Several months ago, I was invited to adjudicate an organ competition for the Salem Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. In preparation for adjudicating this competition, I began studying the repertoire that was to be played by the competitors: the Bach C Major Prelude and Fugue, BWV 547; the Bach Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Major, BWV 552: the Final from Symphony 1 by Vierne; Piece Heroique by Franck; Toccata and Fugue by Emma Lou Diemer; and Gloucester Estampie by Carson Cooman. Formidable, challenging, and tremendously exciting repertoire to be sure and not for the “faint of heart.”
Today I had the pleasure of hearing two competitors play this grand music. And play it they did! Both competitors were well prepared and played with maturity and understanding of the music. It was a great pleasure to hear such playing.
As adjudicators, we were not allowed to see the competitors before or during the competition. Assuming this type of playing would have been presented by an organist nearing the cut-off age of 25, I was astounded when the runner-up and winner stepped forward to receive their prizes!
The runner-up was a young woman of 17 who wants to make a career as an organist. She’s been playing the organ for four years.
And who was the winner? He was a shy young man of 12-years of age who had only been studying organ for two years!
Simply amazing! and truly an inspiration for me to continue my careful thoughtful practice and to recapture that sense of joy in playing the organ that I witnessed in these very young, very talented, very hard-working, very dedicated organists today! What a thrill!!
Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist