the chance to meet the organists, hear them
play their own instruments, often with music written for those organs, and meet them socially –
there were no less than eight meals with French organists…No matter the technical level or background
of participants, there was value for all in this well-organized tour.”
…Arthur Lawrence, The American Organist
“There was really something special about this trip. I don’t know if it was the pace of the
European life style, the camaraderie among our group, the incredible hospitality of our hosts and hostesses, the
fact that we all shared a similar interest, or perhaps all of the above – but it was a significant lifetime
experience for me. I made many new friends and I now have a renewed enthusiasm for making music on the organ.”
…Don Auberger, Finance Director for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
“I wish to express my most sincere gratitude for making the French Organ Music Seminar a reality.
You made my first trip to Paris a cherished memory. The considerable activities you planned were all insightful and
enjoyable. Thank you for making such a rich experience possible.”
…Wayne Peterson, Organist, Fort Wayne, Indiana
“Thank you for a wonderful nine days in Paris. Hearing and playing the Parisian organs is something
I have wanted to do since college. The experience was everything I had hoped it would be and more. I appreciate your
fairness with time on the various organs.”
…John Deaver, Organist, Cincinnati, Ohio
“I want to thank you for your efforts in organizing the tour. For me it was the musical event of a
lifetime and I hope to go again in the future. After the restoration of the interior of Saint-Sulpice, I could listen
to that Cavaillé-Coll forever.”
…Michael Hughes, Recording Engineer, Trenton, Ohio
“I just want to tell you firsthand what an incredible experience this trip is for students. I had the
opportunity to go to FOMS after my freshman year. While there I couldn’t believe that we had access to nearly
all of the famous organists in the city of Paris, let alone those famous churches. The coaching sessions were
extremely beneficial for me, and I learned so much from them. Now when I practice I don’t have to wonder
as much ow a piece was meant to sound, how to register it, or what the acoustics of the room it was written for.
This trip really was an experience of a lifetime. Thank you so much to everyone who helped make the trip possible
for me, and I strongly encourage everyone to let this experience be available to other students in the future.”
…Josh Melson, Organ Student, Centenary Colllege, Shreveport, Louisiana
“My mind boggles at trying to figure out how you put all of that seminar together and caused it to work
as well as it did. So I just want to say thanks for a memorable time and for your kindness and consideration. After 42
years it was more of a pilgrimage for me and in the process I had an extra bonus meeting so many wonderful people.”
…Gerald Phillips, Organist, Fitchburg, Massachusetts
“The French Organ Seminar was a marvelous experience for me, and far exceeded my expectations.
I am already looking forward to going another year. I know it is difficult to coordinate all of those French organists,
and I really appreciate all the work you did to put everything together.”
…David Erwin, Organist, St. Louis, Missouri
“As I have thought about the many unique opportunities you made possible for the French Organ Music
Seminar I have concluded that the whole experience proved to be a blessing in my life. I have heard the French organ
sounds, performed on some significant organs, and enjoyed the artistic architectural beauty of Paris.”
…Diane Monson, Organist, New York, N. Y.
“I enjoyed meeting everyone and thought the trip was marvelous. I would really like to go again.”
…Roger Vine, Organist, San Francisco, California
“Thanks for the French Organ Music Seminar. I really had an enjoyable time. Getting to hear and
play so many of the Paris organs was a thrill.”
… Darrell Fluehr, Organist, Linicoln, Nebraska
BOMS — FOMS Staff
Christina Harmon resides in East Texas, where she is the Assistant Organist at Christ Episcopal Church in Tyler, Texas. She recently retired as organist at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, where she served for 37 years as organist and for 20 as composer-in-residence. She is a graduate of Oberlin Conservatory of Music and Southern Methodist University and has done further study at Union Theological Seminary, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and the University of North Texas. She has worked as an organ and theory instructor at Southern Methodist University, the University of North Texas, Dallas Baptist University, and the University of Texas at Dallas. Many of her former students are now professional students and prize winners. She is featured on several c.d.’s, including Summershimmer, Music of Women Organists; The Music at Park Cities Baptist; Sing Gloria, the Choirs at St. Michael’s and All Angel; and Christmas in Dallas: Trumpet and Organ Christmas Music arranged by Christina Harmon and Performed by Members of the Dallas and Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestras. A new cd, “The Organs of Keeweenaw,” featuring Christina Harmon playing the organs of the Michigan Upper Peninsula, is now available from Raven recordings.
For many years Christina Harmon has given concerts in churches in the United States and in Europe, including Westminster Abbey (where she was invited to play two years in a row), and Westminster Cathedral. Her concerts at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and at the Cathedral of Chartres were given outstanding reviews:
“The public was caught up in the very brilliant and precise playing of this concert artist of great talent.” …L’Echo Republicain, Chartres, France “We were able to appreciate the sensitivity, precision and virtuosity of the performance of Christina Harmon at Notre Dame Cathedral. Thanks to the high quality of her execution this concert was marvelous and exciting, and a very great success”…Inter-Orgue, Paris, France
Christina’s prize-winning compositions have received outstanding reviews from individuals and publications. Her works for choir, organ, and instruments have been performed in churches throughout the U. S. and Europe and are featured on recordings by Marie-Bernadette Dufourcet, Barbara Harbach, and others. Her publications and bio are listed in the third revised and enlarged edition of A Directory of Composers for Organ, (John Henderson Publishing Ltd., 2005).
In 1986 she founded the French and British Organ Music Seminars, which have become events of international status in which organists from all over the world study and perform on some of the greatest European organs. In addition she is the editor of six DVD’s which feature the Parisian organs and organists of Ste-Clotilde and St-Sulpice, all available through the Organ Historical Society.
Masako Gaskin resides in Beaumont, Texas, where she first became interested in the French Organ Music Seminar through her son, Samuel Gaskin, who studied organ and theory with Christina Harmon for many years. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Stephen F. Austin State University and has gone on to become a practicing artist in the Beaumont area, specializing in watercolor, pastels, greeting cards, knitting, and quilting.
Masako served in the U. S. Army as an aircraft electrician, working on the electrical systems of helicopters (Huey, Shinook, Cobra, and Black Hawk) at Ft. Lewis and at the Sotocano Air Base in Honduras.
Masako has served as the Festival Chair for the Texas Federation Music Club in Beaumont since 2004, organizing events for over 100 students each year through Lamar University and music teachers throughout southeast Texas.
Serving as the Assistant Director of the French Organ Music Seminar since 2007, she has organized itineraries, tours, master classes, and events in France, Germany, England, and Spain, and has been instrumental in arranging international travel and hotel accommodations. Her fluency in Japanese and ability to communicate with Asian students has expanded the influence of the French Organ Music Seminar to the Asian musical world.
Raised in Reims, France, Françoise’s father owned an art restoration company in Reims and worked on art restoration at Reims Cathedral. Her father was also a very accomplished architectural photographer and historian and she worked with him for many years. She traveled extensively around Western Europe on her bicycle between 1973 and 1979, and later moved to the United States and earned a Master Degree in Economics. She is married to Richard and they have three wonderful and interesting children, Alexandra, 25, Peter-Michael, 16, and Henry, 14. Henry is an organist who has been studying the organ with Christina Harmon since October 2010. Françoise helped organize and chaperone the 2011 French and Spanish Organ Seminars and she is a Co-Director for this year’s seminars which will take us to Lyon and the Alps, a region she loves; the Dijon area; her native city of Reims; and Paris where two of her brothers and many of her friends live.
Cliff Varnon is a director of the British Organ Music Seminar. He has also been an assistant with the French Organ Music Seminar since 1996. He is currently the organist/choir master at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Cleburne, Texas and a piano and voice instructor at the Dallas School Of Performing Arts in Garland, Texas. He has served numerous churches in the Dallas area, including 14 years as music director at John Calvin Presbyterian Church. For over 12 years he owned a retail music store specializing in choral, handbell and keyboard music. He holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in organ from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas and a Masters of Music Degree in choral conducting from Texas A & M, in Commerce, Texas.
Last Updated: 9 Jan 2013
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