NORMAN — A University of Oklahoma student won top honors at one of the largest international organ competitions in the world, and OU was the only school to have two representatives among the 10 semifinalists in the competition.
Adam Pajan won second place at the Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition, which challenges students to acclimate themselves to the highly specific aspects of a 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ. Each competitor receives photos and a tour of the organ, then is given a limited amount of time to prepare for preliminaries and the final round.
Pajan’s presentation earned him the $15,000 Firmin Swinnen Prize.
The competition was at Kennett Square, a borough in Chester County, Pa. Pajan, who is from Monroeville, Pa., is pursuing a doctorate in musical arts for organ with church music emphasis.
OU music student Silviya Mateva, of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, a third-year doctor of musical arts student in organ, was among the top 10 students selected as semifinalists in the competition.
“Our students represented OU very well, proving that OU is once again among the top destinations for young, talented organ students. I am very proud of Adam and Silviya,” said John Schwandt, associate professor of organ at OU and director of the American Organ Institute in the School of Music.
Pajan 26, studies with Schwandt and also serves as a Graduate College Research Fellow and graduate assistant at OU. In 2011, Pajan was awarded first prize at the Arthur Poister Organ Scholarship Competition and in 2009 won the Albert Schweitzer Organ Competition USA.
He was a semifinalist in the American Guild of Organists’ National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance in May 2012. He holds a master of music degree from the Yale University School of Music and Institute of Sacred Music, where he studied with Martin Jean and coached with Thomas Murray, and a bachelor of music degree from Furman University as a student of Charles Tompkins.
The inaugural Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition has drawn musicians from around the world to compete for the largest cash awards for an organ competition anywhere, including the Pierre S. du Pont First Prize ($40,000); the Firmin Swinnen Second Prize ($15,000); and the Clarence Snyder Third Prize ($5,000). Judges evaluated 100 competitors' audition recordings and selected 10 of the organ world's brightest rising stars to compete live before a panel of noted judges.