|American Guild Of Organists Names Prize Winners In National Competition In Organ Improvisation
NEW YORK CITY - The AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS (AGO) is pleased to announce First, Second, and Third Prize winners in the National Competition in Organ Improvisation (NCOI), held in Seattle, Wash. in conjunction with the AGO National Convention, July 2-6:
JUSTIN H. BISCHOF
provided by the Holtkamp Organ Company
ERNEST C. OELKERS
provided by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Ltd.
ROBERT NICHOLLS, AAGO
provided by Mary Louise Herrick
JUSTIN H. BISCHOF, a native of Toronto, Ontario and resident of New York City, is an active performer and improviser, having performed in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Dr. Bischof is a graduate of Loyola High School in Montreal (1985), and completed the Bachelor of Music, Master of Music, and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees at the Manhattan School of Music, where he was a student of John Walker and McNeil Robinson. As a Manhattan student, he twice received the Claire Coci Award. Dr. Bischof is director of music and organist at the Church of the Resurrection, New York City, and organist at the Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, N.Y. In 1999, he was appointed adjunct professor of music history and adviser at Barnard College and professor of music theory at the Manhattan School of Music. He previously served on the faculties of the Mannes College of Music and the Nightingale-Bamford School. As a chamber musician, Dr. Bischof has performed in hundreds of concerts over the last decade. He has worked regularly with the Orchestra of St. Luke's as organist, pianist, and harpsichordist. In 1998, he was a semifinalist in the AGO NCOI. This past summer, he was a performer at the AGO Region II Convention, as well as serving as an adjudicator for the Region II Competition for Young Organists. Dr. Bischof serves on the executive board of the New York City AGO Chapter and is a former dean of the Manhattan School of Music AGO Chapter. He has made three tours of Europe, performing in such venues as St. Paul's Cathedral, London, and the Tonhalle, Zurich. Justin Bischof can be heard on several recordings. His latest recording (Ethereal) includes the premiere of Aaron Miller's Concerto for Two Organists with organist Ken Cowan and the Zurich Symphony Orchestra.
ERNEST C. OELKERS, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and resident of Lawrence, Kans., studied organ, piano, and harpsichord with Richard Grieg, Conrad Grimes, and Lawrence Ritchey. He served as organist for various churches there until being appointed organist and choirmaster at St. Mary's Cathedral in 1986. In 1992, Mr. Oelkers began organ studies at the University of Kansas, and received his undergraduate degree from that institution in 1996. At the same time he served as organist and choir director for the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center. From 1993 to 1998, Mr. Oelkers was director of music at the First Congregational Church in Topeka. In October of 1998, he was appointed principal organist at Village Presbyterian Church. In addition to his duties as a church musician, Ernest Oelkers is active as a recitalist, having given numerous performances in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. He is currently pursuing graduate study in music at the University of Kansas.
ROBERT NICHOLLS, AAGO, a native of England and resident of Evansville, Ind., began his musical training as a chorister at Westminster Abbey under the direction of Simon Preston. Following secondary education as a music scholar at the Oundle School, he was admitted to Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, as a choral exhibitioner. After completing his bachelor of arts degree, he remained in Cambridge to sing with the choir of St. John's College under the direction of Christopher Robinson. In 1996, Mr. Nicholls joined the staff of the First Presbyterian Church, Evansville, Ind., and is currently director of music at the church. He now holds the master of arts degree from Cambridge University, and is actively involved with the RSCM in America program.
The AGO NATIONAL COMPETITION IN ORGAN IMPROVISATION seeks to further the art of improvisation by recognizing and rewarding superior performers in the field. The competition was open to all members, regardless of age, of the AGO or Royal Canadian College of Organists (RCCO). Seven Semifinalists were selected from the Preliminary, Tape Round; three were chosen for the Final Round. For both the Semifinal and Final Rounds, each competitor was required to (1) improvise, in any form, based on a given free theme; and (2) improvise in the form of a Theme and Variations, based on a given hymn tune, chant, or chorale. Judges for the Semifinal and Final Rounds were Bruce Neswick, David Hurd, and Susan Ferré.
The AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS is the national professional association serving the organ and choral music fields. Founded in 1896 as both an educational and service organization, the AGO seeks to set and maintain high musical standards and to promote understanding and appreciation of all aspects of organ and choral music. The mission of the AGO is to promote the organ in its historic and evolving roles, to encourage excellence in the performance of organ and choral music, and to provide a forum for mutual support, inspiration, education, and certification of Guild members. The Guild currently serves more than 20,000 members in 343 local chapters throughout the United States and abroad.
This information is submitted by F. Anthony Thurman, Director of Development and Communications at the National Headquarters of the American Guild of Organists and the American Organist Magazine. For further information, please contact Dr. Thurman by TEL (212) 870-2310, FAX (212) 870-2163 or E-MAIL email@example.com.