American Guild of Organists

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The American Guild of Organists, or AGO, is a national organization of academic, church, and concert organists in the U.S., headquartered in The Interchurch Center in New York City. It was founded in 1896 as both an educational and service organization. The Guild seeks to set and maintain high musical standards and to promote understanding and appreciation of all aspects of organ and choral music.[1]

Membership is not limited to professional organists, but is open to anybody with an interest in the organ and organ music. There are approximately 25,000 AGO members in all categories, of whom 18,409 are voting members as of 2009.[2]


The AGO is geographically divided into nine regions and 330 chapters nationwide. In recent years, the AGO has added international chapters in Bermuda, Australia, Korea, and Singapore. The European chapter is the oldest international chapter, with many members in France and Germany, as well as some in other countries.[1]

The leadership of the AGO consists of a National Council, several Regions and various local chapters within each Region. The national headquarters are located at 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 1260, in New York, USA.

The National Council is the main governing body of the American Guild of Organists. The four National Officers, three National Councillors with portfolio and nine Regional Councillors are members of the National Council. The Executive Director is a non-voting member of the National Council.

The Executive Committee of the Guild is responsible for the management of the affairs of the Guild when the National Council is not in session and acts on matters referred to it by the National Council. All actions of the Executive Committee are subject to ratification by the National Council at its next meeting. The Executive Committee consists of the four National Officers, the three National Councillors with portfolio and the Convener of the Regional Councillors (elected by the Regional Councillors at their first meeting following a national election). The Executive Director is a member of the Executive Committee.

The National Officers of the Guild consist of a President, a Vice President, a Secretary, a Treasurer who also serves as the Councillor for Finance and Development, and a Chaplain. The Chaplain is an honorary national officer and not a member of the National Council.

National Councillors coordinate and represent to the National Council specific areas of the work of the Guild—education, professional development, competitions and conventions, and finance and development.

The Regional Councillors supervise and coordinate the work of the Guild in each Region and represent the Regions on the National Council. There are nine regions:

  • I – New England
  • II – New York/New Jersey, including Europe
  • III – Mid-Atlantic
  • IV – Southeast, including Bermuda
  • V – Great Lakes
  • VI – North Central
  • VII – Southwest
  • VIII – Pacific Northwest
  • IX – Far West, including chapters in Australia, Korea, and Singapore

A Regional Councillor is elected by the members of the Guild assigned to Chapters within each of the nine regions. The Regional Councillor is responsible for supervision and coordination of the work of the Guild in their Region and representation of the Region on the National Council.

Appointed District Conveners are responsible for the development of the Guild's interests in each state or area located within the Region. The District Convener assists the Regional Councillor in the work of the Region.

In addition to District Conveners, Regional Coordinators are appointed to assist the Regional Councillor and a National Councillor in coordinating work of a specific portfolio area of the Guild within the Region, such as education and professional concerns.

Eileen Guenther is president, elected on June 25, 2008 at the AGO's national convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to a two–year term (July 1, 2008–June 30, 2010).[3] Guenther's predecessor, Frederick Swann, had served as president for three terms between 2002 and 2008, having been re-elected to a third two-year term as AGO President in July 2006 at the AGO's national convention in Chicago, Illinois. John Walker is currently vice-president, elected at the Minneapolis conclave to a two–year term (July 1, 2008–June 30, 2010).[3] Guenther and Walker were re-elected in 2010 to second, two-year terms expiring June 30, 2012.

Programs and publications[edit]

The American Organist – monthly publication of the AGO

The organization holds national conventions in even-numbered years and regional conventions in odd-numbered years. The 2010 national convention will be held in Washington, D.C., on July 4–8; the gathering will include workshops and concerts at prominent Washington-area churches, with premieres of newly commissioned works.[4]

The AGO sponsors a number of education programs, including "Pipe Organ Encounters," which are intended to introduce youth to the organ and its workings. It also produces a series of instructional DVDs for organists, providing insights into advanced playing technique, organ registration, improvisation, and interpretation. Renowned organists on these Master Series videos are: Catherine Crozier (vol. 1), Marie-Claire Alain (vol. 2), Frederick Swann (vol. 3), Gerre Hancock (vol. 4), and Marilyn Mason (vol. 5).

The AGO issues several professional certificates and designations upon completion of the appropriate exams and membership in good standing: the Service Playing Certificate (SPC), Colleague (CAGO), Choir Master (ChM), Associateship (AAGO), and Fellowship (FAGO), the highest level of certification bestowed upon accomplished organists by the organization's Board of Examiners.[5]

In 1967, the AGO began publishing Music, a news journal for its membership. Now titled The American Organist, the monthly magazine is the official journal of the AGO for members and non-member subscribers. The illustrated periodical features news about new and restored pipe organs, concert programs, research into organ literature, chapter activities, and reviews of new organ compact discs. The American Organist is also the official magazine for the Associated Pipe Organ Builders in America. Its masthead proclaims the journal's goal, to further the AGO's " ... ideals, objectives, and cultural and educational aspirations".[6] From October, 1968, to June, 2009, The American Organist was also the official journal of the Royal Canadian College of Organists.[7]


  1. ^ a b "About the American Guild of Organists". American Guild of Organists (AGO) website. 2007-12-03. Archived from the original on 15 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-15. 
  2. ^ Guenther, Eileen. "From the President", The American Organist, August 2009, vol. 43 (no. 8), p. 3.
  3. ^ a b "American Guild of Organists Elects 2008–2010 National Council". American Guild of Organists. 2008-06-30. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  4. ^ "Washington DC National Convention". American Guild of Organists. 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-23. 
  5. ^ "Summary of AGO Certification Requirements", The American Organist, January 2008, vol. 42 (no. 1), p. 19.
  6. ^ The American Organist, June, 2009, vol. 43 (no. 6), p. 2.
  7. ^ "RCCO Publications: A Brief History", The American Organist, June 2009, p. 11.

External links[edit]