International prize-winning organist Neil Cockburn wears many hats. He is head of Organ Studies at Mount Royal Conservatory, artistic director of the upcoming Calgary Organ Festival, and director of Mount Royal Conservatory’s Purcell Ensemble. He is also the continuo player and organist for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
Did we mention he is a 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award winner at Mount Royal
Soloist, recitalist, accompanist, and orchestral musician – Cockburn does it all. He has been a central figure developing musical culture of the pipe organ in Calgary and Western Canada since 2000 when he took the helm at Mount Royal’s organ studies.
On the Mount Royal campus, he offers free lunch-hour organ recitals in Wyatt Recital Hall on the second Thursday of each month.
It’s high time to pull back the curtain and learn more about Cockburn.
He was born in Scotland and began playing the organ at 13. He studied music as an undergraduate at Oxford University and Organ Scholar of Keble College, and then went on to earn his master’s degree in organ performance at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, U.K. He also studies at the Conservatoire Nationale de Région Rueil-Malmaison in France before earning a PhD in musicology at the University of Calgary.
He won first prize at the 1996 Dublin International Organ Competition, and has received numerous other prestigious awards. He has performed in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Sweden, the United States, Canada and South Africa.
With the Calgary Organ Festival beginning this week, Cockburn reflected on the past five years.
“Looking back, I am immediately struck by the outstanding calibre of musicians, and the sheer variety of events that we and our partners have been able to offer. No less imposing has been the enthusiasm and delight of our audience members and participants. We love our instrument in all its glory – its majesty, its uniqueness, and its quirkiness!”