St Albans International Organ Festival winners announced

ENGLISH-born organist David Baskeyfield scooped the top �6,000 interpretation competition first prize at this year’s International Organ Festival in St Albans.

The announcement came shortly before midnight on Friday at the end of nine days of competition at churches in the city which culminated in final rounds in St Albans Abbey.

David, 28, originally from Macclesfield in Cheshire, was also awarded the �500 audience prize for his performance in the final round.

Now studying for a doctorate at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, he was a former organ scholar at St John’s College, Oxford

Winner of the ��2,500 second prize was Ka Young Lee from South Korea. She was also awarded the �500 John McCabe prize for the best performance of his specially commissioned test piece, Esperanza.

The winner of the �6,000 prize in the improvisation competition was Paul Goussot who is titular organist of the Dom Bedos organ at the Abbey of Ste-Croix in Bordeaux.

Italian organist Simone Vebber won the �1,000 Peter Hurford prize, named after the festival’s founder, for the best performance of a piece by J S Bach during the competition and the �800 Douglas May award for the best performance of a competition work in the quarter of semi-final rounds went to American organist Kyle Babin.

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The awards were presented before the prize winner’s concert in St Albans Abbey on Saturday.

The concert also saw the world premiere of Joute, by young Swiss composer Valentine Villard. The piece was the winning entry in a composition competition run by the magazine Choir and Organ in association with the International Organ Festival.

The work, a duet for organ and trumpet, was performed by organist David Newholme and trumpeter Sebastian Philpott, both Yeomen of the Worshipful Company of Musicians which sponsored the competition.