While decidedly fewer in number than competitions in organ performance, there are still a few improvisation competitions that take place. Below are brief descriptions of different competitions with links to the competition website for more information.
The competition in improvisation consists of a pre-selection recorded round, two live eliminatory rounds (¼ finals and ½ finals) and a final round. The final round will take place on the great organ in Chartres Notre-Dame Cathedral. The competition takes place every four years with the next one anticipated to be in 2016.
The Haarlem International Organ Competition takes place every year in July and is open to organists under the age of 40. A pre-selection recorded round selects eight applicants to compete live in two elimination rounds. The final competition will take place on the Müller organ (1738 / IIIP / 62) in St Bavo’s Church.
The American Guild of Organists National Competition in Organ Improvisation takes place every other year during the national convention of the American Guild of Organists. The competition is open to all organists regardless of age or citizenship.
Porter studied organ at Oberlin College and Yale University where he received the DMA degree in 1980. He taught harpsichord and organ at Oberlin from 1974 to 1986 and taught organ, music history and music theory at the New England Conservatory in Boston from 1985 to 2002. He has also taught organ improvisation at the Eastman School of Music and McGill University.
Vidas Pinkevicius graduated from the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre in Vilnius with Bachelor‘s and Master’s degree in Organ Performance. He also holds Master’s degree from the Eastern Michigan University (USA) under Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra. He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (USA) with the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Organ Performance. At UNL, he defended his DMA dissertation on Improvisation of Keyboard Preludes in the Style of J.S. Bach.
“To be a good improviser one must have acquired not only a sure and supple technique but a knowledge of harmony, counterpoint and fugue, and familiarity with plainsong, composition and orchestration.” – Marcel Dupré
Here I propose to provide some of the tools necessary to help organists begin to study and work towards mastering the art of improvisation. Video and audio examples will be posted as well as exercises and themes to practice.