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The 13th National Organ-Playing Competition

November 9, 2013

The Thirteenth National Organ-Playing Competition was held Saturday, November 9, 2013 at Claremont United Church of Christ in Claremont, California. The featured instrument was completed in 1998 as a co-production of tonal designer/voicer Manuel Rosales and Orgelbau Glatter-Goetz of Pfullendorf/Aach-Linz, Germany. The three finalists were selected from CD performances submitted by contestants throughout the United States. The judges for the preliminary round were William Charles Beck, Linda West Brown, Peter Fennema, and Frances Nobert. For the final competition, the adjudicators were Kimberly Marshall, Dorothy Young Riess, and James Vail. The entrants performed unrestricted repertoire except for the required work, Fanfare Prelude, by Clarence Mader. 


Note: Biographical information current as of the competition date.

First Place: Adam Pajan

Adam Pajan is a DMA candidate in organ with a church music emphasis at the University of Oklahoma’s American Organ Institute where he studies with John Schwandt and is both a Graduate College Research Fellow and Graduate Assistant. He was awarded first prize at both the 2011 Arthur Poister Organ Scholarship Competition and the 2009 Albert Schweitzer Organ Competition USA, the Firmin Swinnen Second Prize at the inaugural Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition in June 2013, and was a semifinalist in the American Guild of Organists’ National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance in May 2012. Adam has performed across the United States and completed two concert tours in Germany in 2011 and 2012. An active and enthusiastic church musician, he serves as Director of Music and Organist at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church in Norman, OK. Adam holds an MM degree from the Yale University School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music, where he studied with Martin Jean and coached with Thomas Murray, and a BM degree from Furman University as a student of Charles Tompkins. 

Second Place and Audience Prize: Weicheng Zhao

Weicheng Zhao was born in Tianjin, China, and began his musical training at the age of five. From 1993 to 2008, he studied the Electone Organ (which features orchestral and newly developed electronic sounds) under Jiyong Gao, Professor of Keyboard at Tianjin Conservatory of Music. From 1995 to 1998, he studied composition with Yuankai Bao, Professor of Composition at the Tianjin Conservatory. Mr. Zhao has transcribed over 40 pieces for the Electone Organ including solos, concertos and chamber music. His transcriptions of pop music for piano in 15 volumes were published by the Publishing House of the Central Conservatory of Music in October 2006. Among numerous scholarships and awards, he received the prestigious People's Government Scholarship in 2007. Out of 20 million college, university, and conservatory students,

Mr. Zhao was one of 30 students chosen to receive the Nomination Prize for Student of the Year. In the same year he was the first Chinese in history to win the 43rd Yamaha International Electone Organ Competition in Tokyo, Japan, which is recognized as the most significant of its kind in the world. After receiving a Bachelor of Music Degree in 2008, he was appointed a full time faculty member of the Electone Organ at the Tianjin Conservatory of Music. In 2009 he took a leave of absence to pursue study of the pipe organ with Cherry Rhodes at the University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music. In 2012 he won First Prize and the Audience Prize in the Sixth Miami International Organ Competition as well as First Prize in the organ division of the 12th Los Angeles International Liszt Competition. Previously he received the Second Prize and the Audience Prize in the 12th Ruth and Clarence Mader National Organ-Playing Competition in 2010. Mr. Zhao was invited to play a solo recital in Paris at the Saint-Eustache Festival d'orgue 2011. He completed the Graduate Certificate program and is currently enrolled in the Master of Music Degree program at USC. He is organist at St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Church, La Cañada, California. 

Third Place: Jaebon Hwang

Jaebon Hwang is a Los Angeles-based composer and organist. She received a Bachelor of Music in Composition from Korea National University of Arts, and a Master of Arts in Scoring for Film and Multimedia from New York University. She has been repeatedly chosen to participate in three of the ASCAP film scoring workshops. Her submission to the 8th Annual Young Film Composers Competition, sponsored by Turner Classic Movies, won 3rd prize. There were more than 850 international entries. She was also commissioned to be one of the composers for the French silent film “Les Deux Timides” (René Clair, 1929) that premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival. Her music has been heard at many other prestigious international film festivals. While pursuing her career as a composer, she also has been an active church musician. In January 2010 Ms. Hwang was appointed as Organ Scholar at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, which is the home of the largest church pipe organ in the world. 

Since her appointment, she has begun to pursue a performance career in organ in addition to her profession as a composer. In 2011 she earned the highest level of certificate in the American Guild of Organists, the Fellow of the American Guild of Organists. She is currently pursuing the Graduate Certificate in Organ Performance at the University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music studying with Dr. Ladd Thomas. She was promoted to Assistant Organist at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles in 2012. 

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