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 Competition on the world-famous organ in St.-Bavo’s at Haarlem took place. The German Ansgar Wallenhorst won the competition. The other participants were: Ulrich Klemm, Franz Josef Stoiber (D), Neil Wright (UK), Sietze de Vries (NL), David Postráneck§ (CZ), Timothy Tikker (USA). The jury: Theo Brandmüller (D), Jacques Bank, Bert Matter (NL), Pierre Pincemaille (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 the traditional three. The theme for the first round was composed by Bert Matter, that for the final round by Gilbert Amy (F).

In both rounds the participants appeared to be struggling with the structure of their improvisations: 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 around 1900. Particularly in the first round ‘prefab’ patterns were used quite often.

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

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

Unfortunately, only a few professionally improvising organists and organ students attended the competition; whereas the general public attention was more impressive than ever.