AGO National Competition in Organ Improvisation
The National Competition in Organ Improvisation seeks to further the art of improvisation by recognizing and rewarding superior performance in the field. A flourishing tradition of improvisation is fundamental to a truly vital musical culture.
The competition is open to all organists regardless of age or citizenship. First-place winners of a previous NCOI are not eligible. The NCOI occurs biennially and commences with a recorded Preliminary Round. The Semifinal Round was held at the 2015 AGO Regional Convention in Charlotte, NC ; the Final Round was held in conjunction with the AGO 2016 National Convention in Houston.
Prizes: First Place – $3,000, funded by McNeil Robinson, a CD recording on the Pro Organo label; Second Place – $2,000, funded by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders; Third Place – $1,500, funded by Pamela and Steven Ruiter-Feenstra; Audience prize – $1,500, funded by David and Robin Arcus. The 2018 NCOI Rules will be published in the October-16 issue of THE AMERICAN ORGANIST. You may also request information from AGO Headquarters.
2016 NCOI Winners
Three finalists were chosen at the 2015 NCOI semifinals held July 1, 2015 at the Charlotte SE Regional Convention. The three organists below traveled to Houston, Texas for the NCOI final round that was held June 21, 2016 at Christ Church Cathedral (Houston). Thomas Dahl, was awarded 1st Place and the Audience Prize, Matt Gender was awarded 2nd Place, and Kalle Toivio was awarded 3rd Place.
2016 First Place
Thomas Dahl studied church music, composition, music pedagogy, musicology and organ performance in Hamburg, Stuttgart and Paris. He studied organ improvisation with Heinz Wunderlich, Willibald Bezler and Daniel Roth. He also received private instructions from Wolfgang Rubsam and Jean Guillou. In six international organ-playing and improvisation competitions he has been a prize winner or finalist. Thomas is Director of Music at Hauptkirche St. Petri in Hamburg and conductor of the Hamburg Bach Choir. He has given recitals, lectures and masterclasses in Europe, the United States and Japan.
A special note to chapters—hosting an AGO competition winner is the perfect chapter event! For more information, contact AGO Headquarters.
In October 2014, Thomas Dahl was given several suggested themes from the audience for a possible improvisation. This is an improvisation on a theme offered by Philadelphia composer Chuck Holdeman.
Past NCOI Winners
2014 Patrick Scott First Place and Audience Prize
2012 Robert Nicholls First Place
2010 David Baskeyfield First Place and Audience Prize
2008 Jason Roberts First Place
2006 Tom Trenney First Place and Audience Prize
2004 Luke Mayernik First Place
2002 Peter Krasinski First Place
2000 Justin Bischof First Place
1998 John Schwandt First Place
1996 NOT AWARDED
1994 Jeffrey Brillhart First Place
1992 Ronald Stolk First Place
1990 Bruce Neswick First Place