There is amazing and creative work being done in the organ world by innovative organists — work that should inspire each of us to promote the arts in our own world. Over the past year, I’ve had the distinct privilege to become acquainted with Austrian organist and educator, Michael König. He is a man passionate about sharing the organ and its repertoire with new audiences, new students, and new congregations worldwide. One of his project is the Organ of the Month Series in Innsbruck, Austria.
The following is excerpted from an interview with Mr. Koenig published in the March issue of the Pro-Motion Music E-Newsletter. To read the entire interview, please visit www.promotionmusic.org.
Jeannine: I am intrigued by how you are bringing organ music to people in a “down-to-earth” manner. Is the Organ of the Month series such a project?
Mr. König: Yes, in fact it is. The main purpose of Organ of the Month project is to present an overview of the many superb organs, great and small, in Innsbruck, Austria. However, in reality I want to give as many clues about the organ music I perform as possible. As you know audiences are not familiar with organ music and really, sometimes organ music is not easy to listen to. My goal is to help people understand why people like you and I love organ music!
Jeannine: What is the reality of making a project like this work?
Mr. König: First, I must stress that you need an entity or institution for backing and publicity. Over the past three years,the Organ of the Month project has been supported by the Music Department of the Province Museum of the Tirol. Second, you must be creative with your publicity to bring people to the concerts and then find ways to encourage them to become part of the Organ of the Month community.
Jeannine: Please share ideas that are working for you and how they are helping you meet your goal.
Mr. König: I not only create “teaser videos” to give people a glimpse of what instrument and repertoire they will experience at each concert, but I also create videos to show people what they missed by not attending the concert.
The 70 minute lecture/concert includes a time for questions from the audience. When we began our adventure three years ago, we had 25 people at the first concert. We now have a loyal following of 40 folks with as many as 200 at each event eager to gain an understanding of the organ as well as the repertoire I carefully choose and perform on each instrument.
I am excited to report that at our last Organ of the Month concert on a 60 rank organ in the Innsbruck Town Hall generated enough media publicity that the city of Innsbruck is now on track to preserve instead of destroy this historic organ. A very positive result of our series. To grow our audience beyond those who can physically attend, we also offer live streaming of each of the Organ of the Month programs.
Jeannine: What a fantastic project to bring new audiences to the organ — my passion as well! I would love to see such a project throughout the US to grow our audiences.