Jacob Benda, Aaron Tan and John Woolsey were the three finalists chosen to compete on Saturday, March 13, 2010. The competition was held at First Baptist Church, Huntsville, Alabama, on the church's 76 rank Casavant organ. Candidates for the competition were chosen through a semi-final recorded round, and are all under the age of 25.
Judges for the final round were Dr. Jeff McClelland, of Independent Presbyterian Church, Birmingham; Dr. Michael Velting, of Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville; and Andrew Risinger, Nashville Symphony Organist. Mr. Paul Jacobs, Professor and Chair of the Organ Department at Juilliard, served as moderator for the judges’ panel, and also played a recital the evening preceding the competition.
First place was awarded to Aaron Tan, and second place to Jacob Benda. Mr. Tan is a student of David Palmer, University of Windsor Ontario, and winner of the 2009 RCCO National Organ Playing competition. Mr. Benda is finishing his master's degree in Organ Performance at Louisiana State University where he studies with Herndon Spillman.
Special thanks goto First Baptist Church, specifically Dr. Elizabeth Hostetter, for hosting this event, to the Huntsville Chapter of the American Guild of Organists for their leadership, to HCMG for sponsorship of Mr. Jacobs, and to the Milnar and Miller Organ companies for their contributions to the cash prize.
Region IV of the American Guild of Organists covers the Southeastern United States and Bermuda, including the states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Eastern Louisiana. There are seven districts, 58 local chapters, and over 3,000 members. Our work supports the mission of the Guild: To promote the organ in its historic and evolving roles, to encourage excellence in the performance of organ and choral music, and to provide forum for mutual support, inspiration, education, and certification of Guild members.
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