On November 13, 2020, Syracuse University partnered with the Syracuse Chapter of the American Guild of Organists to present the final round of the 2020 Arthur Poister Scholarship Competition in Organ Playing. This event was held in a virtual webinar format due to restrictions on travel and in-person gatherings surrounding COVID-19. The event featured three finalists chosen from a pool of 24 applicants after a preliminary recorded round: Carolyn Craig, Master of Music degree student of Martin Jean at the Yale University Institute of Sacred Music and a member of The Diapason’s 20 Under 30 Class of 2019; Daniel Minnick, Doctor of Musical Arts degree student of David Higgs at the Eastman School of Music; and Andrew Morris, Master of Music degree student of James Higdon at the University of Kansas.
The competition revised the rules for the final round and asked the three finalists to send an unedited video of their 30-minute program of competition repertoire on an organ of their choice. Each competitor received extensive comments on draft recordings from the three experts who were scheduled to judge this year’s competition: Christian Lane, Annette Richards, and Iain Quinn. The competition did not offer first, second, and third prizes since it was impossible to ensure a level playing field with the virtual format, but each competitor received an honorarium and reimbursement for recording costs.
The competition did invite attendees to cast a vote for audience prize, using an anonymous polling toll during the webinar. The winner of this $1,000 prize was Carolyn Craig.
At the conclusion of the program, competition coordinator Anne Laver hosted a brief interview with the finalists and offered words of remembrance honoring long-time competition coordinator Will Headlee, who had passed away on November 9.
The Poister competition invites recorded round submissions for the 2021 competition. Rules and information can be found at: https://syracuseago.org/
Videos of the 2020 finalists’ programs can be found on the Poister competition Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/poisterscholarship.
Other competition news: