Taking a look back at the 2019 competition...

Ivan-Bogdan Reincke from Hungary wins Northern Ireland Organ Competition 2019

Ivan-Bogdan Reincke, 21, from Hungary has won first prize in the Northern Ireland International Organ Competition (NIIOC), held at St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh, on Monday 19 August 2019. Reincke is a student at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. His winning performance began with JS Bach’s Prelude in D major BWV 532, included works by Schubert and Vierne and finished with Olivier Messiaen’s spectacular ‘Transports de joie’ from L’Ascension.

The first prize is sponsored by an anonymous donor and includes a £1,500 award and seven public recitals in venues such as St Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York, Westminster Abbey, King’s College, Cambridge, and St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast. Commenting on his success, Reincke said: ‘I'm incredibly happy. I didn't think I had a chance of first place, as everyone played so well. I'm really looking forward to the recitals on the renowned organs. I will also use the prize money to finance the cost of my studies.’

Second prize in the senior section of the competition, sponsored by Wells-Kennedy Organ Partnership, Lisburn, was awarded to James Anderson-Besant, 20, from Oxfordshire, Junior Organ Scholar at St John’s College Cambridge. His programme included Duruflé’s ‘Prélude sur le nom d’Alain’ and the final from Widor’s sixth organ symphony, as well as JS Bach’s Prelude in E minor BWV 548. The prize includes public recitals in Stockholm and Cambridge.

Third prize, including recitals in Paris and Glasgow, went to Joshua Hughes, 20, a student at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, for a programme consisting of JS Bach’s Fantasia in G minor BWV 541, Reger’s ‘Invocation’ and another performance of Messiaen’s ‘Transports de joie’. Killian Homburg (Germany) and Jonathan Lee (Australia) were highly commended.

The Dame Gillian Weir Medal, awarded for a performance of one work which the chair of the jury considers to be the most outstanding in the senior category of the competition and sponsored by Allen Organs NI, was awarded to Julia Raasch, 21, a student of the Franz Liszt University of Music in Weimar, Germany, for her performance of Reger’s Toccata in A minor from Zwölf Stücke. The medal has been designed by Declan Coyle and this is the second year it has been awarded.

The Bach Prize for a performance of a work by JS Bach went to Killian Homburg, 18, of the University of Music and Theatre, Leipzig, Germany, who played the Vivace from Bach’s Sonata No. 3 in D minor, MWV 527 as well as works by Widor and Guillou.

This is the ninth year of the NIIOC, which is open to organists under the age of 21 on the closing date for entries. It attracted competitors from six European countries and, for the first time, from the USA and Australia as well as England and Scotland. The jury was chaired by Martin Baker, Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral, London. He was joined by Katherine Dienes-Williams, Organist and Master of Choristers at Guildford cathedral, Surrey, and David Hill, Musical Director of the Bach Choir, London, Principal Conductor of the Yale Schola Cantorum, Connecticut, USA, and Artistic Director of the Charles Wood Summer School, Armagh, which runs concurrently with the organ competition.

The intermediate category of NIIOC 2019, sponsored by Mr John Miley, Organ Club of Great Britain, took place on Tuesday 20 August, also in St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, and was won by Julian Becker, 14 from Germany. He played the Preludio from Guilmant’s Organ Sonata No 3 Op 59 and the Toccata from Duruflé’s Suite Op. 5. Second place went to Kamilla Levai, 21, from Hungary and third place to Chiara Perneker, 17, from Germany.

The junior category, sponsored by Mr Alasdair MacLaughlin, took place in St Malachy’s Roman Catholic Church, Armagh. It was won by Adam Suk, 14, from Pardubice, Czech Republic, who played JS Bach, Mozart and David German. Gergö Kiss, 12, from Györ, Hungary, was highly commended.

Reflecting on her experience of being part of the competition jury, Katherine Dienes-Williams said: ‘It was a huge privilege to listen to so many astonishingly talented young performers, all of whom demonstrated a clear love of both the organ and its repertoire. The judges faced many difficult choices, but were unanimous in their thinking and were delighted to award the Dame Gillian Weir Medal to Julia Raasch for her breath-taking performance of Reger. From the first notes we were captivated by the energy and excitement she created within her performance, whilst we were only too aware not only of the technical mastery she displayed but also her tremendous skill in coaxing the organ through many registration and dynamic changes to produce a performance full of romanticism, fire, passion and joy in abundance. Our first place winner, Bogdan Reincke, chose a beautifully contrasting programme of works, throughout which he crafted every note with musicality. His own musicianship resounded so clearly throughout all of his performances – it is always so exciting as a listener to hear this level of communicative interpretation conveyed so convincingly through such masterful playing. His programme was an utter delight to listen to and he was indeed a very worthy first place winner who will no doubt go on to delight audiences through the performance opportunities he is offered as part of his prize.’

Ivan-Bogdan Reincke (21), from Hungary, is a student at the Franz Liszt Academy Budapest. He taught himself the piano at the age of 14 and later studied violin at the Béla Bartók music school in Vác. He has been studying the organ since 2013. Bogdan has taken part in organ masterclasses with some of the world's leading teachers, and has enjoyed two study periods in France. These included performances at St. Sulpice and Notre Dame. In his spare time, he enjoys painting, jazz piano and electronic music. He also plays string quartets and trios with his siblings.

The Northern Ireland International Organ Competition is for organists under the age of 21. It offers substantial monetary prizes, prestigious recital opportunities and masterclasses with leading organists across the globe. Founded in 2011, from the outset it has attracted exceptionally gifted young players; early winners Ben Comeau, Ben Bloor, Richard Gowers and Andrew Forbes are already establishing successful careers.

PHOTO CREDIT LiamMcArdle.com

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