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Notre-Dame Organist Olivier Latry named William T. Kemper Artist-in-Residence at KU

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

The world’s premier organist Olivier Latry has been named a William T. Kemper Artist-in-Residence at the University of Kansas School of Music, beginning this fall.

Latry is one of three organists at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris and is professor of organ at the Paris Conservatory of Music. He performs more than 100 concerts a year and has given concerts in more than 50 countries on five continents.

This is the first time Latry has held an academic position outside of France. As part of the appointment, Latry will visit the KU School of Music each semester for three years, giving lessons, master classes and concerts as part of his stay. Latry’s appointment is made possible through William T. Kemper Foundation—Commerce Bank, Trustee.

“The impact of Olivier Latry joining the faculty of the School of Music as the William T. Kemper Artist-in-Residence cannot be overstated, as he will have an unparalleled connection with our students,” said James Higdon, KU Dane and Polly Bales Professor of Organ. “The Greater Kansas City community has an enviable culture in the arts that extends to the organ and its literature, and his presence will enrich the entire region.”

Latry’s plans to visit in November. During that time, he will perform a benefit concert at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kansas City, Missouri with proceeds going to Notre-Dame employees who have lost their jobs because of April’s devastating fire at the cathedral.

Latry’s appointment is the result of a decades-long relationship that began when he visited the KU School of Music in 1986 as the first stop on his inaugural American tour. Since his first visit, Latry has performed at KU six more times. During his last visit in October 2017, Latry was joined by Notre-Dame’s two other titular organists Phillippe Lefebvre and Vincent Dubois as part of the 2017 American Guild of Organist National Pedagogy Conference, which was hosted by the KU School of Music’s Division of Organ and Church Music.

“I welcomed Olivier Latry to KU in 1986. In that first visit, we established a strong personal bond and long-lasting relationship with KU and our organ program,” Higdon said.

In 1985 at the age of 23, Latry won the competition to become one of the three titular organists of Notre-Dame, making him the youngest Notre-Dame organist in the modern era. In 1995 he was appointed professor of organ at the Paris Conservatory, where he continues to teach alongside Michael Bouvard. He is also organist emeritus with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra in Canada.

Along with performing every three weeks at Notre-Dame, Latry maintains a full schedule of concert performances appearing regularly as a soloist at prestigious venues and festivals, and with leading orchestras around the world. Latry has recorded through the BNL, Deutsche Grammophon and Naïve labels. His most recent recordings include “Bach to the Future,” performed on the Cavaille-Coll instrument at Notre-Dame and “Trois Siècles d’Orgue Notre-Dame de Paris,” featuring music composed by past and current organists of Notre-Dame.

While at KU, Latry will perform in the Bales Organ Recital Hall, which opened in 1996 and houses a 45-stop mechanical action organ built by Hellmuth Wolff & Associés. From its modest beginnings in 1867, the history of the study of organ and church music at KU is a long and distinguished one. Offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral-level degrees, the Division of Organ and Church Music has grown into one of the largest programs in the country.  

More information on Latry can be found at http://www.concertorganists.com/artists/olivier-latry/.

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