This Sunday, two of my young organists will be playing during the 8:00 am service at the Lutheran Church of Honolulu. Both of them are younger than when I started the organ—I started at age thirteen, so these kids and a bunch more of my students really have a leg up on me.
But just this week, when I sat down to read The American Organist magazine, I read about Dominic Pang, one of the youngest winners of the West Region American Guild of Organists AGO/Quimby Regional Competition for Young Organists. Here’s his bio as printed in the magazine:
Dominic Pang is a home-schooled ninth grader from San Jose, California. He studies piano with William Wellborn in San Francisco. He has studied organ and composition since 2015 with Angela Kraft Cross. Dominic performed the third movement of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with the Auburn Symphony when he was eleven. On Organ, Dominic received his Service Playing Certificate and substitutes at local churches. He also attended the Pipe Organ Encounter at Stanford University in 2016. Dominic received a scholarship to travel to France for organ study organized by the San Francisco Peninsula Organ Academy. Dominic is a Davidson Youth Scholar.
A few years ago, I sat with the judges panel at the Regional Competition so I know what fine playing Dominic probably competed against.
I also read with interest about another Dominic, 11-year-old Dominic Fiacco, a remarkable organ student of Stephen Best, who was interviewed by Tom Maguire in The Catholic Sun, “How can a kid do this?”
“He’s a well-kept secret,” his grandfather Joe Fiacco said, but, oh, how that is changing. Already, Dominic is known as the assistant organist who plays for as many as three Masses on weekends at St. Joseph-St. Patrick, where the chiseled depictions of saints come right out of the walls as if drawn to the music. Next year, Dominic will be the youngest organist to perform at Manhattan’s famed Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine since the renovation of the Great Organ in 2008.
Dominic was eight when he started taking lessons from Best. “I was a little hesitant since I had never taught anyone that young and he wasn’t able to reach the pedals,” Best said, “but I agreed to give it a try, and the rest is history.
“In 40+ years of teaching, I have worked with hundreds of students, many of whom have gone on to be conservatory-trained full-time musicians. But when it comes to sheer talent at so young an age, Dominic is clearly the most astounding.”
Best said he keeps asking himself: “How can a kid do this?”
Here is a video of Dominic from YouTube:
These young organists ROCK!