Derry church organ to resonate in international competition

The organ at Christ Church in Derry is to be put through its paces in a simultaneous series of free lunchtime recitals, called Northern Ireland Resounds, to celebrate 10 years of the International Organ Competition in Derry. Northern Ireland (NIIOC) at 1:15 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5.

The Derry concert, alongside others in each of the six northern counties, will feature top prize winners from the past 10 years from Germany, Hungary and Russia as well as the UK.

The recitals are dedicated to the memory of the late Lisburn organ builder, David McElderry, former Managing Director of the Wells-Kennedy Partnership, who lovingly maintained the organs featured in the performances as well as the Guildhall organ.

There will also be a gala recital at Belfast Cathedral on Wednesday 6 April (7.30pm) featuring the ten first prize winners.
Another gala performance will take place at Southwark Cathedral in London on March 28 (7.30pm).

The Belfast Cathedral Evening Gala Concert will be introduced by Father Eugene O’Hagan of the singing group The Priests.

2013 Senior Laureate Richard Gowers will also premiere at NI a work by Grace-Evangeline Mason, specially composed for the NIIOC and the Commission for Victims and Survivors for Northern Ireland. It is dedicated to all those who have been affected by the ‘problems’ of Northern Ireland.

The NIIOC was born out of demand from local organists who wanted to encourage, challenge and recognize the talents of young performers in a competitive environment. It quickly established itself as one of the main international platforms for committed young organists and emerging talent.

Richard Yarr, Founder and President of NIIOC, said, “We are very proud that NIIOC has been a true pioneer, changing the organ landscape locally and internationally. Competitors from Australia, the United States, China and all over Europe travel to the beautiful cathedral city of Armagh every August to perform at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Ireland.

“We are delighted to celebrate our first ten years with these very special concerts featuring ten young organists who are such great ambassadors for the king of instruments and for our competition. The NIIOC is high on their resumes and I know these events will offer something for everyone.

Renowned conductor and organist Dr. David Hill serves on the jury each year and is also patron of the competition.

Commenting on its development over the past decade, he said, “The NIIOC has gained increasing respect internationally as a competition to launch the careers of young organists.

“I am impressed with what has been achieved and the level of play we have listened to over the past ten years. What a beautiful tribute to bring together the illustrious winners to celebrate ten exceptional competitions.

Martha J. Finley