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Young Theatre Organist of the Year

Posted: Tuesday 29th July

Young Theatre Organist of the Year

Last weekend saw the re-launch of the ATOS UK Young Theatre Organist of the Year Competition, which was held on the magnificent COS Midlands District 3/11 Compton organ at the Fentham Hall, Hampton-In-Arden.

It was wonderful that nine young people entered, aged between 13 and 16, from all over the country, including Hull, Blackpool, The Lake District and East Sussex, as four players have learnt to play at the Rye Wurlitzer Academy. 

Be sure to read the whole article to see pictures at the end

There was a good turnout, including a real gathering of the UK theatre organ world, including some of our COS General Committee, Simon Pulham from the Ipswich Light Organ Music Society Christie, organist Janet Dowsett (herself a past entrant), and a team from the Friends of Rye Wurlitzer and Rye Wurlitzer Academy, including founder Richard Moore, who helped with the running of the rehearsals and event.  A very special guest was international organist and ATOS Board member, John Ledwon, currently resident organist on the Wurlitzer at Disney’s El Capitan Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, who had flown in especially to see how we run the contest here in the UK and to add his support.

Organist and ATOS UK Trustee Michael Wooldridge, himself a past YTOY winner, had planned the event and was on hand to compere the show in a light-hearted fashion, which helped to put everyone at their ease.  At the end, having heard marvellous and inspiring performances from the entrants, and a little cameo from Michael, many of the audience commented it was one of the most enjoyable afternoons of music they’d seen.

Although very much a competition where the taking part brings on as much benefit as winning, a very strong team of judges was on hand to produce our winners.  Organist Len Rawle MBE, son of the competitions founder, his mum Edith Rawle, was Chairman of Judges, ably assisted by Blackpool Tower Resident Organist David Lobban and Organist and COS Midlands District Secretary Damon Willetts. 

The coveted first prize went to Thomas Pickering from Hastings for his renditions of I’ve Got Rhythm and Pure Imagination from Charlie and the Chocolate factory.  Jamyma-May Hanson from Brede was second with her medley from Chitty bang Bang and Blackpool’s Dominic Standing came third with a medley from the Sound of Music.   The Christie Cup for the entrant showing most future potential went to Will Shaw from Stalybridge for his medley from the King and I.

All in all, a great afternoon of music and proof positive that the theatre organ has a safe supply of talented players for the future.










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