A musical maestro from Motherwell has played his way to a coveted award in New York.
Aaron Hawthorne travelled to America for the first time to compete at the American Theatre Organ Society convention.
Having fended off hundreds of entrants from around the world to make the three-man final, the 22-year-old couldn’t believe it when he topped the lot to win the prestigious gong.
The former Our Lady’s High pupil said: “I won the UK version of this in 2017 and having just finished university I thought this was a good time to enter the competition.
“I went there thinking ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’
“I couldn’t believe I ended up winning it!
“I’m slowly coming to terms with it. It’s all a bit surreal.
“It was an expenses-paid trip so I thought I’d already won in some ways, but to take the title was unbelievable.”
Aaron picked up the award last month just weeks after graduating with a Master of Arts degree in Music from the University of Glasgow.
He fell in love with the theatre organ after a family holiday to Blackpool, where he first heard the ‘Mighty Wurlitzer’ organ in the famous Tower Ballroom.
Now working as a freelance musician, Aaron regularly performs on one of Scotland’s most famous organs.
He said: “Even though the theatre organ is my main passion, I naturally play other organs like the church organ.
“I regularly play recitals on the organ at Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow which is a real honour.
“I’m coming up to about 50 recitals and it’s definitely one of the best organs and spaces to play.
“At 1pm the whole floor downstairs just stops to watch and listen.
“I used to get nervous but it’s just a whole lot of fun.”
Aaron hopes his American Theatre Organ Society award can help sustain his dream career in music.
He added: “I know it will be very hard to make a career out of the theatre organ.
“But I can hopefully make my living in freelance music, which involves it as well as other organs.
“I always say I’m very fortunate to make a living from something I love doing. It doesn’t get better than that.
“The award has kick-started a lot of careers around the world so hopefully it will do the same for me now too.”