History & Purpose

The American Guild of Organists (AGO) is the national professional association serving the organ and choral music fields. The Guild serves approximately 15,500 members in more than 300 chapters throughout the United States and abroad.

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.

Under the leadership of the National Council, a network of volunteer committees and officials at the regional, district, and local levels directs the activities of the Guild. The AGO National Headquarters is in New York City where a full time staff supports and coordinates publication, administration, and development activities of the organization. For purposes of administration and representation, the Guild is divided into nine geographical regions, and each chapter is assigned to one of them.

The American Guild of Organists and the Associated Pipe Organ Builders of America (APOBA) share a mutually beneficial association, a collaboration that has existed since 1975. For several decades this relationship has been strengthened by financial contributions from APOBA and its members in support of the AGO and its Pipe Organ Encounters (POE) program. The AGO has responded with generous provisions for bringing news from APOBA and its members to the organ public.

The purposes of the American Guild of Organists are:

  • To advance the cause of organ and choral music, to increase their contributions to aesthetic and religious experiences, and to promote their understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment.
  • To improve the proficiency of organists and choral conductors.
  • To evaluate, by examination, attainments in organ playing, choral techniques, conducting, and the theory and general knowledge of music, and to grant certificates to those who pass such examinations at specified levels of attainment.
  • To provide members with opportunities to meet for discussion of professional topics, and to pursue such other activities as contribute to the fulfillment of the purposes of the Guild.
  • Guild sponsored activities include a series of examinations for professional certification as well as programs and an extensive list of publications, CDs, DVDs, and learning resources for all levels of interest. The Guild sponsors competitions in organ performance and improvisation and in organ and choral composition. National and regional conventions held in alternate years, present the finest performers. THE AMERICAN ORGANIST magazine, published monthly by the AGO, is the most widely read journal devoted to organ and choral music in the world.