American Guild of Organists (AGO) is an international organization founded by Henry Houseley in 1896 with its headquarters in Interchurch Center in New York City. The organization primarily works for the development of struggling musicians and budding organists. A mutual relation is formed between professionals and enthusiasts working together for the love of music and organ.
AGO forms a platform for thriving organists, choral musicians and vocalists by providing them opportunities to perform in churches, academic grounds and in community concerts. Due to high standards set by the Guild, the performers struggle to give their best and maintain the quality standards.
Sole Purpose of Guild
American guild is not just an international organization for the recognition of organists but it helps to engage organists within the country and around the globe. The guild makes sure that it uplifts the budding organists and help them polish their aptitude.
Another purpose is to introduce young and enthusiastic musicians and organists to the world. To develop a sense of evaluation of organ playing and choral techniques and to put forward an opportunity for the young organists and musicians.
Membership is not confined to professional organists but is open for anyone who is passionate about choral music and is an organist. There are around 16,500 active members of the guild under the Presidentship of Michael Bedford elected in 2016.
Chapters and Regions
American Guild of Organists has around 298 chapters and seven regions around the world. European Chapter is one of the oldest chapters and has produced a number of best organists. American Guild is by far the most awesome guild with frequent events and concerts.
California and Florida have the maximum number of regions within America and recent chapters include Finland, Nairobi and Shanghai.
The main body of the Guild is National Council. The national council consists of four National Officers, three National Councilors and a Chair of Board of Regional Councilors. A non-voting personality, Executive Director is also a part of National Council.
National Officers comprises of a President, a Vice President, a Treasurer, a Secretary and a Chaplain. A chaplain is not a member of the National Council.
National Councilors represent various aspects of the guild such as membership, education, new music, competitions, finance and progress. The regional councillors, elected by members of the guild, within the chapters, supervise and coordinate the work in their respective regions.
The organization conducts National Conventions, in even years, which holds concerts and workshops. Regional Conventions take place in odd years. Both conventions are meant to bring out the best performers and let them muse the audience with their best.
Along with all the events, AGO offers educational programs and certification as well.
AGO offers and sponsors a number of programs like “Pipe Organ Encounters” which works with a purpose to support and uplift the youth organists. Introduction of a specific organ is very important at a very early age to get the best out of students or enthusiasts.
A number of professional certificates are presented to the ones who take an interest in this cause. A colleague (CAGO), Associateship (AAGO), Choir Master (ChM), Service Playing Certificate (SPC) and Fellowship (FAGO) are some of the most prominent certificates proffered by American Guild of Organists.
Career and Earning
The highest degree of education offered by AGO is of Doctorate in Sacred Music and Organ. Other academic levels proposed by this organization are bachelors and masters.
After accomplishing the Doctorate’s level there is a possibility of annual earning up to $80,000. After passing the organization’s board examination a master’s degree holder might earn up to $65,000. A student with a bachelor’s degree or a colleague certificate can also earn around $35,000 to $45,000.
Moreover, organists working part-time can be promoted to full-time services in churches. But since it is a practical field and requires a lot of practice and skill, experience adds up to the performance and earning.
A gift for non-members and member subscribers is the monthly magazine. The American Organist is an official journal with everything you want to learn to the American Guild of Organists. It features all news, concert dates, upcoming events, organ reviews, personal experiences and restored pipe organs.
Organ literature, chapter updates and reviews of new compact disks also have a special part in the Journal. The American Organist is also an official magazine of APOBA. American Pipe Organ Builders of America is a North-American building company which manufactures professional pipe organs.
Largest AGO Chapter in America
The LA chapter is one of the largest chapters in America and it plans a lot of events and shows for its members and non-members. The members show up on a regular basis to celebrate music, have fun and learn the importance of organ in religion and the community. LA chapter makes sure it promotes harmony among organ players, develops an appreciation and engagement of youth organists.
If you are not a member of any American Guild Chapter but still want to be a part of such musical activities, you can simply sign up at the official website and get a notification of the upcoming events.