Rhinegold Photo credit: Liam McArdle
Sebastian Heindl

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Sebastian Heindl wins NIIOC 2017

12:18, 29th August 2017

Sebastian Heindl has won the senior section of the Northern Ireland International Organ Competition (NIIOC), which took place on 21 August on the Walker organ in St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh.

He wins £1,000, a £650 New York flight subsidy and six public recitals, hosted by venues including St Thomas Fifth Avenue, New York; Westminster Abbey, London; and Trinity College, Cambridge, in addition to a trophy.

The 19-year-old is currently studying for a degree in church music with Martin Schmeding at the University of Music and Theatre, Leipzig, which includes liturgy, conducting, singing and jazz, as well as organ performance. He was formerly a chorister of St Thomas Church in Leipzig.

His NIIOC recital programme included his own transcription of the Fanfare pour précéder La Péri by Paul Dukas, and concluded with Etude Héroique by Rachel Laurin.

The second prize of £500 and a hosted recital at Southwark Cathedral, London went to Tom Rioult, a student at the Conservatoire of Music, Dance and Theatre in Caen, France. The third prize of £200 and a hosted recital at St Michael’s Church, Cornhill, London went to Donal McCann of Belfast, who also won the Bach prize of £100 and a Bach recital at St John’s, Smith Square, London. McCann is a former pupil of Methodist College, Belfast and former chorister of St Peter’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Belfast; he has spent the past two years at Eton College and is about to take up an organ scholarship at King’s College, Cambridge.

Five players took part in the intermediate category, which was won by 16-year-old Jan-Aurel Dawidiuk from Hanover, Germany. He receives £300 and a recital at St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh. Second prize went to Thomas Maxwell (Republic of Ireland), and third prize to Sophie Dunley (UK).

The junior category was won by 11-year-old Michael Nevin from Carryduff, County Down and a chorister of St Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast, who receives £200. Michael has won a music scholarship to the Pilgrims School, Winchester, and will take up a quiristership at Winchester College Chapel in September.

Thomas Trotter chaired the competition jury. He was joined by David Hill for the senior category, and by Malcolm Proud for all three categories.

‘Sebastian Heindl stood out because of his well-balanced, unusual programme as well as his excellent playing,’ Trotter said. ‘We were impressed that he included one of his own arrangements, which was very enterprising and meant there was a little bit more of him in the programme. Every competition programme needs a killer piece – the showstopper that, if it is played well, we can say “that was the outstanding performance of the competition”. Sebastian did just that with the Rachel Laurin piece, which I didn’t know. I always like to be surprised when I’m listening to a recital, and I also like to hear players performing contemporary music, so Sebastian scored highly for that.’

Richard Yarr, founder and artistic director of the competition, said: ‘The atmosphere at this year’s competition has been very special. While achieving the highest possible standards, an international mix of competitors have celebrated with each other, learnt from each other and socialised together. They have forged connections which will no doubt last throughout their careers. That was my vision when I established NIIOC in 2011 and those are the qualities we are excited to build on.’


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