2017 YTOC Finalists Announced

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This year's Young Theatre Organist Competion had six (6) applications. Three (3) made it!

Our three YTOC finalists, who will be performing at the 2017 Tampa Convention at the YTOC competition are… (in alphabetical order…)

  • Ryan Hardy
  • Alex Jones
  • Nicholas Renkosik

This year the competition was tough! We are very proud of this group of young organists and can’t wait to hear them at the 2017 Convention!

Denise Andersen
YTOC Chair

Biographies

Ryan Hardy

Ryan is a first year student at North Dakota State University majoring in instrumental music education with a focus in percussion. Hardy has had an interest in music from a young age and has played piano for 13 years. After visiting Organ Stop Pizza in Mesa, AZ, he was inspired to learn to play organ and began learning classical organ at age 13. Two years later, Hardy’s focus changed to playing theatre organ and after being named a YTOC finalist for the first time in 2014, he began formal theatre organ lessons with his current teacher Jelani Eddington. Hardy was also a finalist in the 2015 YTOC.

In Fargo, Hardy is the President of the Red River Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society, regularly plays the 4/32 Wurlitzer at the Fargo Theatre for movie prologues and special events, and has played with the Fargo/Moorhead Symphony.

In addition to music, Ryan's interests include woodworking, graphic/mechanical design, and architecture.

Alex Jones

Originally from London, Alex is currently studying for a Masters in Organ Performance Literature at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York in the studio of Prof. Edoardo Bellotti.

In 2009, he gained a scholarship place to study at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester, UK and was junior organ scholar at Manchester Cathedral. Whilst in Manchester, he performed in the Cathedral’s concert series and made several appearances at the Bridgewater Hall and Royal Northern College of Music as a soloist and alongside the Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra.

He recently graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire, UK. In 2013, he was awarded the Anne & Don Smith Memorial Organ Scholarship to Birmingham Symphony Hall and became an “Artist in Residence”. During this tenure, he collaborated alongside a wide variety of artists and has been responsible for curating the hall’s superb Klais organ. In 2014, he was awarded the organ department Recital Prize for Outstanding Performance. He was also awarded a grant from the Birmingham Organists Association Leonard Gibbons’ Fund to aid with the completion of a new transcription for organ of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”.

More recent activities have included a week-long concert tour of Holland featuring performances at the Grote Kerk in Zwolle and the Eindhoven Muzeiksaal. He has also performed in major UK venues including St. Paul’s Cathedral, Royal Festival Hall, Westminster Central Hall and St. John Smith Square, London and in other cathedrals around the UK. He appeared as a guest speaker at Southbank Centre’s “Pulling out the Stops” festival celebrating the re-inauguration of the Royal Festival Hall organ. He has also recently given performances in Rochester as part of the EROI 2016 Festival and made his debut as a theatre organist performing at the Auditorium Theater.

In 2017, he was awarded the Runner-Up Prize at the West Chester University International Organ Competition and has received numerous scholarships and donations toward his further studies in the US.

Alex currently holds the position of Organist at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation in Rochester, NY.

Nicholas Renkosik

Nicholas is eighteen years old (currently a senior in high school), and resides in Wonder Lake, IL. He has studied piano for about fourteen years and organ for about four years, He currently studies piano with Barbara Paul of Crystal Lake, IL, and organ with R. Jelani Eddington of Racine, WI and will be further pursuing his education in music as a piano and organ performance major at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI.

An organist/accompanist on staff at four Catholic churches in Northern Illinois, he is also a two-time attendee of the American Theatre Organ Society’s very own Summer Youth Adventure program. He has performed solo organ programs at venues such as Sanfilippo’s Place De La Musique in Barrington Hills, IL; the Oriental and Riverside Theatres in Milwaukee, WI; the Coronado Theatre in Rockford, IL; Allen Organs of Chicago in Bolingbrook, IL; and the Rialto Theatre in Joliet, IL.

In his spare time, Nichols enjoys playing his Conn 651; collecting antique and vintage sheet music, records, phonographs, clocks, etc.; spending time with family and friends; volunteering at the East Troy Railway Museum in East Troy, WI; and fulfilling his duties as a director on the board of the Dairyland chapter. He also assists Dairyland with their current restoration projects and efforts.

Alex Jones