1. Eligibility

The competitions are open to organists of all nationalities born after 17 July 1988.

2. Website and Information for Applicants

The St Albans International Organ Festival has a website at organfestival.com, this website is referred to in the following paragraphs.

All information concerning the competitions will be found on the Competitions section of this website. Applicants should refer to the website regularly to check for any news for competitors.

3. Applications and Closing Date

Applications should be made on-line through the website. Full instructions will be found on the How to Apply page.

Your application must be received by 19 March 2021 together with:

  • your recording for the Preliminary Recorded Round (see 5 below)
  • a Letter of Recommendation from your teacher or other professional musician
  • payment of the appropriate fee (see 4 below)

Your application will be acknowledged by email.

If for any reason you are unable to make an on-line application, please contact the Competitions Secretary (see 7 below).

4. Application Fee

The Application Fee is non-refundable, and the relevant amount is:
Interpretation Competition: £55
Improvisation Competition: £55
Both competitions: £100

Payment should preferably be made using Paypal or a credit or debit card through the online facility as part of the application process.

Alternatively, a bank transfer may be made to:
Payee: International Organ Festival Society Limited
IBAN: GB87 BARC 2074 0990 5125 16
SWIFTBIC: BARCGB22

Or a cheque, bank draft or international money order should be sent to the Competitions Secretary, made payable to IOFS:
Barclays Bank plc, Sort Code: 20-74-09, Account number: 90512516
Please ensure if using a bank transfer, that your own name is included as a reference.

5. Preliminary Recorded Round

You should submit your recordings by uploading them to a file server. Full details are under How to Apply.

Each piece must be played on a pipe organ in a continuous performance and must not be cut or edited; however each piece should be a separate file. Different instruments may be used for each piece. A statement witnessing your performance must be provided, signed by a professional musician.

Please remember that the judges will decide whether you will be invited to take part in the competition rounds at St Albans on the strength of your recorded performance alone. It is in your interest to ensure that it is of the highest technical quality, and essential guidance is given on Advice on Recording page.

6. Notification

You will be advised by 9 April 2021 if you have been selected to proceed to the Quarter-Final rounds in St Albans.

7. Correspondence

The Competitions Secretary may be contacted at competitions@organfestival.com

Ensure that you configure any ‘Spam’ or ‘Junkmail’ filters on your computer to allow you to receive emails containing the word ‘organ’ and which are from competitions@organfestival.com

8. Arrival and Registration in St Albans

For Interpretation Competitors, sessions of preliminary practice on the Quarter-Final organs will be scheduled to start on the evening of Friday 2 July, and continue on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4. To allow rest after travelling before practice you should plan to arrive on Friday 2 July 2021.

A formal registration and briefing will take place in St Albans on Sunday 4 July 2021 at midday.  Failure to attend may result in disqualification from the competition.

Improvisation Competitors should also plan to arrive in time for the Registration, but as practice sessions may not commence until Monday 5, a later arrival time may be possible by agreement.

9. Practice times

Practice times and facilities will be allocated by the Competitions Secretary and cannot be altered unless reasonable notice is given and special arrangements can be made. In the days leading up to Registration and the Competitions, practice time of 1½ hours for Interpretation candidates, and 1 hour for Improvisation candidates, is given on each of the three competition organs in St Albans. This includes time on the Mander organ which is only used for the semi-final round; practice time on this instrument is given to all quarter-finalists, so that those who progress to the semi-final round have had an early opportunity to consider their registrations on this instrument.

Fifty minutes practice time on the organ at Christ Church, Spitalfields (in London) will be given to those Interpretation candidates who progress to the Semi-Final round.

For semi-finalists an additional session of 1 hour will be allocated for rehearsal with the singer (Interpretation Competition) and with the film (Improvisation Competition).

Interpretation Finalists will be allocated private practice time on the chamber organ to be used for the Concerto Final, in addition to a rehearsal with the orchestra.

Further ‘warm-up’ practice time is given before each competition session as follows:

  • Interpretation Quarter-Final rounds: 30 minutes
  • Interpretation Semi-Final rounds: 30 minutes
  • Interpretation Final: 2 hours
  • Improvisation, all rounds: 30 minutes

For any competitors who enter both competitions, every effort will be made to ensure that they do not have a practice session for the interpretation competition between a practice session and performance for the improvisation competition, and vice versa, but this cannot be guaranteed.

Other organs and keyboards will be available in St Albans for practice.

10. Results

The jury will make their decisions based on your overall performance in all competition rounds. The Jury’s decisions are final. The Jury reserves the right to withhold the award of any prizes.

11. Prizegiving and Gala Concert

Prizegiving will take place after the judging of the Final round at St Albans Cathedral on 17 July.

Prize-winners will be expected to take part in a Gala Concert in St Albans on 18 September 2021.

12. Registrants

Competitors are allowed the use of one registrant and you are encouraged to bring your own, although this person must not be one of your past or present teachers. Any competitor unable to bring his/her own registrant may request one to be provided by the Competitions Secretary.

It is expected that you will require two registrants at Christ Church, Spitalfields. The Competitions Secretary will provide you with a second registrant (if you have your own registrant) or two registrants.

13. Scores

For free choice works, the Competitor will provide a list of chosen works to the Competitions Secretary. In addition, the competitor will provide a ‘pdf’ of the score or a link to the specific item on imslp.org This must correspond to the edition from which the competitor will perform. These must be sent to the Competitions Secretary by 21 June 2021. If a competitor wishes to make choice of works to be played at later date during the competitions, the scores of all options must be provided.

14. Audience

All Competition rounds in St Albans are played in public. Video links will be installed which will allow both audience and jurors to see the performer.

15. Travel to St Albans from overseas

The IOF will consider requests for financial assistance towards travel, to and from the UK, for overseas competitors who would otherwise be unable to enter the competition. If you need help, you should email the Competitions Secretary explaining your position. All relevant information must be given which should include estimated cost of travel, evidence of being a full or part-time student, and details of any paid employment.

No consideration will be given if the request is not made before 10 April 2021.

16. Admission to events

Competitors and their partners or registrants are admitted free to all competition and festival events subject to seats being available.

17. Accommodation

Accommodation is provided for all competitors, and their registrants, free of charge in private houses on a bed and breakfast basis. All competitors are encouraged to stay for the whole of the Festival. Assistance towards the cost of meals for competitors and their registrants will be provided.

18. Feedback

All candidates will be given the opportunity to discuss their performances with the Jury, after they have completed performing in the competition. The times when the Jury are available will be advised and candidates will be invited to book a meeting. The Jury will not enter into correspondence on individual performances after the Festival if a candidate is unable to attend these meetings.

19. Recording/Broadcast

The Competition rounds and the Gala Concert, in whole or in part, may be recorded or broadcast on radio, television or the internet. In these circumstances, the performers will be unable to claim any fees and will have no further rights.

20. Commissioned Work

It is strictly forbidden for any competitor to play in public the Commissioned Work, or allow others to do so using the copy supplied for the sole use of the competitor, before the IOF Competitions have concluded.

Any breach of this rule will disqualify the candidate from the competition.

21. Prize Recitals

The dates and terms & conditions of the recital engagements offered to prize-winners are negotiated between the prize-winner and the host venues. The International Organ Festival Society cannot act as agent, nor assume any responsibility in respect of these engagements, although every assistance will be given to facilitate them.