Winners Named in Organ Competition's Top Level
Greg Zelek, a 20-year-old Juilliard student, won over the audience and the jury to be named first-place winner in the advanced level of the 2012 Rodgers North American Classical Organ Competition on Friday night.
Following performances on a Masterpiece Signature 356 organ before an enthusiastic audience at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, the competition jury also selected HyoJin Song as the second-place winner and Brenda Portman as third-place winner in the Level 2 category. The Level 2 awards include cash prizes of $3,000 for first, $2,000 for second and $1,000 for third.
The day was filled with exciting performances as seven finalists competed at the university, which hosted the competition for its second year. Each performer presented a 20-minute program during the morning, followed by an evening concert by the top three finishers. Also appearing as a special guest artist was Jennifer Shin, the 15-year-old winner of the competition's Level 1, held in St. Louis in March.
At a pre-concert dinner, Rodgers President Duane Kuhn and AGO Executive Director James Thomashower congratulated the finalists for their dedication to excellence in organ performance. Both also commented on the vitality that the young contestants bring to their music and to the organ community as a whole.
Mr. Zelek is a native of Miami, Florida who now resides in New York and is a second-year student at The Juilliard School, studying under Paul Jacobs, chair of the Organ Department. Previously he was named a NFAA Young Arts Silver Medal Winner, won first prize as well as the “Bach Prize” at the East Carolina University Organ Competition, and was a prizewinner in both the Albert Schweitzer National Organ Competition and the 2011 Annual West Chester Organ Competition. Last year, he performed Poulenc's Organ Concerto with the Miami Symphony Orchestra.
Ms. Song, 31, received her D.M.A. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2008. She holds M.M. and B.M. degrees from Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea. Her teachers have included Drs. Gerre and Judith Hancock, Dr. Frank Speller, Dr. Myung-Cho and Dr. In-Sook Park.
Ms. Portman, 31, a resident of Cincinnati, OH, has an M.M. degree from Northwestern University and a B.M.E. from Wheaton College. She has studied with Doug Cleveland and Ed Zimmerman.
Additional finalists were Samuel Nelson, 24, of Lynn, MA; Joshua Dumbleton, 33, of Raleigh, NC; Jung Jin Kim, 32, of Austin, TX; and YangSun Yu, 34, of Fort Worth, TX.
The competition was adjudicated by Dr. Ina Slater Grapenthin, chair; Dr. Robert Tall; and Mr. Dan Miller.
Rodgers Instruments Corporation introduced the competition in 2011 with the goal of identifying, recognizing and encouraging younger organists. The competition is open to residents of North America who are 35 or younger.
Greg Zelek plays his winning program.
Dr. Robert Tall, Dr. Ina Grapenthin and Mr. Dan Miller listen to the final performances.
AGO Executive Director James Thomashower congratulates the winners.
Level 2 finalists (from left) Samuel Nelson, Joshua Dumbleton, Brenda Portman, HyoJin Song, Greg Zelek, Jung Jin Kim and YangSun Yu.