AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS
ANNOUNCES THE 2004
NATIONAL COMPETITION IN ORGAN IMPROVISATION
NEW YORK CITY The American Guild of Organists (AGO) s pleased to announce the 2004 NATIONAL COMPETITION IN ORGAN IMPROVISATION (NCOI). The competition will be held in three rounds, adjudicated by a distinguished panel of judges. The first round will be conducted by recording; semifinal and final rounds of the competition will be held in Los Angeles, Calif., in conjunction with the biennial National Convention of the AGO, July 49, 2004. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three performers: First Prize, $2,000, provided by the Holtkamp Organ Company; Second Prize, $1,500, provided by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders; and Third Prize, $750, provided by Mary Louise Herrick, AAGO, CHM. Complete details can be found in the April issue of THE AMERICAN ORGANIST Magazine, and on the AGO Web site, <www.agohq.org>. To request a competition application, please call (212) 870-2310 or e-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Improvisation is the pinnacle of achievement for a musician who can combine the elements of performance and composition simultaneously in the creation of a new work of art. Since 1990, the AGO NATIONAL COMPETITION IN ORGAN IMPROVISATION has motivated and inspired hundreds of the most talented organists in America. Today, it is the pre-eminent competition in North America dedicated to preserving and advancing improvisation at the organ, and is open to all regardless of age or country of citizenship.
Each participant is given a standardized format on which to base his or her improvisations. Competitors in the preliminary round are required to improvise (1) on a given hymn tune, and (2) on a given free theme. Those advanced to the semi-final and final rounds are required to improvise (1) in any form on a given free theme, and (2) in the form of a theme and variations on a given hymn tune, chant, or chorale melody. Improvisations may vary widely in style, but their merits will be constant: stylistic consistency, form and affect, thematic and motivic development, harmonic integrity, technique and expression, appropriate registration with contrasting sounds, use of the range of the instrument, a strong metrical sense and rhythmic interest, suitable melodic contours, and a texture that breathes.
A flourishing tradition of improvisation has always been fundamental to a truly vital musical culture. Although musical extemporization has enjoyed a rich heritage in Europe for many centuries, the art form is in perilous risk of extinction in America except among a few organists and jazz musicians. As the premiere competition for organ improvisation in America, the AGO NCOI continues to set the standard for organists seeking to demonstrate their skill in extemporaneous performance, the highest and most challenging musical art form.
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 under-standing 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 more than 20,000 members in more than 340 local chapters throughout the United States and abroad. THE AMERICAN ORGANIST Magazine, the official journal of the AGO, the Royal Canadian College of Organists, and the Associated Pipe Organ Builders of America, reaches an audience of more than 24,000 each month.
This information is submitted by F. Anthony Thurman, Director of Development and Communications. For further information, please contact Dr. Thurman at AGO National Headquarters. This press release is available on the Internet at <www.agohq.org/bulletin>.