The Semi-finals were held on July 1st at Rosedale Presbyterian Church, Toronto.
Thank you to all the participants!
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.
Vancouverite Isaac Howie has always loved making music. A student of piano and composition since early childhood, his musical career has included founding a jazz trio; composing and performing for concert bands; publishing electronic music; and winning awards for solo piano. He entered the University of British Columbia at 15, where he currently studies organ under the mentorship of Professor Michael Dirk. Alongside his pursuit of a BMus, Isaac is Organist at Holy Family Parish in Vancouver; he holds an ARCT in piano and studies harpsichord with Alex Weimann. In 2021, Isaac was division winner of the Vancouver Chamber Choir's Young Composers' Competition. In his spare time, Isaac enjoys building computers and translating Ancient Greek texts.
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.
Spicer is an organist and accompanist based in Montreal, Quebec. An
Associate of the Royal Canadian College of Organists and Conservatory
Canada (Organ and Piano), Owen has won numerous awards and scholarships,
including the D.F Cook medal, the Paul Westermeyer Hymn playing Award
and The Donald and Helen Mackey memorial award. Owen has held positions
as Organist at Montreal West United Church and Organ Scholar at Christ
Church Cathedral Montreal, First St. Andrew's United Church London (On),
and St. Martin's in the Fields London (On).
As a recitalist, he has performed at numerous venues in Quebec and Ontario, including Redpath Hall Montreal, St. Andrew's Church Ottawa and St James Cathedral Toronto. Owen accompanies ensembles in Ottawa and Montreal, such as the Caelis Ensemble, directed by Matthew Larkin and the Christ Church Cathedral choir, directed by Nicholas Capozzoli.
In April, Owen will graduate from McGill University with a bachelor's in organ performance, where he studied with Hans-Ola Ericsson and Jonathan Oldengarm. He is currently in the studio of Isabelle Demers. In addition to the organ, he studied choral conducting with Jean Sébastien Valée and obtained a minor in music theory.
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.
Click the links below to hear Alexander perform:
David Palmer (Preliminary Round)
David Palmer has performed from coast to coast in Canada, and has given recitals in such American centres as San Francisco, Washington and New York. In Europe, he has played in England, Germany and France, including recitals in the cathedrals of Chartres and Notre Dame in Paris. CBC Radio has broadcast nationally many of his performances, both solos and appearances with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. He has been a judge for several organ playing competitions, among them the nationals of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, and the semi-final round of the Second Calgary International Organ Festival. In 2012-13, he served as a Travelling Clinician for the RCCO, giving recitals and workshops in Victoria, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Hamilton and for the Grey-Bruce Centre.
David has developed a specialty in the keyboard music of Olivier Messiaen, having given many recitals and workshops devoted to his music. In October 1990, he gave the first Canadian performance of Livre du Saint Sacrement at St. James’ Cathedral in Toronto, broadcast on CBC FM, and was invited to perform excerpts of the work at the Fifth International Congress of Organists in Montreal in July 1993. His CD of Méditations sur le mystère de la Sainte Trinité, recorded in the Cathedral-Basilica Mary Queen of the World in Montreal, was released in 1999. In 2005, Canadian Music Centre released his CD, Canadian Organ Showcase, recorded in the Jack Singer Concert Hall in Calgary, Alberta. Double Exposure, a CD of music for organ and piano with colleague Gregory Butler, recorded in Yorkminster Park Baptist Church in Toronto, appeared in 2008.
A native of Victoria, British Columbia, David holds degrees from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where he studied with Robert Glasgow. Past-President of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, he is a Professor Emeritus in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Windsor, and was Organist and Choir Director of All Saints’ Church, Windsor, Ontario, for 52 years. He and his wife Lonnie now live in Victoria, BC, where he is Music Director of St. Michael and All Angels’ Anglican Church.
Michelle Rae Martin-Atwood (Preliminary Round)
Michelle Rae Martin-Atwood, originally from Unity, Saskatchewan, Canada, holds a Doctor of Musical Arts, a Master of Music in organ performance, and a Sacred Music Diploma from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with David Higgs. She earned a Bachelor of Music (1999) in organ from the University of Alberta under the tutelage of Dr. Marnie Giesbrecht.
Since 2010, Michelle has taught music theory, aural skills, sacred music history, and organ at the Crane School of Music (SUNY Potsdam). She has served as organ faculty for Canada’s Summer Institute of Church Music and judge for multiple organ and chamber ensemble competitions.
Dr. Martin-Atwood has performed as a soloist at events such as the XXI International Organ Festival of Guanajuato, Mexico, the Inauguration of the 16th President of SUNY, Aspects of American Organ Building in the 20th Century (EROI), and a memorial concert in Göteborg, Sweden. Michelle was a semifinalist in the Royal Bank Calgary International Organ Competition, a competitor in the National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance, and a finalist in the International Bach Organ Competition.
Significant awards include the Johann Strauss Scholarship for the Advanced Study of Music in Austria, Canada and Saskatchewan Arts Council Grants, annual Eastman School of Music Graduate Fellowships, University of Alberta Universiade, Peace River Pioneer, Beryl Barns, and University of Alberta Alumni Academic Excellence Scholarships, as well as the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching and multiple SUNY Emerging Leaders “Favorite Professor” awards.
She has worked with world-renowned conductors including Duain Wolfe (Carnegie Hall), Kent Tritle, Hart Godden, Dr. Nils Klykken, and Dr. Jeffrey Francom. She has also performed with the Elizabeth Clark Dance Ensemble and for events such as the Nadia Boulanger Symposium and Women in Music Festivals.
Wendy Markosky (Preliminary Round)
Dr. Wendy Markosky is chair of the Department of Music at Burman University, and serves as organist of the College Heights SDA Church on campus. As a faculty member she has taught undergraduate courses in music theory, musicianship skills, and music history; applied lessons in organ, piano, and harpsichord, and is involved in coaching early music. She is an active solo and collaborative performer, is organist/harpsichordist with the Alberta early music ensemble Rosa Barocca, and serves on two RCCO committees, and is involved with music in her community. She is currently completing a solo recording project at the University of Calgary, on its North German-style Ahrend organ.
Dr. Markosky holds graduate degrees (DM, MM) from the School of Music at Indiana University-Bloomington, where she also studied carillon and harpsichord, was an associate instructor of undergraduate and graduate music theory for five years, and served as university chapel organist. She also served as Director of Music/Organist at Presbyterian and Lutheran churches. Her holds undergraduate degrees in music (BMus) and biology (BSc).
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