Ago National Convention 2006 Chicago, Illinois Convention Reports

The American Organist, October 2006 | Go to article overview

Ago National Convention 2006 Chicago, Illinois Convention Reports


ChicAGO 2006 is now part of AGO history. The convention was virtually a sellout with over 2,000 people present. As evidenced by the evaluations turned in, the convention was a resounding success, and we thank all those responsible for making that happen-our artists, workshop leaders, exhibitors, advertisers, donors, and, of course, all of our friends and colleagues who came from around the world to be with us. We hope you found new ideas to take home, heard new performers you did not know, reconnected with longtime friends, and found many new ones. If this was your first national convention (there were over 400 of you), we especially hope you found this time to be memorable and welcoming, and we look forward to seeing you at many more conventions. As you read the following impressions of the convention, we hope they will bring back many fond memories if you were here, and for those of you who were unable to be with us, we hope you will gain a sense of what an exciting time was had by all and some of the glorious music that was heard throughout the week.

RONALD VANDERWEST, Coordinator

ChicAGO 2006 National Convention

National Competition in Organ Improvisation

The ninth National Competition in Organ Improvisation was held at St. James Episcopal Cathedral. Five semifinalists were chosen from 19 preliminary-round recordings. Judges for the preliminary round were Justin Bischof, Marianne Ploger, and Bruce Shultz. Five semifinalists emerged from the recorded round: Steven Ball, Vincent Carr, John Karl Hirten, David J. Hughes, and Tom Trenney.

Members of the audience and the judges were treated to some stunning music making during the semifinal round, which took place on Saturday afternoon, July 1. Competitors improvised on chant, hymn, and chorale themes, as well as on original themes composed by Richard Proulx. Judges for the semifinal and final rounds were James Biery, director of music at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minn.; Sophie-Véronique Cauchefer-Choplin, recitalist and improviser, now titular of Saint-Jean-Baptiste de la Salle and co-titular of Saint-Sulpice in Paris; and Hans Davidsson, professor of organ at the Eastman School of Music and visiting professor of organ at the Hochschule fur Künste in Bremen, Germany.

The three finalists chosen to compete in the final round on Monday evening were Vincent Carr, John Karl Hirten, and Tom Trenney. The first prize of $2,000, provided by the Holtkamp Organ Company, was awarded to Tom Trenney, CAGO, director of music and organist at the First Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Mich. The second prize of $1,500, provided by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, was awarded to Vincent Carr, a graduate organ student at Yale University's Institute of Sacred Music, where he studies with Martin Jean. For the first time in the history of this competition an audience prize of $1,000 was awarded, provided by David and Robin Arcus and McNeil Robinson. Mr. Trenney was the recipient of this prize.

A 30-page souvenir booklet prepared by the NCOI Committee, an innovation of this year's competition, was made available to those attending the semifinal and/or final rounds. This booklet includes a history of the NCOI competition, competition criteria, the semifinalists' biographies and photographs, judges for all rounds, specifications of the Austin/Skinner organ at St. James Cathedral, statements from the prize donors, and lists of NCOI committees, previous judges, and composers. In addition, the booklet contains 14 pages of themes used in past competitions, a valuable resource for those preparing to enter future competitions. Organists entering the 2008 competition will receive copies of this booklet.

The National Competition in Organ Improvisation wishes to acknowledge and thank the following individuals for their gracious support of the competition: Richard Proulx for providing original themes; Bruce Barber, organist-choirmaster, and staff of St. …

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