Dordt College News

Horton in Tariverdiev and Schnitger international competitions

June 14, 2007


Dr. Robert Horton has been selected for the opportunity to represent the United States in two international organ competitions, one in the Netherlands June 21-30, and the second in Russia September 2-8.

Horton, assistant professor of music and director of keyboard studies at Dordt College, was one of two winners in a preliminary round of the Mikael Tariverdiev International Organ Competition held in Worcester, MA. Sharing the prize money and opportunity to advance to the finals was Canadian Jonathan Oldengarm, who also performed at Assumption College’s Chapel of the Holy Spirit June 6-7.

This was the first time that Russia’s only international organ competition held a preliminary round in North America. The competition was established by the widow of the popular Russian composer Mikael Tariverdiev (1931-1996), and is held every other year, with the final two rounds to be held in Kaliningrad, Russia, in early September.

World-renowned organist James David Christie was the president of the 2007 North American jury of judges, which also included John Grew, James Higdon, David Heller and Carole Terry.

Horton’s next international competition will be the 7th International Schnitger Organ Competition June 21-30, on the two famous organs of the Grote Sint Laurenskerk in Alkmaar, the Netherlands.

A preliminary jury (Pieter van Dijk, Jan Raas and Frank van Wijk) selected Horton as one of 12 candidates admitted to the first round of the organ competition, from 47 entries which represented more than 20 countries.
During the June competition, six participants will proceed to the second round, and in the final round three contestants will vie for the highest honors.

The twelve competitors in the first round of the Dutch competition are Horton from the U.S.; Jukka Aro, Finland; Nicolas Bucher, France; IJsbrand ter Haar, the Netherlands; Simon Harden, Ireland; Matthias Havinga, the Netherlands; João Santos, Portugal; Felix Marangoni, Italy; Dovile Savickaite, Lithunia; Gabor Soos, Hungary; Lukas Stollhof, Germany; Julia Tamminen, Finland

To qualify for this competition, Horton submitted a CD recording of his performance on an organ in Boston, MA, and another on an organ in a monastery at Hales Corners, WI. In Alkmaar he will have the opportunity to perform on organs that are among the finest in the world. Horton said the larger of the two is a “pilgrimage caliber” organ, built by a master builder “with some radical design techniques that we can’t even imagine duplicating today with any success.” This organ attracts major artists from all over the world to study, perform and record.

Horton said this year’s Schnitger competition marks the 300th anniversary of the death of Dieterich Buxtehude, so most of the repertoire is from that composer. For variety, however, a newly-commissioned work by a Dutch composer will also be included in the program.

Dr. Horton has been among the top performers in other international organ competitions: in 2004, he placed second in Gruenstein competition, and third in the 2004 international Orgelconcours Nijmegen. In 2001, he placed first in the John R. Rodland Memorial Scholarship Competition, the Arthur Poister Competition in Organ Playing, and the AGO Greater Kansas City Chapter Divisional Competition.

In addition to teaching organ at Dordt, Dr. Horton teaches church music, music history and aural skills. He earned his D.M.A. (Doctor of Musical Arts) in organ study at the University of Kansas; his Master of Music in organ at Northwestern University; and his Bachelor of Arts in Eastern Asian Studies at Cornell University. He was also a Fulbright Scholar at Conservatoire National de Region de Toulouse, and studied Japanese language and culture at Stanford Kyoto Japan Center.

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