Edinburgh to host IAO/RCO 2020 playing competition for young organists

Edinburgh to host IAO/RCO 2020 playing competition for young organists

The Incorporated Association of Organists (IAO) and the Royal College of Organists (RCO) have announced details of the IAO/RCO Organ Playing Competition 2020 for young organists.

The competition, which ran for the first time in 2018, is open to organists aged from 18 to 26 years. Under the joint artistic direction of Gerard Brooks and John Kitchen, RCO and IAO Presidents respectively, it will be held during the 2020 IAO Music Festival in Edinburgh.

As well as a first prize of £1,000, and second and third prizes of £500 and £200 respectively, it will also offer prizewinners recital opportunities at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster, the University of Edinburgh, St Chad’s Cathedral, Birmingham, and at a future RCO event.

Gerard Brooks said: “We are delighted to be taking the IAO/RCO Organ Playing Competition to Edinburgh in 2020. The first competition in Peterborough in 2018 attracted interest from brilliant young organists around the world, so we are excited to be able to build on such a strong start.”

The competition will take place in St Cuthbert’s Church, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle at the west end of Princes Street, using its versatile four-manual organ (Hope-Jones (1899); Hill, Norman & Beard (1928); and JW Walker (1957, 1998, 2002); with the concept of the present organ, including its separate chancel / gallery sections and much of the pipework, dating from a major rebuild in 1998).

Six competitors will be chosen from recordings to participate in the semi-final round. The semi-finals will be held on Saturday 25 July, with performances required to include a work by Louis Vierne, the 150th anniversary of whose birth is in 2020. From there, three competitors will be selected to go through to the final, which will take place on Sunday 26 July.

The adjudicators will be Gerard Brooks (RCO President and Director of Music at Methodist Central Hall, Westminster), John Kitchen MBE (IAO President, Edinburgh City and University Organist and Director of Music at Old Saint Paul's Episcopal Church, and organist and composer Naji Hakim.

Competitors must be no younger than 18 and no older than 26 on 1 July 2020, and the closing date for entries is Saturday 29 February 2020 at 13:00. For all details, including the application form, please visit www.rco.org.uk/events/organ-competition-2020

John Kitchen said: “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.”

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