South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

St. Paul organist headed for world competition


October 11, 2011

Benjamin Cornelius-Bates

Benjamin Cornelius-Bates, music director/composer at St. Paul of the Cross Monastery in South Side, is one of six organists in the world chosen to compete in the Organ Improvisation Competition in Biarrits, France.

The competition hosted by the Acadamie Andre' Marchal will occur the week of October 24-29. The competition is named after Andre' Marchal, who was one of the great initiators of the 20th Century organ revival in France. He was an unparalleled improviser and was recognized as such by@Fauré.

Among his students are many brilliant musicians such as@Peter Hurford,@Louis Thiry@and@Jean-Pierre Leguay, one of three titulaires du grand orgue@of@Notre-Dame de Paris.

This competition will offer two first prizes; the first for Interpretation (performing repertoire) and one first prize for Improvisation. The competition has been held bi-annually since 1993. The Academie Andre' Marchal was founded in 1982, two years after Marchal's death.

Pittsburgh's own Ann Labounsky, organ professor at Duquesne University, studied with Andre' Marchal and that one of the other competitors in the competition is a new professor at Duquesne University.