Alton Organ Society

Northern Ireland International Organ Competition (NIIOC) 2021

Northern Ireland International Organ Competition (NIIOC) 2021
When David Hill, one of our eminent patrons, visited Alton in October 2020 to give his organ concert, he suggested to members of the Organ Society Committee that they might consider offering a concert performance to winners of the Northern Ireland International Organ Competition (NIIOC).
But what is the NIIOC? It was founded by Richard Yarr in 2011 to highlight the huge potential of young organists under the age of 21, to show everyone what they can do. The standard is incredibly high and from the outset it has attracted exceptionally young and gifted players. The competition has been rated by experts to be on a par with those who take part in the St Albans International Organ Festival.
Without further ado, Gerald Marlow (Treasurer, Alton Organ Society) contacted the organisers of the NIIOC who were very supportive of David Hill’s suggestion. As a result, Alton Organ Society has been listed as a venue for the winner of the Dame Gillian Weir Medal. Designed by Declan Coyle the medal is awarded for the most outstanding performance of one work by a performer in the senior category of the competition. As Dame Gillian Weir is one of our patrons, it is a great honour to be involved with this prestigious event.
When I listened to the organ competition (listen online: I felt a huge sense of excitement for the future. As their performances blossomed, the musicians were reaching exceptional standards, culminating in the 2020 overall winner of the NIIOC Laura Schlappa, and the winner of the Dame Gillian Weir Medal, Ilaria Centorrino.
Ilaria achieved something very special indeed while playing her winning piece by Liszt. Her knowledge, intensity, skill and artistic sensitivity came together to create a piece that told a story. To hear her play in person will be an absolute thrill.
So it is with great excitement that we announce that Ilaria will play right here at the Parish Church of St Lawrence, Alton towards the end of the year on November 2nd at 8.00 p.m. I think we all agree that the important aspect of all musicians is to ensure there is constant growth, support and encouragement to pave the way for a bright future. Richard Yarr, founder of the NIIOC, has done precisely this by creating such a platform for young, gifted organists to display their musicianship. Our small part is to invite young organists to play in front of our warm and friendly audience.
As a provincial society, it is a huge privilege to be associated with such an international competition and we look forward to welcoming Ilaria and all future winners of the Dame Gillian Weir Medal here in Alton, Hampshire.
Sue Hawkins Alton Organ Society