David Lim ’15 Wins National Organ Competition

Posted on March 13th, 2014 by

David Lim '15

David Lim ’15

Ask any musician. If he’s being honest with you, he will tell you there’s never enough time for practice. When organist David Lim ’15 was informed that he had won the 12th annual Immanuel Lutheran Church Organ Competition in Evanston, Illinois, he realized that it would mean some additional time at the keyboard during a very busy spring semester. As the winner of the national competition, David will present a full recital at the Evanston church in early May. He was already scheduled to present his junior recital in Christ Chapel on April 11 and tour with the Choir of Christ Chapel during the final week in April. Scheduling the recital in Evanston for May 4 was difficult enough. Finding time to rehearse may be even more difficult.

The annual Immanuel Lutheran Church Organ Award was founded to encourage young musicians to seek careers in church music. The funding is provided out of the Immanuel Lutheran Church (Evanston, Ill.) Music Outreach Endowment Fund. The award, consisting of a cash gift, a gold medal, and an opportunity to perform a full concert, is awarded following the competition to a student in an organ or church music degree program in an accredited school who has been nominated by the organ or church music faculty. The purpose of the competition and the award is to encourage careers in church music.

David first heard of the competition from former Christ Chapel cantor and organist Chad Fothergill ’06. Last fall, he was nominated by Dr. Chad Winterfeldt, with whom David is now studying at Gustavus. In Winterfeld’s nomination letter, he wrote, “As David has matured, his enthusiasm for the pipe organ has blossomed into a role of leadership and advocacy. As a performer, David is a skilled interpreter of repertoire, a creative leader of hymnody, and an intelligent improviser.  He understands that musical skill requires hours of practice, study of scores, awareness of historical topics, and intelligent listening.  As an undergraduate, he has progressed in ability to a level that matches his peers at any comparable institution.”

Following Winterfeldt’s recommendation, Lim began to prepare for the February audition and interview. He was interested in gaining the experience of competing in a national competition and working with the repertoire required for the audition: one work by Bach, one work not by Bach, and one hymn. For the audition, Lim selected J.S. Bach’s Prelude & Fugue in D-Major, BWV 532, George Shearing’s setting of Jerusalem, My Happy Home, and the congregational hymn: “Comfort, Comfort, Now My People” (FREU DICH SEHR).

As part of the audition, Lim met with the committee for a formal interview and answered questions ranging from his knowledge of church music to his future plans for study and performance, especially in the area of church music. In their announcement of the award, the committee wrote, “Congratulations! The committee is pleased to inform you that you have been selected as our 12th Organ Scholar of the Year.” Regarding his recital, they noted that his performance “was both skillful and interesting.”

Lim, a junior from New Prague, Minn., is pursuing bachelor degrees in biology and music performance as a member of the Three Crowns Curriculum. He is the son of Jean and Dr. Meng Lim ’78 of New Prague and a 2011 graduate of New Prague High School. Lim is a recipient of the Jussi Björling Music Scholarship, a member of the Gustavus Handbell Choir, the Choir of Christ Chapel, and currently serves as a representative and secretary of the Gustavus Music Council and Vice President of the Choir of Christ Chapel.

Prior to his organ studies at Gustavus, Lim was an organ student of Jon Naatjes, having begun private lessons in 2006. Through participation in Pipe Organ Encounters he has also studied with Christopher Marks and Chelsea Chen. He has also played for masterclasses led by Wilma Jensen and Douglas Cleveland. He is an active member in both the Twin Cities and Sioux Trails Chapters of American Guild of Organists.  He presently serves as the Education Chair and Newsletter Editor of the Sioux Trails chapter and is a member of the Education Committee of the Twin Cities Guild. Lim has served as organ scholar at First Lutheran Church in Saint Peter where he assists Director of Music, Chad Winterfeldt.

Immanuel Lutheran Church in Evanston asked Kurt Roderer to design and build a new mechanical action pipe organ for the newly remodeled sanctuary and balcony in 1979. Specifications and tonal designs, for the specific funds available, were furnished to the church with the understanding that the actual construction of the main parts of the organ such as chests, organ case and pipe work, would be manufactured by the August Laukhuff Organ Company in Germany. In 1981 the two-manual tracker organ was installed and voiced by Kurt Roderer in accordance with the specifications approved by the church. The Zimbelstern was added in 2013.

Now that the date for his recital at Immanuel Lutheran Church has been set, Lim has begun to pick the literature for his recital at the church. And to practice. With a semester that includes a short choir tour, a junior recital, the performance he earned as Immanuel Lutheran’s 12th Organ Scholar of the Year, and working on majors in biology and music performance at Gustavus, Lim knows that rehearsal and practice time will be at a premium.

And, like any musician, he knows there’s never enough time for practice.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin



  1. Pastor Rod Anderson says:

    Congrats David!

    What a high honor for you, your Instructors, the Organ Studio and Gustavus!

    Best Blessings as you represent us with Excellence!
    Pastor Ambassador Rod

  2. Jessica Burggraf says:

    So wonderful, David! Congratulations!

  3. Sister Lucille Matousek says:

    Congratulations, David! We at Good Counsel are so proud of you!