A Brief History

Osborne Organ Competition

For more than 50 years, the Summer Institute of Church Music has offered a unique professional development, study, and retreat program for church musicians, worship leaders and choristers.

Founded in 1970 by Dr. Stanley L. Osborne, the Summer Institute of Church Music has for over 50 years welcomed students from across Canada and the United States, from all Christian denominations and at all levels of ability for a week of retreat, study, networking and inspiration in the field of church music. It was the first and remains Canada’s only residential summer study program in church music.

At the time of founding SICM, Dr. Osborne was principal of the Ontario Ladies’ College in Whitby, Ontario, now the Trafalgar Castle School, and so the Institute has called this historic building ‘home’ for most of its history. In 1974, he resigned as SICM’s Founding Director and was succeeded by his assistant, Kenneth Inkster. In 1976, using the proceeds from his book, If Such Holy Song (a commentary on the Anglican/United Church Hymn Book of 1971), Dr. Osborne and his wife Florence endowed what is now called the Osborne Organ Competition, which has been held in even-numbered years.

The annual program offers daily chapel worship, classes in organ/piano and choral/vocal music and more recently, theme sessions – workshops to expand special skills, practical help for wellness and exploration of other important issues facing churches and their music.

Written by Christopher Dawes, Director of Planning and Mission, Summer Institute of Church Music, 2023.