Henri-Franck Beaupérin

titulaire of the great organ of Sylvanès abbey


Henri-Franck Beaupérin is one of the most unique organists of his generation: whether through the vast repertoire that he practices and which gives pride of place to symphonic aesthetics and transcriptions, through his art of improvisation or his proposals for an instrument designed for the future, he invites us to take a fresh look at the organ.

One of Gaston Litaize's last pupils, he later studied with Michel Chapuis, Olivier Latry, Michel Bouvard, Loïc Mallié, and Jean-Claude Raynaud at the Conservatoire de Paris, and completed his education with Jean Boyer, Louis Robilliard, Thierry Escaich, Ton Koopman, and Jean Guillou.

He won various competitions including the International Competitions in Tokyo, Japan and in Lahti, Finland; and the improvisation prize at the Franz Liszt competition in Budapest. in 1995, he received the Grand Prize for interpretation at the first International Competition of the City of Paris, unanimously awarded by the jury. From then on, he is regularly touring in France and abroad, where he premieres works by composers such as Thierry Escaich, Jean-Baptiste Robin, Grégoire Rolland, Guillaume Le Dréau, Richard Dubugnon...

Organist emeritus of the great Cavaillé-Coll organ at Angers cathedral and titulaire of the great contemporary organ in Sylvanès abbey, He has written various organ transcriptions, several of which have been recorded on CDs, including Prelude, Chorale and Fugue by César Franck, L'Anneau de Salomon by Jean-Louis Florentz, Franz Liszt's Sonata, Paul Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice...

Keenly interested in organ building and its future, he is the designer of “Gulliver,” a computer-assisted modular organ. This instrument, a true great pipe organ that can be transported anywhere and accessible as close as possible to the public, foreshadows new forms of concerts and an innovative musical approach.

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The Great Organ of Sylvanès

The organ builder Gerhard Grenzing likes to say: "A good organ must grab you twice. First, when seeing it for the first time, it sweeps you away with the monumental aspect of its case; and then again, upon hearing the instrument, it delights and captivates you with its tones". Isn't that what every visitor feels when confronted with the great organ of Sylvanès? Who has not felt overwhelmed, frightened perhaps, to discover at the back of the church this colossal mass of wood and metal that contrasts with the architecture of the nave? When hearing it during a service or a concert, who does not have the feeling of being in the presence of an instrument that is different from all others -- immense, certainly, but at the same time intimate and even friendly? The sounds that could be be pure or raucous, dark or radiant, tenuous or imperious, seem to emerge unpredictably all around you. It is as though the organ has a hundred mouths, each of which is different, and expressive according to its temperament or its mood.

The uniqueness of this giant, the largest contemporary organ in Occitania, with its four keyboards and 4,600 pipes, is that it is designed as the assemblage of several autonomous organs, each having its own personality intended to combine harmoniously. As Daniel Birouste, its creator, writes, "Sylvanès' acoustics are sufficiently effective so that we can count on the diversity of sounds which serves the spatiality of the instrument rather than on the stacking of more or less powerful registers."

In cosmetics, a "perfume organ" is the cabinet on which the bottles of essences are staggered. From these, the perfumer, through subtle blendings, will create the fragrances. The Sylvanès Organ is exactly that -- a laboratory where the organist-creator will work on sound colors to give the works played a new, unheard-of timbre. What you will hear on the Sylvanès organ, you will never hear anywhere else!

The Gulliver Organ

A Modular Computer-assisted Organ

Jonathan Swift had made his character Gulliver into an adventurer who, always too big or too small in the lands he traversed, eventually succeeded by his skill in finding himself at ease. The "Gulliver" is also a mobile organ, a traveling instrument calling for new forms of concerts and shows, new repertoire, new audiences

The use of innovative techniques enabled the two brothers Olivier and Stéphane Robert who built it to dissociate its elements and reduce its dimensions in order to make it transportable, easily available on stages of various configurations and in direct visual and acoustic contact with the audience.

If the sound does indeed come from the pipes of an authentic organ, as bequeathed to us by centuries of artistic craftsmanship, the living breath of those pipes achieves by this new proximity, a purity and a frankness. This reinforces its emotional power and will allow the organ to dialogue now more familiarly with other musical ensembles. All stylistic boundaries are now broken!

Internal mechanisms, on the other hand, have given way to computerized transmission. The OrganoLogic software designed by Valentin Leroux, compatible with the MIDI standard, provides musicians with fluidity and variety in the use of sound colours that go far beyond the uses to which they have been accustomed for generations by the practice of the traditional instruments of our churches.

The Gulliver Organ happens to be the last one to be carried out by the late Olivier Robert (1965-2021). His voicing is astonishing by its fullness and subtle transitions between the timbres which give the illusion of a much richer and larger organ than any traditional instrument of comparable dimensions.

To the listener who discovers this organ on a human scale, its twenty modules appear on stage like so many characters in a theatrical dialogue. In addition to the console, a whole mechanism unknown up to this time, a multitude of pipes of wood or metal of all sizes and shapes, horizontal or vertical is being unveiled.

The motionless choreography of the organist's playing and the dialogue of the sounds on the different keyboards, the scenic spatialization of the sound, all of this is likely to evoke a new perception of the organ by the public and perhaps also by the musicians themselves.

The Gulliver Organ in concert:



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Henri-Franck Beaupérin

The Gulliver Organ