Singapore AGO

Singapore Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

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“Boldly Ventured is Half Won”

(Latin/German Proverb)

Dr Evelyn Lim, Dean
28 March 2007

This past March, four young organists embarked on an adventure to San Diego and Orange County (California) to participate in the American Guild of Organists (AGO)/Quimby Regional Competition for Young Organists. The purpose of this USA-based competition was to encourage organists below age 23 to pursue excellence, to gain performance experience and to receive recognition for their achievements. Beginning at the Chapter level, the winner for the Chapter would go on to the Regional Competition, and finally to the National competition in Minneapolis in 2007.

This was probably the first time that a team from Singapore was involved in the competition. Christina Suresh (age 16+), Victor Li (19), Melissa Goh (20) are organ students at Methodist School of Music, while Angela Lim (19) is a student at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. All are members of the Singapore Chapter of the AGO, and are active organists in their respective church communities.

The Singapore team prepared tirelessly for the event, fuelled by the excitement of competing and performing on the same platform as their American peers. The pipe organ at the San Diego Chapter competition (March 17th) was a 3-manual Reuter organ (Christ Lutheran Church), while the one at the Orange County Chapter (March 24th) was a 4-manual Wicks (First Evangelical Free Church in Fullerton). Each competitor was required to perform three pieces: one by Bach, and one each from the Romantic and Contemporary composers. The performance also included playing a hymn with an improvised introduction, interlude and a reharmonized final stanza.

Christina Suresh competed in San Diego and clinched the 2nd prize. In Orange County, Melissa Goh also received the 2nd prize, while Victor Li emerged 1st for the Chapter competition! Victor will go on to the next round, representing Orange County (and Singapore) at the Regional competition on June 23rd.

The group also visited other significant organ venues: in San Diego, they attended a concert at the outdoor Spreckels organ at Balboa Park and had a chance to play on it after the concert, much to the delight of the audience. In Los Angeles, the group visited the First Congregational Church, reputed to have the largest church organ in the USA (5 manuals, 345 ranks!). Wayne Foster, the resident organist first demonstrated on the smaller organs at his studio and in the chapel, before finally proceeding to the sanctuary. He seemed enthused by the visit and invited the group to play on the mammoth instrument. Needless to say, the experience was breathtaking and memorable for all!

 

Posing with the judges after announcement of results
Posing with the judges after
announcement of results

Victor Li, Orange County 1st prize
Victor Li, Orange County 1st prize

Victor and Melissa at the Wicks organ, competition venue
Victor and Melissa at the Wicks organ, competition venue

Christina playing the 345-rank 5-manual organ at the First Congregational Church, LA
Christina playing the 345-rank 5-manual organ at the First Congregational Church, LA

Singapore contingent at the Spreckles organ, Balboa, San Diego
Singapore contingent at the Spreckles
organ, Balboa, San Diego