Fringe paves the way to organ festival line-up

George the Dragon

George the Dragon - Credit: Archant

Preparations are well underway for the Festival Fringe which is being held just days before the start of the St Albans International Organ Festival.

The Fringe week begins on July 4 and is a community event held in conjunction with St Albans district council.

Most activities are free and take place around the Clock Tower, Christopher Place and Vintry Garden. Acts including Leveret, Hill Street Blues Band, The Tuesday Club and The Live Music Project presented by Denise Parsons from Trestle Arts Base.

There will also be a visit from George the Dragon, a 12-foot display of musical, bubble-blowing contraptioneering.

The main festival begins on July 8 when the organ competitions, founded by Peter Hurford in 1963, get underway.

This year, 71 organists aged under 33, from across 21 countries applied to come to St Albans for the final rounds. The pre-selection process reduced this to 23 finalists, six of whom are competing for the Improvisation Prize and 17 for the Interpretation Prize.

There is a strong east European flavour with Poland, Russia, Hungary and the Czech Republic represented with some finalists coming from even further afield including the USA, South Korea and New Zealand.

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Rather than staying in hotels the finalists live with host families across the city who provide bed and breakfast as well as friendship, support and encouragement. There is still an opportunity to host a competitor during the festival and anyone who can offer a spare room is asked contact the festival administrator via the website which also contains further details of events and the opportunity to book tickets.