Creating a platform for great young talent.

The Northern Ireland International Organ Competition for organists aged 21 and under. The Competition offers substantial monetary prizes, prestigious recital opportunities and masterclasses with leading organists across the globe. We created the competition to discover great young talent and give them a platform to show everyone what they can do. Founded in 2011 our competition continues to grow year on year as we attract top organists from the UK & Ireland and beyond. For more on our past winners click here


Our Patrons


Mark Duley

Mark Duley was born in New Zealand, and studied at Auckland University, the North German Organ Academy and Amsterdam’s Sweelinck Conservatorium, where he was an organ pupil of Jacques van Oortmerssen. He came to Ireland in 1992 as Organist and Director of Music at Christ Church Cathedral Dublin, a post he held for eleven years. He was also founder-director of the Irish Baroque Orchestra.

Mark now pursues a busy freelance career both in Ireland and further afield. As conductor and organist he has appeared with all the major Irish ensembles, including his own acclaimed chamber choir Resurgam. Mark is one of Ireland’s most well-known choral specialists, and has led workshops and masterclasses for choirs and conductors in Ireland, the UK, and continental Europe. He has acted as adjudicator at all the major Irish competitions and festivals, and has given organ recitals in many venues around the world from Ireland to his native New Zealand.  Mark holds the posts of Chorusmaster to the RTÉ Philharmonic Choir and Artistic Director of Pipeworks, and is Organist of the Collegiate Church of St Nicholas, Galway.

David Hill

Widely known as one of the leading choral directors in the UK, David Hill’s fine musicianship is recognised by his appointments as Chief Conductor of the BBC Singers, Musical Director of the Bach Choir, Music Director of the Southern Sinfonia, Music Director of the Leeds Philharmonic Society and Associate Guest Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. David is the Artistic Director of the Charles Wood Summer School in Armagh.

Born in Carlisle, he was educated at Chetham’s School of Music, of which he is now a Governor. Having been Organ Scholar at St John’s College, Cambridge, David Hill returned to hold the post of Director of Music from 2004-2007. His past appointments have included Master of the Music at Winchester Cathedral and at Westminster Cathedral. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Southampton for Services to Music. David’s broad-ranging discography, covering repertoire from Thomas Tallis to Judith Bingham, has earned him much critical acclaim and a number of major awards. 

James O'Donnell

James O'Donnell is Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey. He has developed an international reputation as an organist, having given recitals in Britain, Europe, the United States and Australasia, as well as having made solo appearances at the Proms and broadcast many times on BBC Radio 3. In 1987 he won first prize in the Competition for the Royal College of Organists’ Performer of the Year award. He has worked as a conductor with many distinguished groups, including the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Florilegium, the BBC Singers, the City of London Sinfonia and the Hanover Band.

He has appeared as a soloist and continuo player in recordings and concerts with many leading period-instrument ensembles, notably the King’s Consort and the Gabrieli Consort and Players. In 1997 he was appointed Professor of Organ at the Royal Academy of Music, where he also lectures in church music studies. He has served on the Council of the Royal College of Organists for ten years and is now President Elect of that organisation.


Gillian Morrow - Honorary Member

Gillian Morrow is a graduate of Queen’s University, Belfast, and the Guildhall School of Music where she studied voice. She taught music and languages from 1983-1990, alongside a busy recital and concert schedule as a mezzo-soprano. In 1990 she changed career, becoming a Director at Morrow Communications - one of Ireland’s largest public relations and communications firms.  Since then, she has worked with many organisations, helping them develop and deliver communications strategies, both internally and externally.

Gillian remains actively involved in musical circles in Northern Ireland. She has been a presenter and contributor across BBC Radio Ulster’s classical music content. She has also adjudicated prestigious competitions, including Northern Ireland Young Musician of the Year.  Gillian was a board member and Vice Chair of Belfast Music Society (1994-2006), ensuring its place at the forefront of chamber music provision internationally. 

As founding Secretary of the Northern Ireland International Organ Competition (2011-2016) Gillian worked tirelessly alongside Chair, Richard Yarr, in its establishment as the leading global competition of its kind for organists aged 21 and under.



Dame Gillian Weir

Through her unique career as an internationally acclaimed concert organist, performing worldwide at the major festivals and with leading orchestras and conductors, Gillian Weir has become established as a distinguished musician known for her virtuosity and integrity; her reputation extending well beyond the world of the organ.  Her renown as a performer, which has stimulated numerous young players to follow her, is backed by her scholarly reputation; she is in demand as an adjudicator for the leading international competitions and as lecturer, broadcaster, teacher and writer, while her television appearances have reached vast new audiences.

Gillian Weir has received many prizes, awards and honours, and in the 1996 New Year’s Honours List was created Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in recognition of her services to music, having been made CBE in 1989. She is the Prince Consort Professor of Organ at the Royal College of Music, London, and Distinguished Visiting Artist at the Peabody Conservatory of Music, Baltimore USA, and is sought after for her master classes and as Artist-in-Residence.

The NIIOC Board

Richard Yarr (Founder & Chair)

Sheelagh Greer (Secretary)

Nigel McClintock

Ian Keatley

Roger Nesbitt

Clare Stevens