National Organ Competition Results
We are excited to announce the following results of the 2023 National Organ Competition:
1st place (Godfrey Hewitt Memorial Fund $5,000)
Martin Jones is in his second year of study with Professor Martin Schmeding for a Master’s degree in organ performance at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy" in Leipzig, Germany. In 2021 he was the winner of the Sir Ernest MacMillan Memorial Foundation Prize and the Godfrey Hewitt Memorial Scholarship. Martin also won the 2018 AGO Southwest Regional Competition for Young Organists, and he won third prize and the audience and hymn prizes in the High School Division of the 2016 Albert Schweitzer Organ Competition. He has played in masterclasses with many notable performers including Alan Morrison, Nathan Laube, Paul Jacobs,Daniel Roth, David Higgs, Pieter Dirksen, and Jürgen Essl. Martin holds a Bachelor of Organ from Rice University in Houston, Texas where he studied with Ken Cowan. He is graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy, where he studied with Thomas Bara, and a former American Boychoir chorister.
2nd place (Helen Murray and Family Prize $2,500)
Joshua Ehlebracht is 23 years old and pursuing a master’s degree in organ from the Yale School of Music in the studio of Prof. Martin Jean. Joshua has always had a passion for music and his previous studies include a Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance from the Eastman School of music studying with Professors Nathan Laube and Anne Laver, as well as a Colleague diploma from the Royal Canadian College of Organists. Joshua is currently serving as interim organist at St. Paul’s on the Green in Norwalk, Connecticut, and has previously worked in Lutheran and Presbyterian churches with his first church position at the age of 15. Joshua is from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada and began his musical journey at the age of six with piano lessons, followed by organ lessons with Dr. Peter Nikiforuk at the age of 10. Joshua holds second place prizes from the Albert Schweitzer organ festival in 2017 and the RCCO run Fairclough competition in 2016. He also spent time performing solo recitals around Ontario in London, Kitchener-Waterloo, Brantford, and Toronto at St. Paul’s Bloor Street and Metropolitan United Church, as well as several performances around Rochester, NY, and New Haven, CT, including performances at Woolsey Hall, Dwight Chapel, and the United Church on the Green.
3rd place (Muriel Gidley Stafford Prize $1,000)
Working on his master’s degree in organ performance at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, Alexander Straus-Fausto from Kitchener, Ontario is thrilled to be studying under the direction of Dr. Martin Jean and playing on Yale’s Newberry Memorial Organ. He completed his Bachelor of Music at McGill University Schulich School of Music and his secondary school studies at Michigan’s Interlochen Arts Academy. While still a teenager, Straus-Fausto undertook a Canada Council-funded summer 2019 concert tour of the UK, playing in historic churches and cathedrals. In fall 2019, he was appointed Titular Organist at Église du Très-Saint-Nom-de-Jésus in Montréal, whose four-manual, 120-rank Casavant organ is acclaimed as one of Canada’s finest. Straus-Fausto was named a member of The Diapason’s “20 under 30” class of 2023,” which recognizes young artists under the age of 30 who have made significant contributions to the field of organ performance. Straus-Fausto was also named a competitor in the Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition 2023.
Left to right: Joshua Ehlebrecht, Alexander Straus-Fausto, Martin Jones; Elaine Graham (Godfrey Hewitt Foundation); judges Chelsea Chen, Christa Rakich, Kola Owolabi, Aaron James, Aaron Tan. Back row: Joachim Segger, Marnie Giesbrecht, Competition Chairs. (National Organ Competition Committee members Adrian Foster and David Simon absent from photo)
Congratulations to all competitors in the 2023 National Organ Competition. The level of playing in all rounds was remarkably high, showcasing a vibrant future for organ music!