Down Cathedral Organ To Play In Northern Ireland Resound

Down Cathedral to resound As NI International Organ Competition celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Down Cathedral to resound As NI International Organ Competition celebrates its 10th anniversary.

Down Cathedral organ will be put through its paces as part of a simultaneous series of free lunchtime recitals, called Northern Ireland Resound.

It will celebrate 10 years of the Northern Ireland International Organ Competition (NIIOC) on Tuesday 5 April 2022 (1.15 pm).

The Downpatrick concert, alongside others in each of the six counties of Northern Ireland, will feature first prize winners from the last 10 years from Germany, Hungary, and Russia as well as the UK.

Richard Yarr Michael McCracken, Father Eugene O’Hagan.

These recitals are dedicated to the memory of the Lisburn organ builder the late David McElderry, former MD of Wells-Kennedy Partnership, who lovingly maintained the organs featured in the performances.

There will also be a gala recital at Belfast Cathedral on Wednesday 6 April (7.30pm) featuring all ten of its first prize winners. 

And another gala performance at Southwark Cathedral, London on 28 March (7.30pm)
The Belfast Cathedral evening gala concert will be introduced by Fr Eugene O’Hagan of the singing group The Priests.

Richard Gowers, senior prize-winner in 2013, will also give the NI premiere of a work by Grace-Evangeline Mason, specially composed for NIIOC and the Commission for Victims and Survivors for Northern Ireland. It is dedicated to all those touched by the Northern Ireland Troubles.

NIIOC stemmed from the demand of local organists who wanted to encourage, challenge and recognise the talents of young performers in a competitive environment.  It quickly established itself as one of the leading platforms internationally for committed young organists and rising talent.  

Richard Yarr, founder and chair of NIIOC, said: ‘We are very proud that NIIOC has been a proper trailblazer, changing the organ landscape locally and internationally. Competitors from Australia, the US, China and all across Europe have come to the beautiful cathedral city of Armagh each August to perform in St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral.

“We’re thrilled to be celebrating 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. NIIOC takes pride of place on their CVs and I know these events will offer something for everyone.”

Renowned conductor and organist Dr David Hill is on the judging panel every year and is also a Competition patron. Commenting on its development over the past decade he said: “NIIOC has gained an increasing respect internationally as a competition to launch the careers of young organists.  

“I’m in awe of what has been achieved and by the level of playing we have listened to in the past ten years. What a fitting tribute to gather the illustrious prize winners as a way of celebrating ten outstanding competitions.”

Michael McCracken, Richard Yarr, John Leonard, Margaret Cummings, Ann Cassidy, Fr Eugene O’Hagan, Adrian Anderson Monsignor Peter O’Reilly.

The NIIOC anniversary celebrations are sponsored by: The Eric Thompson Charitable Trust; The Flax Trust; The Priests Charitable Trust; Randox Laboratories; The Commission For Victims And Survivors For Northern Ireland; The Earl and Countess Castle Stewart; Mr Neil Shawcross; Mr David Scott; Harrison & Harrison Ltd; The London Organ Competition and Gormley’s Fine Art.


Tuesday 5 April (1.15pm)

The lunchtime recitals are free of charge. Tickets are not required.

They will take place at:

Saint Peter’s Roman Catholic Cathedral, Belfast

Down Cathedral, Downpatrick, Co Down

St Patrick’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, Armagh, Co Armagh

St Michael’s Church, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh

First Presbyterian Church, Omagh, Co Tyrone

Christ Church, Londonderry, Co Londonderry

Ballywillan Presbyterian Church, Portrush, Co Antrim

Belfast Cathedral.

Wednesday 6 April 2022, (7.30pm)

Gala Recital by all 10 Senior Prizewinners

Tickets for the Belfast Gala Recital cost £10 (students £5) and will be bookable through the competition website:

A gala recital will also take place in Southwark Cathedral on Monday 28 March at 7.30pm.

Tickets cost £10 (students £5) and will be bookable through the competition website

More information can be found on the NIIOC website:

Facebook / NorthernIrelandInternationalOrganCompetition

Twitter / @NIIOC1

Richard Yarr and some of the competition prize winners are available for interview. 

NIIOC was founded in 2011 and is for organists aged 21 and under.

Northern Ireland International Organ Competition First Prize Winners:

2011 Ben Comeau (United Kingdom)

Ben Comeau, NIIOC’s inaugural winner, is now a freelance organist, pianist and composer. His musical activities span five centuries of the classical canon alongside jazz, samba, cabaret and more. His compositions have been heard in the Wigmore and Royal Albert Halls, and he has been featured on BBC Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’.

2012 Ben Bloor (United Kingdom)

Ben Bloor is Organist of the London Oratory Church, School Organist at Westminster School, and a Junior Fellow at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He enjoys a busy freelance recital career and has had success in several international organ competitions since his NIIOC 1st prize including Boston (2ndprize, 2018) and Montreal (2nd prize, 2021).

2013 Richard Gowers (United Kingdom)

Richard Gowers performs across the UK and internationally as a pianist, organist, continuo player and conductor. In addition to solo recitals, he has performed with choirs such as the BBC Singers, Helsinki Philharmonic Choir and Tenebrae. In 2018 he released a critically-acclaimed debut CD of Messiaen’s La Nativité du Seigneur, which was a Gramophone ‘Editor’s Choice’.

2014 Andrew Forbes (United Kingdom)

Andrew Forbes, Director of Music at Glasgow Cathedral, is an innovative Scottish organist with the ability to transform the organ into ‘the most sublime of musical conduits’ (The Scotsman). Recent solo performances include the Philharmonie de Paris, Šv Matu International Organ Festival (Lithuania) and St Paul’s Cathedral (London).

2015 Alexander Hamilton (United Kingdom)

Alexander Hamilton is Assistant Director of Music at Wells Cathedral. He has appeared as accompanist and as soloist on a number of recordings , including a recent album by Voces 8, and has conducted Bach’s B Minor Mass and Christmas Oratorio with his own ensemble, The Kilgour Consort. He will teach on the Oundle for Organists Summer School 2022.

2016 Mona Rozdestvenskyte (Russia)

Lithuanian organist Mona Rozdestvenskyte, born in Moscow, studied in Detmold with Professor Martin Sander and is a student in the organ soloist masterclass of Professor Martin Schmeding in Leipzig. She has successfully participated in numerous organ competitions and performed in recitals all across Europe. She works as church musician at the provost church of St. Johann in Bremen, Germany.

2017 Sebastian Heindl (Germany)

Sebastian Heindl received his fundamental musical education in Leipzig‘s famous St. Thomas Boys Choir and continued his studies at Leipzig conservatory. After earning numerous competition prizes he has developed a busy performing schedule that takes him frequently to precious historical instruments and illustrious concert venues such as the Philharmonie, Berlin.

2018 Johannes Krahl (Germany)

Johannes Krahl is widely considered to be one of Germany’s leading young organists.

He has won first prizes at the Bach competition in Wiesbaden, the Odoyevsky competition in Moscow and the Gottfried Silbermann competition in Freiberg. Johannes is currently studying Church Music at the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy University of Music and Theatre in Leipzig.

2019 Ivan-Bogdan Reincke (Hungary)

Ivan-Bogdan Reincke is a versatile musician with roots in Hungary and Germany. He is a laureate of several competitions. After completing his organ studies in Budapest, he is now studying church music in Weimar. He also plays the violin and loves electronic and jazz music. Bogdan tries to approach organ music with a new eye of our modern world.

2020 Laura Schlappa (Germany)

Laura Schlappa studies with Professor Dr Martin Sander at the University of Music in Munich. She has won first prizes at the international organ competitions in Dudelange (2021), and London (2019) and the NIIOC intermediate competition (2018). She has attended organ masterclasses with Christophe Mantoux, Thierry Escaich, Olivier Latry, Ben van Oosten, Martin Ennis and Hans-Ola Ericsson, among others.