Everything you need to know about the 2019 Northern Ireland International Organ Competition


The Competition Categories & Prizes

For rules and conditions click here
For entry forms click here


Senior Competition - Post-grade 8

Venue: St Patricks Cathedral

Entry Cost: £50

*Previous winners cannot enter this competition.

Reportoire: Own Choice - A balanced 20-minute programme, consisting of at least three pieces and including a major work of JS Bach (or part of). The programme should also demonstrate stylistic and textural variety, and be of Diploma level.


1st Prize:

£1,500 and promoted recitals at 7 internationally-acclaimed venues –

St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York
Westminster Abbey, London
Westminster Cathedral, London
King’s College, Cambridge
St Michael's Church, Dún Laoghaire
St. Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast
A Royal College of Organists TOSE (Organ Scholar Experience) Recital

2nd Prize:
£500 and promoted recitals at 2 internationally-acclaimed venues

Stockholm Cathedral 
Trinity College, Cambridge

3rd Place:
£200 and promoted recitals at 2 internationally-acclaimed venues

Notre-Dame-d'Auteuil, Paris
Glasgow Cathedral 

Bach Prize:
£200 and a Bach Recital at St Lawrence Jewry, London

Dame Gillian Weir Medal:
This bespoke medal, created by the Belfast School of Art at Ulster University, was commissioned by NIIOC in 2018 to celebrate the exceptional work of our Patron Dame Gillian Weir both as a musician and educator. It will be awarded by the jury, on behalf of Dame Gillian, for the performance of a single work which they consider the most outstanding in the Senior category.


Intermediate Category - Grades 6-8

Venue: St Patricks Cathedral

Entry Cost: £35

Previous winners can enter this competition. Applicants should not have gained an organ diploma.

Reportoire: Own Choice - Please provide a balanced programme of 2-3 pieces, lasting no more than 12 minutes

With a prize recital at St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh

NEW - The Dunleath Organ Scholarship Trust Prize
A £200 prize for the best overall performance by an Irish competitor in the Intermediate category.

The Dunleath Organ Scholarship Trust was established in 1995 in memory of the late Charles Edward Henry John Baron Dunleath (1933-1993) who exercised a valuable influence on organ design and construction in Ireland. The Trust provides support for young organists, resident in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, to enable them to pursue their interest in the organ.

How to enter
No shortlisting recordings are required for the Intermediate and Junior Categories.


Junior Category - Grades 4-5

Venue: St. Malachy's Church

Entry Cost: £35

Previous winners can enter this competition. Applicants should not have Grade 6 organ or above.

Reportoire: Own Choice - Please provide a balanced programme of 2-3 pieces, lasting no more than 8 minutes.


How to enter
No shortlisting recordings are required for the Intermediate and Junior Categories.


The 2019 Jury


Martin Baker

Martin Baker is Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral in London and President of the Royal College of Organists. Born in Manchester in 1967, he studied at the Royal Northern College of Music Junior School, Chetham’s School of Music and Downing College, Cambridge. He held positions at London’s Westminster and St Paul’s Cathedrals, before being appointed to Westminster Abbey at the age of 24.  During his eight years at the Abbey, initially as Sub-Organist and subsequently as Acting Organist and Master of the Choristers, his performances on broadcasts and recordings with the Abbey Choir received wide critical acclaim.

As an organist, Martin Baker is much in demand all over the world.  Performing regularly in the UK, he has recently given concerts in France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Austria, the USA, and Russia.  The winner of the St Alban’s Improvisation competition in 1997, improvisation features regularly in his recital programs. He is also regularly appears on international competition juries. 

Martin Baker is also recognized as a dynamic choral conductor.  Since his appointment to Westminster Cathedral as Master of Music in 2000, the choir has maintained its high profile both in the Roman Catholic Church and in the musical world in general.  He has commissioned and directed the choir in the premieres of a number of new choral masses, including works by composers such as James MacMillan, Peter Maxwell Davies, Judith Bingham and John Tavener. 


Katherine Dienes-Williams

New Zealand-born Katherine Dienes-Williams was appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers at Guildford Cathedral in January 2008 following six years as Director of Music at the Collegiate Church of St. Mary, Warwick. She was the first-ever female member to be elected to the Cathedral Organists’ Association, and on her appointment to Guildford, became the first ever woman to hold such a post in the Church of England.

Katherine was educated in Wellington, New Zealand and studied for a BA in Modern Languages and a BMus at Victoria University, Wellington. Katherine was Organ Scholar at Wellington Cathedral from 1988 to 1991 when she was appointed Assistant Organist there. 

Katherine has won numerous awards for organ playing, including the prestigious New Zealand Gillian Weir Waitangi Scholarship. Katherine came to England in 1991 to take up the post of Organ Scholar at Winchester Cathedral and Assistant Organist at Winchester College. She is a sometime guest tutor for the Royal College of Organists and is regularly asked to be a guest workshop leader for the Royal School of Church Music both in the UK and the USA. During the past sixteen years, Katherine has given several organ recitals in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Germany, U.S.A., Bermuda, the Netherlands, Australia and Singapore. She has performed as organ soloist with both the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and the Hallé. 


David Hill

David Hill is widely known as one of the leading choral directors in the UK. His 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, Associate Guest Conductor of The Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Principal Conductor of Yale Schola Cantorum. He is also artistic director of the Charles Wood Festival and Summer School, Armagh, Northern Ireland.

Born in Carlisle and educated at Chetham’s School of Music, of which he is now a Governor, he was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists at the remarkably young age of 17. 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 other appointments have included Master of the Music at Winchester Cathedral, Master of the Music at Westminster Cathedral and Artistic Director of the Philharmonia Chorus. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Southampton for Services to Music.

David Hill has a broad-ranging discography covering repertoire from Thomas Tallis to a number of world premiere recordings. As well as achieving prestigious Grammy and Gramophone Awards, many of his discs have been recommended as Critic’s Choices. His ongoing series of English choral music for Naxos has received particular acclaim, including being shortlisted for the 2010 Gramophone Awards. He is also well known as an orchestral conductor in the UK and beyond.

The Venues

The Organ of St Patrick's (C of I) Cathedral, Armagh

St. Malachy's Church Organ, Armagh