Ansgar Wallenhorst wins international improvisation competition by John Terwal

by John Terwal | Het ORGEL | Year 96 | (2000) | Issue 5
John Terwal Ansgar Wallenhorst wins international improvisation competition
Het ORGEL 96 (2000), nr. 5, 34-43 [summary]

On 4 and 5 July the 43nd edition of the International Organ Improvisation Competitionon the world-famous organ in St.-Bavo’s at Haarlem took place. The German AnsgarWallenhorst won the competition. The other participants were: Ulrich Klemm, Franz JosefStoiber (D), Neil Wright (UK), Sietze de Vries (NL), David Postráneck§ (CZ), TimothyTikker (USA). The jury: Theo Brandmüller (D), Jacques Bank, Bert Matter (NL), PierrePincemaille (F), Jaroslav T&ma (CZ). President of the jury was Piet Kee.

The competition was divided for the first time into two rounds instead of thetraditional three. The theme for the first round was composed by Bert Matter, thatfor the final round by Gilbert Amy (F).

In both rounds the participants appeared to be struggling with the structure of theirimprovisations: quite often they presented ideas that they did not elaborate. Furthermore,many of the improvisers referred to the style of French music from the decades around1900. Particularly in the first round ‘prefab’ patterns were used quiteoften.

The finalists were: David Postráneck§, Sietze de Vries, Ansgar Wallenhorst, NeilWright.

The improvisation by Wallenhorst was a real winner-improvisation: the structure wasclear, the ‘story’ accessibly told, the elements combined convincingly, withsense of affect and of the organ at Haarlem. As in the first round, Wright did not combinethe new elements he introduced, and Postráneck§ stayed too long in the middleregister of the manuals. Sietze de Vries surprised by opening with a pedal clusterand a quote from Hindemith’s Third Sonata. His initially strong structurebegan to fail as new ideas were not elaborated.

Unfortunately, only a few professionally improvising organists and organ studentsattended the competition; whereas the general public attention was more impressivethan ever.