The American Guild of Organists (AGO), the world’s largest professional association of organists and choral conductors, as well as the largest organization on the globe dedicated to a single musical instrument, has elected John C. Walker as its president. The membership of the AGO includes approximately 17,000 organists, choral conductors, music educators, organbuilders, clergy, and aficionados. In speaking of his election, President Walker remarked:
“As a lifelong member of the AGO, it is both a thrill and a humbling responsibility to be chosen by my peers to lead this great organization. As the 31st President in the 118 year history of the Guild, I am honored to walk in the steps of illustrious predecessors. During this era of widespread cultural change, I hope to bring my experience as a church musician, concert performer, conservatory and university professor, and AGO officer to vitalize the Guild’s mission to enrich lives through organ and choral music.”
A resident of Baltimore, Md., Dr. Walker serves on the faculty of the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University and is Minister of Music (emeritus) of Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, having served Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh and The Riverside Church in New York City previously. He has held teaching positions at Duquesne University, Manhattan School of Music, and San Jose State University. His active performance schedule has taken him throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.
“Having been fascinated with the organ since my childhood, I played for the first time in worship at the age of 13. That experience sealed my decision to become an organist. I now look for similar ways to inspire children and youth today to explore the fascinating and magical world of the organ, with its intriguing mechanism, magnificent repertoire, and endless possibilities for variety of timbre. By attending the AGO’s annual Pipe Organ Encounters, hundreds of youths have become captivated with the organ and have gone on to study the organ further in college. I seek similar means to raise awareness and appreciation of the organ by all age groups throughout America, thereby fulfilling the AGO’s mission to nurture future generations of organists.”
The Office of President is the highest elected office in the Guild. The president presides at all national meetings of the Guild, the National Council, and the Executive Committee. The president or a designee is an ex-officio member of the executive committees of all local AGO chapters, and of all special and standing committees of the Guild, with the exception of the Nominating Committee.
“Under the new governance plan, each member of the AGO National Council is charged with responsibility for a specific portfolio. My six elected colleagues have expertise and duties in the areas of competitions, communications, budget and finance, conventions, education, and membership. Additionally, seven regional councillors oversee the work of approximately 300 AGO chapters throughout America and eight chapters overseas. Although we are a national and international organization, the heart of the AGO dwells at the chapter level. As Speaker of the House ‘Tip’ O’Neill famously said, ‘All politics is local,’ so the AGO resides in 300 chapters, which provide networking, fellowship, and mutual support to members. With the help of our dedicated and skilled staff at National Headquarters and thousands of volunteers throughout the Guild, my role will be to coordinate all of these activities and to provide focus for our shared vision.”