A Unique Opportunity for Young Organists
My name is Conor McGlone and I have been playing the organ since 2012. For the past 5 years I have been participating in the Organ classes at Newry Musical Feis. As Northern Ireland’s only Organ competition it provides a great opportunity to perform and compete with others. Each year the competition is held in St Catherine’s Church, Dominic Street, Newry. The organ in the church is a remarkable instrument for performance and I’ve looked forward to getting the chance to play on it every year. It is a whole new experience being able to realize the pieces I am playing with a larger variety of registrations and colours and it is exciting to get to meet professional organists and to play for them as part of the competition. I’ve enjoyed playing for adjudicators such as Dr Carole O’Connor, Dr David Adams, Simon Harden and Professor Gerald Gillen. The Feis has also served as an occasion to perform repertoire I have been working on for friends and family.
The masterclass in the chapel of St Colman’s College which follows the competition each year has always been a vital and enjoyable part of the experience provided by Newry Musical Feis. It is unique in that usually in competitions you are left with just the adjudication, but here you get the opportunity of an in-depth look at the works you performed, or are learning, with the adjudicator. It has provided me with different perspectives on technique as well as interpretation and style that I would have never gotten otherwise and a thorough look at any problems faced. Each adjudicator will have a different approach and you can listen and learn from the other competitors’ masterclasses.
With my 2017 win of the Organ cup I was awarded the opportunity of a recital in St Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast. I took this up in May 2018 and performed three pieces at the end of their monthly recital. I was assisted by the organist and Music Director Dr Nigel McClintock, who introduced me to the magnificent instrument in the venue. It was a rewarding experience to perform to others on the four-manual instrument as well as getting an in-depth look at it.
The Newry Feis Organ competitions and masterclasses have been a great opportunity to develop my skills and enthusiasm for playing. Following an audition and interview I was awarded an organ scholarship and a place to read Music at the University of Oxford in September 2018. The scholarship grants me lessons as well as access to the organs at the Oxford colleges. A-Level results permitting, I am looking forward to furthering my academic studies in Music while maintaining the role of organist and accompanist.