Rhinegold Photo credit: Courtesy St Cuthbert's Church
St Cuthbert's versatile four-manual organ, built in 1899 by Robert Hope-Jones

Harriet Clifford

IAO-RCO Organ Playing Competition entries open

11:57, 17th October 2019

Entries for the IAO-RCO Organ Playing Competition 2020 are now open.

The competition – for organists aged 18-26 – will be held in St Cuthbert’s Church, Edinburgh, during the IAO Music Festival 2020. A 1st prize of £1,000 is on offer, with 2nd and 3rd prizes of £500 and £200 respectively. Prize-winners will also be offered recital opportunities at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, the University of Edinburgh, St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham, and at a future RCO event.

Organists aged 18-26 on 1 July 2020 are invited to apply by sending a recording of 7-10 minutes, which must include one of J.S. Bach’s trio movements. Six competitors will then be chosen by a panel of adjudicators to participate in the semi-final at St Cuthbert’s on 25 July; repertoire will include a work by Louis Vierne, marking his 150th anniversary in 2020. Three competitors will be chosen to go through to the final on 26 July.

St Cuthbert’s has a versatile four-manual organ, built in 1899 by Robert Hope-Jones; it has since undergone a restoration by Hill, Norman & Beard (1928) and a rebuild by J.W. Walker & Sons (1956-57), who also undertook a major reconstruction in 1997-98, which concept now prevails.

The competition – a joint endeavour of the Incorporated Association of Organists (IAO) and the Royal College of Organists (RCO) – was first held in Peterborough in 2018. The 2020 event will be under the artistic direction of RCO and IAO presidents Gerard Brooks and John Kitchen, who are joined on the jury by Naji Hakim.

Kitchen told C&O, ‘Competitions provide an important focus and opportunity for musicians, so I would encourage any ambitious young organist to take part in 2020. I am looking forward immensely to hearing for myself the quality and breadth of talent that comes forward.’

Deadline: 29 February 2020.

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