AMU Student Wins Second Place in National Organ Competition


Ave Maria University sophomore and music major, Mary Joy Silmaro, was awarded 2nd place in the Rodgers North American Classical Organ Competition. Ms. Silmaro was selected by an international jury of high-profile performers: Dr. Frederick Swann, Dr. Christoph Bull, and Mr. Felix Hell.

For the final round, Mary Joy performed J.S. Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in G minor (BWV 542) and Allegro Vivace from Fifth Symphony by Charles-Marie Widor.

“It was such a friendly atmosphere and I even got to know the other competitors better and became friends with them. I thought it would be really nerve-wracking for me to perform in front of the other competitors, who certainly have had more experience in performance and competitions, and the many professional organists. Rather, I was very excited to walk onto that stage and just have fun with my pieces. I had so much fun throughout the whole performance – I wish I could do it again!

All the hard work I put towards this competition has certainly paid off. I was even personally invited by one of the judges, Dr. Christoph Bull, organ professor at UCLA, to come to UCLA for graduate studies! I don’t know what exactly the future holds for me, but this competition has certainly opened many opportunities and possibilities for me. I am truly grateful to Rodgers and the other competitors for making this a worthwhile experience, and to my parents and all the professors of Ave Maria University for all their support.”

About Mary Joy Silmaro
Mary Joy Silmaro is a sophomore at Ave Maria University where she studies organ under Dr. Brice Gerlach. Mary Joy began her music training at age 5 with piano lessons from her homeschooling mother. She embarked on formal piano studies at age 7, violin at age 8, and voice at age 9. After her family moved to Newark, CA, she transitioned to studying organ and Gregorian chant with Sam Dorlaque, music director at St. Edward Catholic Church in Newark, CA. Mary Joy worked as organist and cantor in several churches in her teens, and currently serves at part-time organist at the Oratory in the town of Ave Maria, Florida.

About the Rodgers North American Classical Organ Competition
The Rodgers North American Classical Organ Competition has been revamped and focuses on young performers 14 to 22 years old.

Finalists performed in the Music Theater of the stunning Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. MIM is dedicated to offering a shared experience of the history of musical instruments throughout the world to visitors who tour its 200,000 square feet of exhibit space displaying instruments from 200 countries and regions.

Cash awards for competition winners are $3,000 for first place, $2,000 for second and $1,500 for third. Winners of past competitions have gone on to appear as recitalists playing for audiences around the country.