Elizabeth B. Stephens International Organ Competition

June 17-19, 2024

The Music and Arts Program of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church will host the second bi-annual Elizabeth B. Stephens International Organ Competition on June 17 – 19, 2024.  The best young organists from around the globe will meet here to perform and be judged by a jury of five of the world’s finest performers.  This competition was founded by the family of the late Elizabeth B. Stephens, who was a great supporter of the arts at PRUMC and throughout the city of Atlanta.  Her legacy offers opportunity to young artists to develop their talents and thrive in their vocation. 

The first competition in 2022 received over seventy applicants, twice as many as most other organ competitions here in the U.S. and abroad. Six finalists will once again be invited to Atlanta to compete for prize money totaling $21,000.

Finalist Recitals

Wednesday, June 19, 2024
1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 6:00, 7:00, & 8:00 pm
sanctuary  & livestream

Finalist recitals will take place on the occasion of Elizabeth B. Stephens’ 100th birthday and as part of Peachtree Road’s Centennial Celebration.  This event is free and open to the public.

1:00 pm    Aleksanteri Wallius
2:00 pm    Adam Chlebek
3:00 pm    Manuel Piazza
6:00 pm    Mitchell Miller
7:00 pm    Gabriel Dissenha
8:00 pm    Magdalena Moser

The competition will be judged by a jury of five of the world’s finest performers: David Briggs (chair), David Coucheron, Isabelle Demers, Lynne Davis, and James O’Donnell.

Meet Our 2024 Finalists

Elizabeth B. Stephens International Organ Competition 2024 Contestant, organist Adam Chlebek.

Adam Chlebek is a student at the Eastman School of Music, where he is pursuing a Master of Music in Organ Performance in the studio of Nathan Laube. A Polish-American from Chicago, IL, he earned second prize at the 2022 Taylor Organ Competition and has performed throughout the United States and Poland. Chlebek has participated in masterclasses with organists Janette Fishell, William Porter, and Arvid Gast. In 2022, he served as the first Sacred Music Intern at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Adam is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he studied organ with Jonathan Moyer; there he also focused on choral singing and conducting. In the past, he has sung in the Oberlin Musical Union, under the direction of Gregory Ristow, and Collegium Musicum, under the direction of Steven Plank; and has studied choral conducting with Jodi Kerchner and Ben Johns. He is currently a member of the Christ Church Schola Cantorum in Rochester, under the direction of Stephen Kennedy.

Adam is an avid jazz pianist; he has participated in Oberlin’s Performance and Improvisation Ensemble, where he has performed with Jamey Haddad, Jay Ashby, and Becca Stevens. He is also the keyboardist for The Surrealists, a psych-rock band based in Evanston, IL. Adam currently serves as the Director of Music at St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Rochester, New York.

Elizabeth B. Stephens International Organ Competition 2024 Contestant, organist Gabriel Dissenha

Gabriel Dissenha was born in 1997 in Curitiba, Brazil. He started playing piano at the age of 13 and organ at the age of 19. At present he is pursuing a Master’s degree in organ with teachers Sietze de Vries and Erwin Wiersinga in Groningen. He finished his studies in church music (organ under Ulrich Walther) in Graz, Austria, with distinction. Before that he had private lessons in harmony, counterpoint, and piano in Brazil.

He was a prizewinner at international music competitions; among others: 1st prize at the 33rd Rosa Mística Latin American Piano Competition (Curitiba, Brazil); first prize at the Martha-Debelli Organ Competition (Graz); special prize for the best interpretation of baroque music at the Tariverdiev Organ Competition (Kaliningrad, Russia); and the 3rd prize at the Kropfreiter Organ Competition (St. Florian, Austria). He took part in several masterclasses with renowned teachers, including Nathan Laube, Ludger Lohmann, Pieter van Dijk and Michel Bouvard.

In addition to this, he has a YouTube channel in which he posts his own compositions in historical styles, mainly that of J. S. Bach.

Elizabeth B. Stephens International Organ Competition 2024 Contestant, organist Mitchell Miller

Mitchell Miller is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at the Eastman School of Music in the studio of Nathan Laube. Mitchell was also in Prof. Laube’s class at the HMDK Stuttgart, where he received his Konzertexam certificate with highest honors in 2022, as well as both a Masters in Organ and Masters in Historical Keyboard Instruments, which he began in the studios of Ludger Lohmann (organ) and Jörg Halubek (harpsichord) after receiving the prestigious J. William Fulbright Grant in 2017.

In 2021, Mitchell received one of three prizes for “Best Overall Interpretation” in the St. Alban’s International Organ Competition and he maintains an active concert schedule, having performed in 10 countries in the US and Europe. He currently serves as the Minister of Music at Church of the Ascension in Rochester, NY. Parallel to his musical activities, Mitchell has fostered a passion for wine, earning both the Level 2 and Level 3 Award in Wines from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), one of the most well-respected certifying bodies in the beverage industry.

Elizabeth B. Stephens International Organ Competition 2024 Contestant, organist Magdalena Moser

Magdalena Moser is an Austrian organist and has been studying with Ulrich Walther at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz. She was awarded several prizes at international organ competitions, among them the Judith-Weir-Prize and the Douglas-May-Award at the International Organ Festival in St Albans (UK), 1st prize at the International Franz Schmidt Organ competition in Vienna in 2020 and 2nd prize at the International Organ competition in Korschenbroich 2019. She attended master classes with Wolfgang Zerer, Peter Planyavsky, Jean-Baptist Dupont, Hannfried Lucke, Naji Hakim and others. Since 2023 she has been teaching organ and improvisation at the Johann-Joseph-Fux conservatory in Graz.

Elizabeth B. Stephens International Organ Competition 2024 Contestant, organist Manuel Piazza

Manuel Piazza is the Assistant Director of Music at St. Thomas’s Anglican Church (Toronto), where he accompanies the High Mass and Evensong choirs and directs the parish’s new children’s choral program, The St. Thomas’s Choristers.

Manuel completed his Bachelor in Organ Performance at the University of Toronto, studying with John Tuttle. He has also performed in masterclasses led by Olivier Latry, William Porter, Stefan Engels, David Briggs, James O’Donnell, Ben van Oosten, Jürgen Essl, Wolfgang Zerer, Christophe Mantoux, Olivier Penin, Fréderic Blanc, and Isabelle Demers. As an undergraduate in Toronto, he served as choir director and organist at Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church, organ scholar at Trinity College (UofT), organ scholar at St. James’ Anglican Cathedral, and an organist at St. Michael’s Cathedral Basilica. After graduating, he was the organ scholar at Truro Cathedral in Cornwall (UK), where he played for Evensong three times a week under the direction of Christopher Gray, and performed with ensembles such as the London Sinfonia.

After returning to North America, he won first prize in the 2021 RCCO National Organ Playing Competition. In May 2022, he graduated with an MM from the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, where he studied organ repertoire with Martin Jean and improvisation with Jeffrey Brillhart. Additionally, he served as senior organ scholar at Trinity Church on the Green, where he was mentored by Walden Moore. He also accompanied the Schola Cantorum, conducted by David Hill. The next year, he was Interim Assistant Director of Music at Trinity Church, Boston, working with Colin Lynch. Manuel’s playing has been praised for its “seamless registration changes … imaginative stop selections, smoothly shifting tone colours … (and) abundant energy” in Organ Canada. Other awards include the Godfrey Hewitt Memorial Scholarship, the Mary Baker Scholarship in Organ Accompanying, the Julia R. Sherman Memorial Prize for excellence in organ playing, the Aidan Kavanagh Prize for Academic Achievement, and the Ernest MacMillan Memorial Foundation Prize.

Elizabeth B. Stephens International Organ Competition 2024 Contestant, organist Aleksanteri Wallius

Aleksanteri Wallius is a master’s student of organ performance at the Sibelius Academy. His teachers include Markku Hietaharju, Markku Mäkinen and Martin Schmeding. He is the First Prize winner of the 23rd International Wiesbaden Organ Competition. He is also a finalist of the prestigious Longwood Gardens Organ Competition. Wallius regularly performs as a soloist and as a part of choirs or various ensembles, including performing as a soloist with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra (ERSO).

He has performed at all significant Finnish organ festivals and given concerts in several European countries. Among Wallius’s teachers in masterclasses have been Thierry Escaich, Olivier Latry, Nathan Laube, David Briggs, Jean Guillou, Ton Koopman, Jean-Baptiste Monnot, and Thomas Trotter.

His particular interest lies in the 19th-century French symphonic organ music and in creating and performing arrangements. In the autumn of 2020, he performed all six organ symphonies by Louis Vierne in one day at Turku Cathedral. In recent years, he has been involved in premiering contemporary music compositions. Since October, Wallius has been studying under professor Martin Schmeding at the Leipzig University of Music as part of an exchange program.

The Judges

We are thrilled to be working with world-renowned performers as our adjudicators.

The three preliminary recorded round judges are:

  • David Briggs, who once again serves as Chair of the Adjudicators
  • Chelsea Chen, concert organist and composer
  • Dr. Oliver Brett, Associate Organist and Choirmaster, PRUMC

The final recital round judges are:

  • David Briggs
  • James O’Donnell, who will play the June 16 competition kick-off recital
  • Dr. Isabel Demers, concert organist and Associate Professor of Organ at McGill University in Montreal
  • Lynne Davis, concert organist, and master teacher
  • David Coucheron, concertmaster of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Congratulations to the winners of the 2022 Elizabeth B. Stephens International Organ Competition

2022 Winners

First Place | Quentin du Verdier
Second Place | Tom Rioult
Third Place | Alex Jones

Prizes

1st prize – $12,000
2nd prize – $6,000
3rd prize – $3,000

Jury

Recorded Round Jury
David Briggs (chair)
Jens Korndörfer
Oliver Brett

Final Round Jury
David Briggs (Chair)
David Higgs
Alan Morrison
Carole Terry
Jean-Baptiste Robin