APPLETON, WIS. — Lawrence University’s Daniel O’Connor ’11 got his summer recess off to an exciting start, earning first-place honors June 28 at the Regional Competition for Young Organists at the First Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque, N.M.

Sponsored by the American Guild of Organists, the RYOC is considered the country’s most prestigious competition for emerging organists. Conducted every other year, the RCOY is open to participants under the age of 23.

For his winning performance, O’Connor, 19, earned AGO’s “Rising Star” designation, a $1,000 first-place prize and an invitation to perform at the AGO’s 2010 national convention next July in Washington, D.C., as one of nine regional winners in the country. He advanced to the regional competition after winning a chapter division competition in Texas on March 28.

His 30-minute program in the regional competition included J.S. Bach’s “Prelude and Fugue in A minor,” “Clair de Lune” by Louis Vierne, “Blithely Breezing Along” by Stephen Paulus and the German hymn “Lasst uns erfreuen.” He will reprise his winning performance in a public concert Wednesday, July 1 in Albuquerque.

O’Connor, a student of university organist Kathrine Handford, began playing the organ five years ago. While in high school, he studied with 1974 Lawrence graduate Thomas Froehlich.

Founded in 1896, the American Guild of Organists is the national professional association serving the organ and choral music fields. The Guild serves approximately 20,000 members in 330 chapters throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and Australia.