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14 Teen Organists to Compete at OCU Feb. 7
Record Number of Teen Pipe Organists To Compete Feb. 7 at OCU’s Chapel Teenage organists from 11 states will convene at Oklahoma City University Feb. 7 to compete for more than $3,000 in prize money at the 4th Annual Junior/Senior High School Organ Competition. A record field of 14 organists are traveling from as far away as California and Virginia to compete in the event, one of a handful of U.S. competitions designed for organists in grades six through 12. It is sponsored by OCU’s Bass School of Music and by the Oklahoma City chapter of the American Guild of Organists. The Saturday competition begins at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 7, at the Bishop W. Angie Smith Chapel. Admission is free and open to the public. The winner will be awarded $1,500 and a 7 p.m. recital performance with Dr. Timothy Olsen, OCU’s Wanda L. Bass Chair of Organ. “This is very exciting,” said Olsen, OCU’s university organist. “We have a lot of talented young organists competing. It’d be great if this excitement about the organ would continue to grow throughout the community.” Olsen touted the success of winners of the OCU competition, which began in 2006. “The first year’s winner was an eighth grader, Samuel Gaskin, who has gone on to make a name for himself participating and placing in national and international competitions. He’s kind of a star among young organists. The person who won second place that year, Ben Blasingame, has gone on to study organ at Interlochen Arts Academy, and is now a freshman at the Eastman School of Music, one of the country’s premiere organ programs. “The first prize winner in 2007, Brent te Velde, is now an organ major at Trinity University in San Antonio, and has won another major competition in San Antonio,” Olsen said. “Last year’s first prize winner, Autumn Coe, is now a home-schooled senior, and is auditioning at several major organ programs around the country, including OCU.” Contestants will perform two contrasting works from the following: A Bach Prelude & Fugue (including the “8 Little”), Toccata & Fugue, Fantasy & Fugue, or at least two movements from a trio sonata or concerto; and a contrasting work from the 19th, 20th, or 21st centuries. All competitors must also lead the singing of a hymn, consisting of an introduction and three stanzas with appropriate registration, reharmonizations, descants, or other embellishments. Olsen said the competition’s aim is to give young organists “a chance to learn standard organ repertoire and hymn playing and to be able to compete with that repertoire while hearing other organists of their age play similar music. I also hope that they’ll enjoy the camaraderie of other kids their own age who work hard and enjoy playing the organ like they do.” For more information about the competition, or the pipe organ or church programs at Oklahoma City University, visit or contact Olsen at; (405) 208-5013.