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National Organ Competition Finals

July 7 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm

  • RCCO National Organ Competition, open to public, free admission.
  • Semi-finals: 6 competitors, 9am -12, 2-5pm, Friday July 5th, 2019, St. George’s Round Church, 2222 Brunswick St.
  • Finals: 3 competitors, 7-9:30 pm, Sunday July 7th, 2019, Cathdral Church of All Saints, 1330 Cathedral Lane.”


Jacobus Kloppers

Preliminary Judge

Jacobus Kloppers was born in South Africa 1937. After private studies in Piano and Organ he completed his undergraduate music studies at the Potchefstroom University for Christian High Education(1961) and obtained his Performer and Teacher Licentiates in Organ from the University of South Africa (UNISA) . With a UNISA Scholarship he continued his Organ study with the Bach specialist/performer Professor Helmut Walcha at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Frankfurt am Main (1961-1965), West Germany and received a PhD in Musicology from the Frankfurt University in1966 with a thesis on the Interpretation of Bach’s Organ Music.

He taught Organ and Musicology at the University of the Orange Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa (1966-1976) and at The King’s University College (a private Christian college - now University -  in the tradition of the Free University, Amsterdam) in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada from 1979 until his retirement in 2013. He served as organist/choir director in Reformed Churches in South Africa (1956-1961, 1966-1976) and West Germany (1961-1966) and in St. John’s Anglican Church in Edmonton from 1976 to the present. He gave organ recitals and lectures in South Africa, North America, Germany and Austria and did organ broadcast work for the SABC and CBC.

His ca. 77 compositions are mostly commissioned works and consist of Organ Chorale Preludes (the majority), Choral Anthems and - Concertati, a Te Deum for SATB with Timpani and Organ, an Organ Concerto, a Saxophone Concerto, two larger works for Saxophone and Organ, 2 Organ Duet Suites, a concert piece for Organ (Dialectic Fantasy), a concert piece Reflections for piano, an Art Song Cycle for Tenor and Organ based on Chorales, The Last Rose of Summer for Organ and Piano and  Jack and the Bean Stalk for Narrator and Organ. His music is published in Canada, United States and South Africa and a number of them appears on 18 Compact Discs (including the German Querstand and Polish Dux label) or on You Tube. His music has enjoyed performances in greater Europe, North- and South America, Hong Kong and South Africa and broadcasts on CBC, SABC, Radio Netherlands, Polish Radio 2 and Minnesota Public Radio.  He is an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre, member of the Canadian League of Composers, an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, Honorary Member of the South African Society of Church Organists (SAKOV) and was inducted into the Edmonton Cultural Hall of Fame in 2008.

Isabelle Demers

Preliminary Judge

With playing described as having “bracing virtuosity” (Chicago Classical Review) and being “fearless and extraordinary” (Amarillo-Globe News), Isabelle Demers has enraptured critics, presenters, and audience members around the globe. Her 2010 recital for the International Society of Organbuilders-American Institute of Organbuilders convention “left the entire congress in an atmosphere of ‘Demers fever’.” That same year, her performance at the Washington D.C. national convention of the American Guild of Organists caused the standing-room-only audience to call her back to the stage five times.

She has appeared in recital in Germany, Great Britain, Oman, Australia, New Zealand, and coast to coast in the United States and her home country of Canada. 2018-2019 season highlights include performances at the Maison Symphonique (Montreal, Québec), the Elbphilharmonie (Hamburg, Germany), City Hall (Stockholm, Sweden), the Forbidden City Concert Hall (Beijing, China), and Westminster Abbey (London, UK).

Dr. Demers is in continual demand by her fellow colleagues as witnessed by performances for numerous regional and national conventions of the American Guild of Organists, the Institute of Organ Builders and International Society of Organbuilders,  the Royal Canadian College of Organists, and the Organ Historical Society.

Her first recording on the Acis label, The Old and the New, was met with critical acclaim. Fanfare Magazine called it “superbly produced”, a “clear, tightly focused recording”, and a “brilliantly played program.” Her second disc, featuring the organ works of Rachel Laurin, was released in June 2011, and her recording of Max Reger’s Seven Chorale-Fantasias in November 2012. Bach, Bull, and Bombardes (Pro Organo), was released in May 2013. In 2018, she appeared as solo organ accompanist in a recording of Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem with the Baylor University Choir, recorded at Duruflé’s church in Paris, also on the Acis label.

A native of Québec and a doctoral graduate of the Juilliard School, Dr. Demers is Organ Professor and Head of the Organ Program at Baylor University in Texas.

Isabelle Demers is represented in North America exclusively by Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists, LLC.

Ken Cowan

Preliminary Judge

Ken Cowan is one of North America’s finest concert organists. Praised for his dazzling artistry, impeccable technique and imaginative programming by audiences and critics alike, he maintains a rigorous performing schedule which takes him to major concert venues and churches in America, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Recent feature performances have included appearances at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa California, Philadelphia’s Verizon Hall, Spivey Hall, and Walt Disney Concert Hall, as well as concerts in Germany and Korea. In addition, Mr. Cowan has been a featured artist in recent years at the national conventions of the American Guild of Organists held in Los Angeles and Minneapolis, has performed at many regional conventions of the AGO, and has been featured at several conventions of the Organ Historical Society and the Royal Canadian College of Organists.
Ken received the Master’s degree and Artist Diploma from the Yale School of Music/Institute of Sacred Music, studying organ with Thomas Murray. Prior to attending Yale, he graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he studied with John Weaver. His major teacher during high school years was James Bigham, Organist/Choirmaster at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, in Buffalo, NY, which is not far from his hometown Thorold, Ontario, Canada.

In 2012 Mr. Cowan joined the keyboard faculty of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University as Associate Professor and head of the organ program. Previous positions have included Associate Professor of Organ at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, NJ, where he was awarded the 2008 Rider University Distinguished Teaching Award, and Associate Organist and Artist in Residence at Saint Bartholomew’s Church in New York City.

John Grew

John Grew

Semi-Finalist Judge


Paul Halley

Semi-Finalist Judge

Paul Halley, M.A. Cantab., FRCO, ARCT,
is a Grammy Award-winning composer, choral conductor, and organist. He is Director of Music of The University of King’s College Chapel Choir and of The Cathedral Church of All Saints in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A recording of recent choral works by Paul Halley, entitled In The Wide Awe And Wisdom, was released in the fall of 2017 on the Pelagosmusic label, and was named a finalist for the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Award 2018.

Born in Romford, England, Paul was raised in Ottawa, receiving his early musical training with The Men and Boys Choir of St. Matthew’s Anglican Church and, at sixteen, was made an Associate of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto.  Awarded the organ scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, Paul received his M.A. with prizes in composition and performance and was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists.  Following four years post-graduate work as a church musician and English teacher in Jamaica, Montreal, and Victoria (BC), he was appointed to a twelve-year term as Organist and Choirmaster at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. During this time, Paul collaborated with The Paul Winter Consort and contributed as principal composer and keyboardist on multiple Grammy-winning recordings. 
            Settling in rural Connecticut in 1989, Paul founded the choirs Chorus Angelicus and Gaudeamus and, while Director of Music at Trinity Episcopal Church, Torrington, CT, he inaugurated a choral and organ scholar program in conjunction with nearby Yale University. Paul relocated to Nova Scotia in 2007 to become Director of Music at the University of King’s College Halifax and developed the tours, recordings, and the concert series, “King’s at the Cathedral” to showcase performances of the choir. The choir's release Let Us Keep The Feast won the Outstanding Choral Recording Award from Choral Canada in 2014.  In 2015, Paul was appointed Director of Music at The Cathedral Church of All Saints, a position which he holds in conjunction with his work at King’s.

Paul’s choral and instrumental compositions are distributed internationally by Pelagos Incorporated (www.pelagosmusic.com), the recording, music publishing, and arts management company which he established with his wife, Meg Race in 1998.  Halley’s compositions have been commissioned or licensed by Sony Entertainment, John Williams and the Boston Pops Orchestra, CBC, The Toronto Symphony, and Canadian Brass.  In addition to a regular output of liturgical music, Halley composes three to four new, commissioned works per year.

Paul lives on the South Shore of Nova Scotia where he and his family enjoy exploring the waters of Mahone Bay in a traditional Cape Cod catboat which rejoices in the name, “Magnificat”. 



Craig Humber

Semi-Finalist Judge

Based in Vienna, Austria, the Canadian organist Craig Frederick Humber was born in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and studied Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College of Memorial University of Newfoundland. He attained twice their top prize for excellence in Physics, before transferring to Acadia University from which he graduated in 1998. He began his music training with Gary F. Graham. During his studies he was a pupil of Professor Clarence Ledbetter, a Fernando Germani student. From October 1999 to January 2005, Craig trained under Professor Arvid Gast at the esteemed Hochschule für Musik und Theater "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy" in the Bach city, Leipzig, Germany, graduating in organ performance (majoring also in Piano and Harpsichord) and obtaining the Hochschule's title "Diplomorganist." In addition, he studied Choral Conducting, Improvisation under Martin Schmeding and Vocal Technique. In 2007, he completed his terminal degree in performance in Europe, the Aufbaustudium at the Musikhochschule in Lübeck, Germany, and, in addition, Post Graduate studies in Organ at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna under Professor Michael Radulescu.
Mr. Humber's awards and distinctions encompass: The Celanese Canada Internationalists Fellowship, the John Goss Memorial Scholarship from the Royal Canadian College of Organists, five consecutive study grants from the Fulford Trust of the Anglican Foundation of Canada. He is three time recipient of the revered Canada Council for the Arts Grant. In 2002, he earned substantial assistance to investigate the Baroque organs of Gottfried Silbermann, Wagner and Hildebrandt in Saxony. In 2004, he received another grant for the Romantic organs of Wilhelm Sauer and Friedrich Ladegast and won the J.B.C. Watkins special prize in music awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts. Craig Humber won the first Godfrey Hewitt Memorial Scholarship Competition, the largest scholarship awarded by the Royal Canadian College of Organists (Ottawa branch), and is laureate of the Thyll-Dürr Swiss scholarship performance competition at the University of Vienna two consecutive years.
Mr. Humber was broadcasted live on CBC and on German Radio including Deutschland Radio from Berlin, and appeared twice in the Brandenburgische Sommerkonzerte series in Brandenburg, Germany. In 2003, he held an assistantship on the Hildebrandt organ (Bach organ from 1746) in Naumburg, Germany. He was three times coordinator for organ studies at the Leipzig-Julliard Summer Academy. Being the first North American prize winner of the prestigious Gottfried Silbermann Organ Competition held bi-annually in Freiberg, Germany, Craig Humber concertizes regularly on historic organs (Baroque and Romantic) in Germany, Austria, Holland and in Canada.


Rachel Laurin

Semi-Finalist Judge

RACHEL  LAURIN, leads a dual international career as a concert organist and a very prolific composer. Between 1986 and 2006, she was Associate Organist at St-Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal (1986-2002), and Titular Organist at Notre Dame Cathedral, Ottawa (2002-2006). She now devotes herself to composition, recitals, master-classes and lectures.

She has performed organ recitals in major cities in Canada, the United States and Europe, and has made more than twelve recordings, including two CDs devoted to her own compositions. She is frequently invited as a recitalist, composer, lecturer and teacher, in Canadian and American universities. She visited among others Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut), Baylor University (Waco, Texas), Syracuse University (New York, NY), Kansas City University (Missouri), St. Thomas University (Minneapolis, Minnesota), Mount Royal College (Calgary, Alberta), University of Alberta (Edmonton). During the fall 2019, she will visit Yale University as a Distinguished guest Artist, for the second time.

Rachel Laurin has served as “house composer” at Wayne Leupold Editions since 2006. She is also an “Associate Composer” of the Canadian Music Centre since 1989. She has composed more than a hundred works for various solo instruments, voice, instrumental ensembles, choir, and orchestra, including a piano Concerto and a Concerto for organ, string orchestra and timpani. Her published compositions are recognized internationally and have been performed and recorded on the five continents. She has won many prestigious awards, including the Holtkamp-AGO Composition Award in 2008, and First Prize in the 2009 Marilyn Mason New Organ Music Competition. Her works are published by Doberman, Éditions du Nouveau Théâtre Musical, RCCO Music Publications (Canada), Europart (France), Hinshaw Music/Fred Bock, and Wayne Leupold Editions (USA). In 2020, she will be among the “Commissioned Composers” of the American Guild of Organists National Convention, in Atlanta, GA.

A feature-length program devoted to her work as a composer and organist, titled “Rachel’s Children”, was broadcast by American Public Media’s PIPEDREAMS presented by Michael Barone, in October 2012. Rachel Laurin is a member of the “Comité d’Honneur de la Fédération Francophone des Amis de l’Orgue” (FFAO) since 2016.

Peter Togni

Semi-Finalist Judge


July 7
7:00 pm - 9:30 pm
Event Category:


Cathedral Church of All Saints
1330 Cathedral Ln
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 2Z1 Canada
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