For Yuan Shen, the daughter of China’s most famous organist, coming in second place is not an option. She is determined to win the CIOC to prove to her father that she is also a great musician. As a petite, female organist Yuan doesn’t have the strength or stamina of the male players which is why she believes that in order to win against the boys her will must be twice as strong.
New Zealand’s Thomas Gaynor is hoping to be the first organist to win three major organ competitions in one summer. The CIOC is his last competition of the three – will he be super prepared or will his grueling travel and performance schedule wear him down by the time he gets to Montreal?
Thomas’s main fear is Alcee Chriss III, a young organist from Texas who has beaten him the two previous times they competed. Can Alcee win again at the CIOC? Alcee plans to draw on his gospel and jazz roots to come out triumphant in Montreal. He’s unsure how the judges will react to Jazz played on the organ but it is a risk he’s willing to take in order to set him apart.
Alcee’s friend and classmate Nick Cappozoli, an organist from Pittsburgh renowned for his reliability and perfect technique, is also willing to take big risks to get noticed. He’s playing an obscure programme of modern music, including a rarely performed piece by John Cage, which he hopes will wow the judges.
New on the competition scene is 19-year-old Sebastian Heindl. He’s the youngest person to ever compete in the CIOC. Sebastian taught himself to play the organ at the age of 11. He is a child prodigy who hails from the same town as his idol and namesake Johann Sebastian Bach. Sebastian has never competed in an international competition and is eager to see where his playing stacks up against the best organists in the world.