Osborne Organ Competition

Osborne Organ Competition

The competition stresses both repertoire performance and the artful and inspiring leadership of congregational song.

History of the Competition

Application Form

View the 2022 application form. The 2024 application form will be available in mid-2023.

Download application

Past Winners

View all winners since the competition was first launched in 1972.

View past winners

The Florence and Stanley Osborne Scholarship in Church Music

The Florence and Stanley Osborne Scholarship in Church Music was established in 1972 by Dr. & Mrs. Stanley L. Osborne (founding Director and ‘first lady’ of the Summer Institute of Church Music) to be awarded by an organ competition stressing both repertoire performance and the artful and inspiring leadership of congregational song. These two disciplines are given equal priority in the judging of the competition, and no prize is awarded to any candidate failing to demonstrate superior skill in both areas.

The Osborne Organ Competition is held biennially in even-numbered years; funds awarded support advanced study in organ and/or church music.


How to Apply

Applicants must be Canadian citizens under the age of 30 on January 1 of the competition year, and must never have received first prize in any previous Osborne Organ Competition.

All application materials for the Osborne Competition listed below are due by the deadline of the competition year.

1) A completed application form is required along with:

  • proof of age and Canadian citizenship (birth certificate preferred, photocopies welcome) b) study plan in organ and/or church music understood to consume the major part of the applicant’s time in the coming year.
  • signed statement of the accuracy of information, the authenticity of the submitted recording, and that funds awarded will be used towards a specified study plan within twelve months of the Final Competition Round.
  • good-quality recording of a major work of J.S. Bach: either a Fugue and its accompanying Prelude, Toccata or Passacaglia OR any two movements of any of the six Trio Sonatas. The recording and its packaging must contain no speaking or other means of identifying the applicant. No editing/splicing is permitted except between movements – Digital.

2) letter of authenticity, along with contact information, from a teacher or other second responsible party confirming that the recording is the unedited work of the applicant.

3) non-refundable fee of $50.00 (cheque payable to Summer Institute of Church Music)

From those successful in the semi-final round selection, up to three finalists will be chosen to compete in the Final Round Competition. Finalists will be provided with the specifications of the final round organ, as well as a copy of the hymn/service playing selections. Each finalist will be provided with three hours’ practice time on the competition organ in the days ahead of the Final.

1) The competition program will consist of:

  • J.S. Bach: Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 531 (any edition)
  • a Canadian organ composition of difficulty comparable to Grade 10 or ARCT (Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto)
  • leading the singing of a hymn that will be provided to finalists. Note that this portion of the competition will also require accompaniment of a cantor and limited liturgical improvisation.

2 ) Upon notification of finalist status competitors will:

  • accept or decline the invitation to participate in the final round in Whitby,
  • provide a photograph and one-paragraph biography for publication,
  • provide the title(s), and three temporary copies of any “own-choice” selection(s) for the final round program,
  • provide an up-to-date resumé, including past teachers and colleagues – N.B. This information is used in assembling an impartial jury for the final competition round. It will NOT be used in the selection of finalists; no one referred to will be contacted by SICM, and no information will be published.

3) The candidate alone will be responsible for registration, but a page turner will be provided.

4) A jury of three adjudicators chaired by the visiting organ instructor of that year’s session of the Summer Institute of Church Music will decide how (and if) to award the prizes. The decision of the jury is final; the rights to differently apportion and to withhold prizes are reserved.

First prize in the Osborne Organ Competition is $1500; second prize is $1000. Jurors may choose to apportion the awards between candidates. Funds awarded must be used for advanced study in organ and/or church music. Meals and accommodation will be provided for all finalists at Trafalgar Castle School in Whitby throughout Institute Week; finalists are not, however, required to stay beyond the day of the Final Round.

Download 2022 Application Form

Fun Facts

  • Since 1972 the Competition has contributed nearly $60,000 to the education of fine young church musicians in Canada
  • Michael Bloss and Ryan Jackson are the only organists to have both competed in and later, served on the competition jury.

  • Second prize winners are permitted to re-enter subsequent competitions so long as they continue to meet the age and citizenship requirements.

  • In 2012, the 22nd Competition, Francine Nguyen-Savaria and Matthieu Latreille became the only husband/wife pair to compete, against one another, in the competition.  Both were prize winners.