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On Top of the World! – International Success for NZ Musician

On Top of the World! – International Success for NZ Musician

26-year-old Thomas Gaynor from Wellington has just won both first prize and audience prize in one of the most prestigious international organ competitions in the world.

Since 1963, the St Albans International Organ Competition has taken place every two years in the picturesque village of St Albans near London. It was winning the competition that launched the career of one of New Zealand’s most celebrated musicians, Dame Gillian Weir. But that was over 50 years ago, and no New Zealander has been placed at the competition since then.

The competition has one of the most demanding schedules of any contest. Sixteen quarter-finalists from around the world each give two concerts before a panel of internationally renowned judges. Eight are selected to go onto the second round, where they again perform twice. Three make it through to the final round, which consists of a solo recital plus a concerto with the Royal Academy of Music Chamber Orchestra in St John’s Smith Square, London.

The first prize of £6,000 will make a welcome difference to Gaynor’s university fees at the Eastman School of Music in northern New York State. But equally valuable are the other perks that come with winning the competition – a range of recital engagements, the opportunity to make a solo recording, and a contract with an American agent for a year.

Gaynor will return to St Albans for the gala prize-winners’ concert in September.

Gaynor completed his undergraduate study at the NZ School of Music at Victoria University under Douglas Mews. He is currently pursuing his Doctorate of Musical Arts under David Higgs at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. He is the winner of the Bach Liszt Organ Competition in Weimar, Germany, the Sydney International Organ Competition, and the Fort Wayne National Organ Competition. He has performed throughout Australasia, the USA, and Europe. In the next three months he will give two recitals in Melbourne and compete in international competitions in Canada and Tokyo.

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