Olivier Latry

Categories: IPYA Winners

Olivier Latry, titular organist of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris , is one of the world’s most distinguished organists, not only in France , but in the international community as well. He was born in Boulogne-sur-Mer , France in 1962, and began his study of piano at the age of 7, and his study of the organ at age 12; he later attended the Academy of Music at St. Maur-des-Fossés, studying organ with Gaston Litaize. From 1981-1985 Olivier Latry was titular organist of Meaux Cathedral and at age 23 he won a competition to become one of the three titular organists of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. From 1990-1995 he taught organ at the Academy of Music at St. Maur-des-Fossés, where he succeeded his teacher, Gaston Litaize. Since 1995 he has taught at the Paris Conservatory, where he has succeeded Michel Chapuis.

In addition to concerts and teaching, Mr. Latry has made his mark through recordings on the BNL label in France , which include music of Bach, the complete organ works of Maurice Duruflé, Louis Vierne’s Symphonies 2 & 3, Widor’s Symphonies 5 and 6, and a recording of works by Litaize. Most recently with Deutsche Grammophon he has recorded “In Spiritum,” devoted to the organ works of César Franck, a recording of transcriptions for the organ entitled “Midnight at Notre-Dame,” and the complete organ works of Olivier Messiaen. He has also co-authored a book on Messiaen: L’oeuvre d’orgue Olivier Messiaen, Olivier Latry and Loïc Mallié (Carus-Verlag 2008).

Not wishing to specialize in a particular repertoire, Olivier Latry would like to be an ambassador of seventeenth to twenty-first century French organ music, hence his equal devotion to the art of improvisation. Today he is counted among the most noted “improvisateurs” in the exceptional French tradition from Charles Tournemire to Pierre Cochereau. He is the recipient of the 2000 Prix Del Duca (Institut de France – Académie des Beaux-Arts), the 2006 Honorary Fellowship from the North and Midlands School of Music (UK), and the 2007 Honorary Fellowship from the Royal College of Organists (UK).

Olivier Latry has performed in more than forty countries on five continents, appearing most often in the United States. He made his first American tour during the fall of 1986, and has subsequently made annual tours to the U.S. , playing recitals in major cities coast to coast, as well as in cities throughout Canada . In addition, he has made special trips to appear for regional and national conventions of the American Guild of Organists as well as for inaugural recitals of new instruments and for major music festivals and summer schools ( Westminster Choir College , McGill University and the San Anselmo Organ Festival). In 2005 Mr. Latry played a solo recital at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and opened the new Rieger organ at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania . In 2006 he was the featured soloist for the opening of the new Dobson organ at Verizon Hall in Philadelphia where he performed for three sold out audiences in gala concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Christoph Eschenbach.

Mr. Latry has a particular interest in contemporary music and has premiered works of Xavier Darasse, Claude Ballif, Thierry Pecout, Vincent Paulet, Thierry Escaich, and Jean-Louis Florentz.  In early 2000 he performed three complete cycles (six recitals each) of the organ music of Olivier Messiaen, at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris , at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola in New York City and at St. Paul’s Cathedral, London.

Olivier Latry and his wife Marie-Therese have three children and live in a little village outside Paris .

Olivier Latry’s recital for the International Performer of the Year Award took place at The Church of St. Ignatius Loyola as part of The Mander Organ Recital Series 2008-2009.

Click here to see the actual program with notes. (PDF)