Lotte Foundation for Arts launches organ competition

By Im Eun-byel
  • Published : Sept 18, 2019 - 15:37
  • Updated : Sept 18, 2019 - 15:37

The Lotte Foundation for Arts is to launch the International Organ Competition of Korea next year.

The foundation and the Korean Association of Organists will co-host the annual competition to recognize talented young organists around the world. 

The pipe organ at the Lotte Concert Hall (Lotte Foundation for Arts)

From left: Kim Sun-kwang, CEO of the Lotte Foundation for Arts; Oh Ja-kyeong, head of the Korean Association of Organists; German organist Arvid Gast; and Korean organist Park Joon-ho speak during a press conference held Wednesday at the Lotte Concert Hall in Jamsil, eastern Seoul. (Lotte Foundation for Arts)

The Lotte Concert Hall, located in Jamsil, eastern Seoul, is home to a grand pipe organ, composed of almost 5,000 pipes installed across three floors. Built by the Austrian company Rieger, it took three years to design and install and cost 2.5 billion won ($2 million).

“Japan began its international organ competition in 1988, China in 2017. It is late, but we are happy to introduce two special organs in Seoul,” Oh Ja-kyeong, head of the Korean Association of Organists, said at a press event at the Lotte Concert Hall on Wednesday. Korea National University of Arts has the other organ.

“There have been small-size local organ competitions, but it had not been possible to host a major, global competition due to financial difficulties and a lack of a classical music hall with proper acoustics,” Oh said.

The first edition of the competition is slated to take place next September and is open to all nationalities. Registration is open until April 30 and only those born after Sept. 1, 1988, are eligible.

Contestants will compete in two rounds, performing on Korea National University of Arts’ GOArt organ, built by the Goteborg Organ Art Center, and the pipe organ at the Lotte Concert Hall.

A six-member jury composed of two South Korean and four non-Korean organists will judge. The works to be performed will include Baroque, Romantic and contemporary compositions.

The second and final round will be held at the Lotte Concert Hall on Sept. 25 and will consist of a 50-minute program -- a composition by J.S. Bach, and Younghi Pagh-Paan’s contemporary piece commissioned for the organ, titled “Unterem Mondlicht ... Sternenlicht ...” (Under Moonlight ... Starlight ...).

“I think it is a fantastic idea to include the two organs. You have to show your skills for old and modern music,” Arvid Gast, a German organist who is a member of the jury, said. “(As contenders have to) create (the program for) the final round, we can also see the ability to make a good program, a good drama.”

The top prizewinner will receive $8,000 and will perform in special presentations at the Lotte Concert Hall for two years.

The competition’s official website is to open Oct. 10.

By Im Eun-byel (silverstar@heraldcorp.com)