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Northern Ireland International Organ Competition


Patrons: Mark Duley, David Hill, James O'Donnell, Dame Gillian Weir

Westminster Abbey

The 2014 Competition - Monday 18 to Wednesday 20 August

Large Prize Funds, Major Performance Opportunities, Professional Recordings, Travel Bursaries and New Own Choice Intermediate and Junior Categories

The Northern Ireland International Organ Competition, for organists aged 21 and under, will take place in Armagh between Monday 18th and Wednesday 20th August 2014, alongside the prestigious Charles Wood Summer School.

Major recital opportunities (including Westminster Abbey) and prize funds (totalling over £2000), once again feature this year, as well as travel bursaries for competitors outside of the UK and Ireland.
Frédéric Blanc, international recitalist, teacher and Organist at Notre-Dame of Auteuil Church in Paris, will chair the jury, along with David Hill, organist and Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers, and the internationally acclaimed Irish organist of Cork Cathedral, Malcolm Wisener.
In addition to chairing the jury, Frédéric Blanc will also lead a master class for organists and host a programming and presentation workshop.
Frédéric Blanc
Frederic Blanc
Following his studies at the Conservatoires of Toulouse and Bordeaux Frédéric Blanc became a pupil of André Fleury in Paris and Marie-Madeleine Duruflé, of whom he became a faithful disciple.
As a prizewinner of important international competitions (Grand Prix de Chartres 2nd prize in 1996 and the Grand Prix in the International Competition of the City of Paris in 1997), he began his career as an international recitalist, improviser and teacher which took him all over Europe and to the USA where he lectures at the most prestigious universities.
In his recordings (released by EMI, Aeolus, Motette, Baroque Notes) we see his affinity with the school of French organ music and his discs devoted entirely to improvisation have all met with international critical acclaim.
He is also author of a study devoted to André Fleury (L’Orgue – cahiers et mémoires), a work dedicated to the memories and writings of Maurice Duruflé (Ed. Séguier, Paris) and numerous transcriptions of Pierre Cochereau’s improvisations (Ed. Butz).
Between 1987 and 1995 he was assistant organist at the Basilica of St. Sernin in Toulouse. Since 1999 Frédéric Blanc has been the Organiste Titulaire of the large Cavaillé-Coll organ in the church of Notre-Dame of Auteuil in Paris : one of the most beautiful symphonic organs in the capital. He is also musical director of the Association of Maurice and Marie-Madeleine Duruflé.


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2013 Competition Highlights

Northern Ireland International Organ Competition in its third successful year


Talented young organists were in Armagh this week to compete in the third annual Northern Ireland International Organ Competition (NIIOC) for a prize pot of £2000, outstanding performance opportunities and a recording of their concert programme. In its third year, NIIOC has firmly established itself as one of the leading platforms for rising talent in the organ world.


The winner of the senior category was 18 year old Richard Gowers, an organ scholar at Eton College, Windsor. His programme included the rarely performed Trio Sonata by his grandfather Patrick Gowers as well as a Bach Chorale and La Chasse by Widor. He takes away a cash prize of £1000, and concert engagements including St. Columb's Cathedral, Londonderry, Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Trinity College Cambridge and Westminster Abbey.



Richard Gowers, 18, organ scholar at Eton College Windsor, the winner of the 2013 Northern Ireland International Organ Competition and Lord Mayor of Armagh Cllr Robert Turner.

CREDIT: LiamMcArdle.com



Mattias Wager, chair of the judging panel, Richard Gowers, winner of the NIIOC, David Hill, judge, Tim Parsons, second prizewinner, Professor Gerard Gillen, judge, Owain Park, third prizewinner and Johannes Skoog, highly commended and winner of the Bach prize.

CREDIT: LiamMcArdle.com


Second prize winner Tim Parsons with Mattias Wager, chair of the judges, and sponsor Rowan Black from Greens Foodfare in Lisburn who sponsored the prize

CREDIT: LiamMcArdle.com



Malcolm Monteith from Cormont music, sponsors of NIIOC 2013;  winner Richard Gowers, organ scholar at Eton College, Windsor; Mattias Wager, chair of the judging panel;  and Stephen Corry, Cormont music. 

CREDIT: LiamMcArdle.com


Highly renowned Irish accompanist Elizabeth Bicker from Spa, Ballynahinch, sponsored the Bach Prize in the 2013 Northern Ireland International Organ Competition.  She is pictured with the winner, Johannes Skoog, a student at the Royal College of Music Stockholm who was also highly commended for his playing.

CREDIT: LiamMcArdle.com





Pictured at the organ of St Patrick's Cathedral Armagh, Richard Gowers, the winner of the 2013 Northern Ireland International Organ Competition, organ scholar at Eton College Windsor.

CREDIT: LiamMcArdle.com



Richard Gowers, winner of the 2013 Northern Ireland International Organ Competition, organ scholar at Eton College, Windsor, is pictured with Professor Gerard Gillen, left, judge, and David McElderry, right, from Wells Kennedy Partnership in Lisburn, one of the sponsors

CREDIT: LiamMcArdle.com



Competitors received feedback from a judging panel that comprised some of the biggest names in international organ music. Chair, renowned Swedish organist Mattias Wager, was joined by David Hill, chief conductor of the BBC Singers and Professor Emeritus in Music at the National University of Ireland, Gerard Gillen. They were highly impressed by the quality and musicianship shown by competitors and the wide range of music they performed.

NIIOC chair, Richard Yarr, said that he was delighted to welcome top young performers from the UK, Ireland and Sweden this year.

"There is no doubt that NIIOC fills a gap for organists aged 21 and under. Word about our competition is spreading and we are delighted that Northern Ireland is leading the way internationally."

The 2013 Winners

The Competition Jury was made up of Matias Wager (chair), David Hill and Gerard Gillen, and the following were prize winners:

1st Prize

Richard Gowers (Eton College, Windsor)


£1,000 (sponsored by Allen Organs NI)

A Professional CD recording and release

A Professional Online Package


Hosted recitals in: Westminster Abbey, Trinity College Cambridge, Christ Church Cathedral Dublin and St, Anne's Cathedral Belfast

2nd Prize
Tim Parsons (Selwyn College, Cambridge)
3rd Prize
Owain Park (Wells Cathedral)
Bach Prize
Johannes Skoog (Royal College of Music, Stockholm)


Intermediate Category:
1st Prize
Adam Collins (Meath)
£300 (sponsored by Well-Kennedy Partnership, Lisburn)
And a performance opportunity in St.Peter's Cathedral, Belfast


Junior Category:
1st Prize
Astrid Munro (Dublin)
£200 (sponsored by AA Music, Lisburn)

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