Organist accepted for competition in France

Rachel Swindells
Rachel Swindells
The Second Pierre de Manchicourt international organ contest is a week away, and though Dunedin organist Rachel Swindells has no idea of the quality of competitors, she has plans for the prize money.

"I have no idea how well I'm likely to do in this contest.

"I think the person most excited if I win will probably be my boyfriend [City of Dunedin Pipe Band pipe major Geoff Hallberg] because I have promised to buy him a set of smallpipes from Scotland if I win."

First prize is 2000 in the competition to be held in Bethune, France, as part of the Contrepoints 62 Organ Festival.

Ms Swindells (23) said she found out about the competition by chance earlier this year when she picked up a brochure from the University of Otago music department office.

She said there were three rounds in the competition. In the first round, she had to submit a CD of her playing which was recorded in July this year.

"I sent it off on the off chance, thinking that seeing as I would be in Europe on holiday anyway, it was worth a shot. I was blown away to receive the email a week before I left saying I had been accepted."

The second round, a live performance, would take place next Friday, she said.

"It's called the eliminatoire - and for those who get through that, there is a third round [the final] on Sunday in which they play a 25-minute programme of their own choice."

Miss Swindells said she had no idea of the calibre of the other competitors, but knew there would be 15, all under the age of 28, from many countries.

"I didn't expect to be selected in the first place, so I'm actually quite relaxed. If I get through to the next round, great; if not, then I've still had a great holiday and I can say that I've competed on the international stage.

"It is quite exciting to think of the possibility of doing well, though - but I'm trying not to think too far ahead."


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