AGO Awarded $15,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

NEA Funding Will Support Performances, Workshops, and New Music at the 52nd Biennial AGO National Convention in Boston, Mass., June 23–27, 2014

The American Guild of Organists (AGO) has been awarded a grant by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support the 2014 AGO National Convention in Boston, Mass., June 23–27, 2014. The $15,000 NEA “Art Works” grant is directed to support performances, educational workshops, publication of the Boston Organ Book, and new music premieres. The grant carries a mandate that it be matched dollar for dollar from other funding sources. The 2014 AGO National Convention is the fifth consecutive AGO National Convention that has garnered funding from the arts endowment.

AGO President Eileen Guenther stated, “The recognition by the NEA reaffirms the importance of new music commissions to increase organ and choral repertoire, and to increase the American public’s knowledge of and appreciation for contemporary classical music. The AGO is especially interested in supporting new music for the concert stage, as there are increasing numbers of American concert halls, including the Symphony Hall in Boston, with new or renewed concert organs.” AGO Executive Director James Thomashower added, “It is an honor to be recognized by the NEA. We are highly grateful for this grant that will enable us to continue our tradition of presenting outstanding musical performances to enrich lives through organ and choral music when we meet for our National Convention in Boston.”

Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence: public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and enhancing the livability of communities through the arts. The NEA received 1,528 eligible Art Works applications, requesting more than $75 million in funding.  Of those applications, 895 are recommended for grants for a total of $ 23.4 million. Acting NEA Chairman Shigekawa said, “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support these exciting and diverse arts projects that will take place throughout the United States. Whether it is through a focus on education, engagement, or innovation, these projects all contribute to vibrant communities and memorable experiences for the public to engage with the arts.”

The 2014 AGO National Convention will augment and enrich cultural life in New England and beyond through performances by outstanding solo artists and choral and instrumental ensembles in the city’s concert halls and houses of worship, educational workshops, and presentations of scholarly papers. In addition, the Guild has commissioned 14 composers renowned for artistic excellence, totaling more than 100 minutes of new music.

Convention performers and performing ensembles include: James David Christie (organ) and the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Christopher Wilkins (conductor); Joan Lippincott (organ) and the Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble; Handel and Haydn Society; Boston City Singers Youth Choir; Cantata Singers; Berklee Jazz Organ Group; Blue Heron Renaissance Choir; organists: Chelsea Chen, Heinrich Christensen, Craig Cramer, Scott Dettra, Thierry Escaich, Janette Fishell, Peter Krasinski, Christian Lane, Renée Anne Louprette, Kimberly Marshall, Rosalind Mohnsen, Bruce Neswick, Jonathan Ortloff, Kola Owolabi, Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra, Jonathan Ryan, John Scott, Stephen Tharp, and Catherine Todorovski; Peter Sykes, harpsichord; plus winners of the AGO National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance, the AGO National Competition in Organ Improvisation, and the AGO/Quimby Regional Competitions for Young Organists.

Premier performances will be presented of commissioned works from: Carol Barnett, Lisa Bielawa, Carson Cooman, Pamela Decker, Libby Larsen, David Lasky, Matthew Martin, Nico Muhly, Betty Olivero, Scott Perkins, Robert Sirota, Hilary Tann, Edward Thompson, and James Woodman. Serving to highlight Boston’s heritage of American musical composition, six historic compositions by Boston composers will be grouped with six new music commissions to form the Boston Organ Book, a publication to be distributed to all convention registrants to encourage performances for the benefit of the public.

For further information about the 2014 AGO National Convention, please visit www.agoboston2014.org. For further information about the National Endowment for the Arts, please visit www.arts.gov.

The AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS is the national professional association serving the organ and choral music fields. Founded in 1896 as both an educational and service organization, it sets and maintains high musical standards and promotes the understanding and appreciation of all aspects of organ and choral music. The purpose of the AGO is to promote the organ in its historic and evolving roles, to encourage excellence in the performance of organ and choral music, and to provide a forum for mutual support, inspiration, education, and certification of Guild members. The Guild currently serves approximately 20,000 members in more than 300 local chapters throughout the United States and abroad. The American Organist Magazine, the official journal of the AGO and the Associated Pipe Organ Builders of America, reaches an audience of more than 24,000 each month.