Lawrence University Organists Earn First, Second Place Honors in Regional Organ Competition

APPLETON, WIS. — Lawrence University first-year student Daniel O’Connor didn’t need to go anywhere but back home to have an exciting spring break.

O’Connor returned to his hometown of Dallas, Texas, during the recent spring recess and earned first-place honors March 28 in the chapter division of the Regional Competition for Young Organists. He received $250 for his winning performance.

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.

Susanna Valleau, a junior from Andover, Mass., took second place in the RYOC held in Boston the same day. Both are students of university organist Katherine Handford.

With his winning performance, O’Connor advances to an AGO regional competition June 28-July 1 in Albuquerque, N.M., one of seven held around the country. A first-place performance there earns O’Connor designation as a “Rising Star” and an invitation to perform in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 2010.

O’Connor’s 30-minute competition program in Dallas 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.”

O’Connor, who is considering a double degree with majors in organ performance and economics, 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.