Pipe Dreams


Pipe Dreams follows 5 young organists as they compete in Canada’s prestigious International Organ Competition (CIOC). This competition for organists is one of the most exclusive competitions in the world. Tensions run high as our competitors vie for $100 000 worth of prize money. Who will master the ‘king of instruments’ and come out victorious in Montreal?

For Yuan Shen, the daughter of China’s most famous organist, coming in second place is not an option. She is determined to win the CIOC to prove to her father that she is also a great musician. As a petite, female organist Yuan doesn’t have the strength or stamina of the male players which is why she believes that in order to win against the boys her will must be twice as strong.

New Zealand’s Thomas Gaynor is hoping to be the first organist to win three major organ competitions in one summer. The CIOC is his last competition of the three - will he be super prepared or will his gruelling travel and performance schedule wear him down by the time he gets to Montreal?

Thomas’s main fear is Alcee Chriss III, a young organist from Texas who has beaten him the two previous times they competed. Can Alcee win again at the CIOC? He plans to draw on his gospel and jazz roots to come out triumphant in Montreal. Alcee is unsure how the judges will react to Jazz played on the organ for the first time but it is a risk he’s willing to take in order to set him apart.

Alcee's friend and classmate Nick Cappozoli, an organist from Pittsburgh renowned for his reliability and perfect technique, is also willing to take big risks to get noticed at the CIOC. Nick understands that winning the world's biggest organ competition will take more than a flawless performance. He's playing a risky programme of modern music, including a rarely performed piece by John Cage, which he hopes will wow the judges.

New on the competition scene is 19-year-old Sebastian Heindl. He’s the youngest person to ever compete in the CIOC. Sebastian taught himself to play the organ at the age of 11. He is a child prodigy who hails from the same town as his idol and namesake Johann Sebastian Bach. Sebastian has never competed in an international competition and is eager to see where his playing stacks up against the best organists in the world. Will he surprise everybody by taking the win?

Pipe Dreams gives you an inside look into the weird and wonderful world of competitive organ playing. We’ll experience the emotional ups and downs of these organists as they move forward in the competition — or fail to make the cut. Listen as they make sounds you would never associate with the organ. From the quietest tinkling of a bell to the rumble of a locomotive… this is organ playing like you have never heard it before! 

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