The Florence and Stanley Osborne Scholarship in Church Music is named for Mrs. & Dr. Stanley Llewellen Osborne , who funded the first scholarship in organ performance at the Summer Institute of Church Music.
The Summer Institute of Church Music held its first organ competition in 1972. From 12 entrants, six finalists were chosen, and Terence Ford and Gertrude Olford were chosen as winners by a jury chaired by that year’s organ instructor, George Faxon. The prizes were announced by their donor, Dr. J. N. Lowes. The competition was held again in 1973 and 1974.
In 1976, the competition took on its current biennial shape and awarded a scholarship instead of a prize. With proceeds from If Such Holy Song (Whitby, 1976), his commentary on the 1971 joint hymn book of the United Church of Canada and Anglican Church of Canada, Dr. Stanley Llewellen Osborne, the founding Director of the Summer Institute of Church Music endowed, via the Osborne Organ Competition Fund, a scholarship in Church Music to be awarded biennially by organ competition.
In 2005 the event was formally renamed the Osborne Organ Competition in honour of its founders, Mrs. & Dr. Stanley Llewellen Osborne, who originally endowed the tradition of the Institute giving a scholarship for advanced study in church music, to be awarded by organ competition.
In 2007 SICM launched the Holy Song touring program as a profile-raising initiative for the Institute and a fund-raiser for the Osborne Organ Competition Fund. To date, several thousand dollars have been raised in support of the fund.
Concerned with the standard of hymn-playing in recent competitions, and wanting to encourage competitors to focus more on service-playing skills, alongside their repertoire selections, the SICM Board expanded the hymn-playing requirement of the final round effective in 2014 to include a short improvisation and the accompanying of a cantor.
The 25th biennial competition is held in the lead-up to SICM’s 50th Session. The 2004 Competition’s First Prizewinner, Dr Ryan Jackson, returns to Chair the Final Round Jury.