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National Young Artist Competition in Organ Performance

"Montgomery is to be congratulated for winning not only the first prize, but also the audience prize, the first person in the history of NYACOP to do so...[H]e is a confident performer who conveys musical ideas not through flamboyance but through super-solid playing."- The American Organist

 

"There were many memorable events in the recent National AGO Convention in Chicago...The highlight for me as an organist was the incredible playing of Scott Montgomery, the winner of the AGO Organ Competition.  His sensitive approach to a chorale prelude by Georg Bohm, and his rock solid, beautifully-phrased playing of Bach's Fantasia and Fugue in g minor bodes well for the future of organ playing in our country."- Howard Slenk, Dean of the Grand Rapids AGO

 

"Great sense of drama....'Walls of Water' [Messiaen] was precise and strong.....You presented exactly what Messiaen asked for.  Excellent communication."- Christa Rakich, chair of the Organ Department at New England Conservatory

 

"Rhythmic control and self-assurance come across as very mature and well-grounded...Very compelling!"- Boyd Jones, Price Professor of Organ, Stetson University

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Charleston Daily Mail, September, 2007

"Illinois organist Scott Montgomery seemed at home on the bench of the Holtkamp organ at the Baptist Temple.

 

As the 2006 winner of the National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance, one expected his technical abilities to be of the highest order, and they were, but it was his playing in the second half of Sunday’s concert that interested me most.

 

Montgomery played as part of the Orgelfest series, which is back after a two-year absence.

 

The second-half opener was a work by Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, his Sonata No. 2 in A Major.  After a rousing revelation of the first movement, Montgomery settled into the second movement.

 

For me, this is where the music began.  He handled the work like one might prepare a small fish, very gently.

 

At no time was there the least suggestion of urgency and yet, he never allowed the mood of the music to lay fallow.  Next up was two pieces from Louis Vierne’s Pieces de Fantaisie.

 

The first of these, Naiades, had Montgomery’s right hand playing the 5,000 notes that very clearly denoted the rippling water that sustained the floating melody like a buoyant sycamore leaf in autumn.

 

Vierne’s second selection, Claire de lune, move me more like a haiku bu the master poet Kobayashi Issa than the melodies of the other famous French Composition by Debussy.  Vierne’s moon is more real than romantic, and more mysterious because of the reality.

 

There were plenty of “big” works on the program by Bach and Widor to sate the hunger of those with bigger appetites, and Montgomery handled them with great aplomb.  But for me, those quiet, introspective middle works revealed more of this artist’s musical integrity and hint at greater things for him and, if we are lucky, those of us who listen as well."- Rick Justice

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Dedication of the Lauck Organ at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Petoskey, MI

 “You truly made it a festive occasion.  Your playing was flawless, musical, and expressive.  Your rapport with the audience was amazing!  You gave the parish a feeling of pride, joy and accomplishment through your musical gifts and personality.  This was an event our people will remember and treasure for years to come.”- Joe Fortin, Director of Music and Organist

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CD "Inspirations from England" Review from Organists' Review

Scott Montgomery plays the Mander Organ of St Peter’s Church, Saint Louis, Missouri.

 

The inspirations come not only from this first recording of the very fine 44-stop, 57-rank, Mander organ (plus its five-stop chamber sibling by the same London builder), but also directly, or by association, from many of the musical choices.  But there is another inspiration: the playing of Scott Montgomery, winner of the 2006 American Guild of Organists’ Young Artists Competition.

 

The considerable challenges of installing the instrument have been splendidly overcome: these included eschewing a rear gallery position as the roof was too low; hidden problems with heating ducts, and the eventual squeeze of fitting the three-manual specification into two chancel bays, which required placing the top two notes of the pedal trackers, running beneath the floor, next to the lowest ones.  And the tonal results are exemplary, aided by a decree (which would delight many players) banning carpets.  Large openings were also made in the chamber walls to project sound into the nave.

 

At the epicenter of the programme, more in homage to core repertoire, is the admirably defined and executed Bach G minor Fantasia and Fugue, spaciously grand, without the contrapuntal scrabble that nowadays passes as virtuosity.  This is joined by a crunch, opulent, and intelligently registered account of Mendelssohn’s first Sonata, the contrasting dynamics and pedal line being crystal clear.

 

Two tracks are given to the chamber organ – a clinical account of a William Byrd Fancy, and a more considered set of Sweelinck variations sourced from John Dowland.

 

But back to the big machine, and an enjoyable hybrid opener – shades of Mathias and Leighton – written for the inauguration of the instrument by Manchester-based Sasha Johnson Manning, a regular singer for the BBC daily service.

 

William Walond’s signature piece, the Cornet Voluntary in G, contrasts well with the treacle-fingered harmonies of Bridge’s Adagio.  The Guilmant chiffs along beautifully, and sounds more like an English scherzo.  Finally, anyone who can, as here, make a silk purse out of the sow’s ear that Veirne’s (incorrectly) notated Carillon de Westminster, deserves a medal.

 

Scott Montgomery should be booked for a UK tour.  His musicality, with due regard to the spaces between the notes, would be a master-class for many of his contemporaries.

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CD "Inspirations from England" Review from Choir and Organ

"Scott Montgomery's star has been rising steadily since becoming the first person to win the two major awards offered by the American Guild of Organists' National Your Artists Competition in 2006.  This follow-up to last year's well-received debut on Pro Organo marks the first recording of the nine-year-old, 3-manual, 44 stop, 3,040-pipe Mander organ in St Peter's Church, St Louis.  An attractively wide-ranging programme embraces Sweelinck and Byrd, Mendelssohn and Vierne, the overlooked 18th century British composer composer William Woland, Frank Bridge and Sasha Johnson Manning.  Montgomery makes much of the agile, brightly articulated instrument to stake a strong claim for both organ and organist." - Michael Quinn

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CD "Water and Light" Review from The American Record Guide

"Montgomery plays accurately and with a confidence aided no doubt by his AGO victory.  All the pieces are performed with proper tempos and registrations.  Overall, a fine if not distinguished recording of literature standards."- Metz

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CD "Water and Light" Review from The Organ, 2008

"Scott Montgomery was the 2006 first prize winner in the American Guild of Organists National Young Artist Competition in Organ Performance, and it shows from stylish performances of music as different as John Cook’s Fanfare, de Grigny’s Ave Maris Stella, Bach’s An Wasserflüssen Babylon and the 9/8 Prelude and Fugue in C major, BWV 547, pieces from Messiaen’s Livre Du Saint Sacrement and Vierne’s Piéces de Fantasie, finishing with the Choral Fantasy on ‘Wie schön leuchtet uns der Morgenstern’ by Reger.  Here is an artist of great promise- technically assured and well able to interpret very different styles of music.  I particularly enjoyed his full treatment of the fugue in BWV 547.  Montgomery is obviously ‘one to watch’, and it is especially good to hear this fine four manual Mander organ; would that we had more of them on this side of the Atlantic."  

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CD- Organo Plano: Music for a Joyous Occasion

Scott Montgomery Plays the 90-rank Reuter 4m organ

 

Christ United Methodist Church, Plano, Texas

 

Scott Montgomery, winner of the 2006 AGO National Young Artists Competition, plays a brand new 90-rank Reuter organ of four manuals completed in 2010 at Christ United Methodist Church in Plano, Texas.

 

  • Conrad Susa (B. 1935): March for a Joyous Occasion
  • Jean-Adam Guilain (1680-1739): Tierce en taille from Suite on the Second Tone
  • J. S. Bach (1685-1750): Allein Gott in der Hoh sei Ehr, BWV 663
  • Nicholas Bruhns (1665-1697): Praeludium in E Minor (Larger)
  • Eugène Gigout (1844-1925): Scherzo
  • Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933): Adeste fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful) from Cathedral Windows
  • Karg-Elert: Saluto angelico (Ave Maria Chant) from Cathedral Windows
  • George Shearing (1919-2011): Amazing Grace
  • Leo Sowerby (1895-1968): Carillon
  • Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921): Danse Macabre
  • Dudley Buck (1839-1909): Variations on Home Sweet Home
  • John Knowles Paine (1839-1906): Concert Variations on the Austrian Hymn

 

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