International prize-winning organist Neil Cockburn is Director of Music at the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer (Anglican) in Calgary, Instructor of Organ at the University of Calgary, and Instructor of Organ and Harpsichord at the Mount Royal Conservatory. Celebrated for his diverse repertoire interests and expertise, he performs an all-encompassing spectrum of solo organ recitals on a wide range of instrument types, from all-Bach recitals on historically inspired organs, to symphonic programmes on romantic instruments, and concerts of entirely new works. His most recent solo recording is of the Mass on the Sixth Tone with three Magnificat Suites by the seventeenth-century French composer, André Raison.
Born in Scotland, Neil Cockburn’s musical education was at Oxford University (BA Hons, Music), the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, UK (MusM, Organ Performance, and the Professional Performance Diploma, PPRNCM), the Conservatoire National de Région Rueil-Malmaison, France (Premier prix de perfectionnement), and the University of Calgary (PhD, Musicology). His formative teachers and mentors include David Sanger, Margaret Phillips, Dame Gillian Weir, and Victor Coelho. He won First Prize at the 1996 Dublin International Organ Competition, and has received numerous other prestigious awards, including the W. T. Best Memorial Organ Scholarship (UK), a scholarship from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust (UK), and the Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund Prize — awarded by an international panel of judges.
As a harpsichord and continuo player he performs regularly with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra—notably in the annual Bach@Knox Festival—and with the Kensington Sinfonia. With theorbists Victor Coelho and David Dolata and the group “Il Furioso,” he performed harpsichord continuo on two recordings of early seventeenth-century Italian repertoire for the Toccata Classics label: recordings of the music of G.G. Kapsberger and B. Castaldi.
He is an avid recruiter and mentor of new organists: he has directed three Pipe Organ Encounter camps in Calgary for young beginner organists, and has taught courses for the Royal College of Organists (UK), the Guild of Church Musicians (UK), the Royal School of Church Music, the St. Giles International Organ School (London, UK), the Rochester NY Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, Oundle International Summer School for Young Organists, and has served as a national Travelling Clinician for the Royal Canadian College of Organists. He held the University of Calgary’s Cantos Music Foundation Organ Scholarship, a guest faculty position, celebrating the inauguration of the new North German Baroque organ built by the Ahrend Organ Company of Germany from 2006 until 2009. From 2000-2015 he was Head of Organ Studies at Mount Royal Conservatory, where he worked alongside Simon Preston on the International Summer School (2000-2009), and was Artistic Director of the Calgary Organ Festival (2010-2015). He was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Award (Credit Free) by Mount Royal University in June 2014.