Sept. 8, 2005
NEW YORK CITY—The American Guild of Organists (AGO) is pleased to announce the results of its 2005 professional certification examinations. Fourteen candidates passed the upper-level academic examinations: there were two successful candidates in the Fellowship (FAGO) examination, the Guild’s highest-level examination. They were John Ward and James W. Loeffler. Ten candidates received the Associateship (AAGO) certificate, and two received the Choir Master (ChM) certificate. Forty-one candidates received the Colleague (CAGO) certificate, and 50 candidates were awarded the Service Playing (SPC) certificate—two of these candidates also received dual certification with the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.
The AGO presents up to four cash prizes each year to candidates who demonstrate outstanding performance on the certification examinations. The Fellowship ($500), Associateship ($400), and Choir Master ($400) prizes are presented to those who earn the highest scores in these examinations. The S. Lewis Elmer Award ($400) is presented to the individual who earns the highest overall score on any of the upper-level exams. In order to qualify for any of the examination awards, a candidate must take the complete examination at one time and achieve an overall score of at least 85%. The names and biographies of the new Fellows and prizewinners follow.
John Ward, FAGO
Blue Hill, Maine
Jan-Piet Knijff, AAGO
South Salem, N.Y.
S. LEWIS ELMER AWARD
Jan-Piet Knijff, AAGO
JOHN WARD, FAGO, is a multi-faceted musician. Since 2003, he has been music director of the First Congregational Church in Blue Hill, Maine. Previously, he lived in the Washington, D.C., area, working as a pianist, singer, organist, conductor, composer, teacher, and representative of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM). In Washington, he was a tenor soloist at St. Paul’s, Rock Creek Parish. Dr. Ward has taught piano, organ, musical theater, and music theory at Catholic University, George Washington University, and the Governor’s Magnet School for the Arts in Norfolk, Va. He has certificates and degrees from Trinity College of Music in London and the Eastman School of Music, and holds a Ph.D. in music theory from the Catholic University of America. He also holds an LRSM (Licentiate of the Royal School of Music) in singing and an LRSM with distinction in organ, certificates issued by the ABRSM. In 2004, he earned the AGO’s AAGO certification, winning in the process both the Associateship Prize and the S. Lewis Elmer Award. Dr. Ward has appeared on every continent except Antarctica and has taken part in well over 250 concert performances.
JAMES W. LOEFFLER, FAGO, is director of music ministries at Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Frederick, Md., a position he has held since 1997. He oversees the music ministry, performs all organ duties, directs five of the church’s six musical ensembles, plans worship, and administers the Evangelical Fine Arts Series. He previously served St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and Heritage Lutheran Church, both in Valparaiso, Ind. Born in Evansville in 1971, Mr. Loeffler holds a bachelor’s degree in church music from Valparaiso University and the master’s degree in choral conducting from the University of Illinois. He earned the AAGO certificate in 2004. He has studied organ with Pamela Johnson, Douglas Reed, and Martin Jean. His conducting teachers have been Fred Stolzfus, Chester Alwes, Eldon Balko, and Dennis Friesen-Carper. In addition, he has been a harpsichord student of William Eifrig and William Heiles, and has studied jazz with Billy Foster. As a composer, Mr. Loeffler has written numerous works for organ, choir, brass, and handbells. Most recently, he had four sets of organ variations published by Darcey Press in a collection entitled 83 Musical Gifts. In addition to the AGO, he is a member of the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers and the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians.
JAN-PIET KNIJFF, AAGO, is organist in residence and professor of organ and chamber music at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College–City University of New York, as well as organist and music director at Union Temple in Brooklyn and director of music at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Pleasantville, N.Y. He is also concert organist in residence at St. Paul’s Church National Historic Site in Mount Vernon, N.Y., and continuo organist/harpsichordist for Bach Vespers at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in New York City. Born in Haarlem, The Netherlands, Dr. Knijff received the MM/Artist Diploma from the Conservatory in Amsterdam, where his organ teachers were Piet Kee and Ewald Kooiman. He was a finalist and prizewinner in several competitions, and won both first prize and the audience prize at the International Bach Competition in Lausanne, Switzerland. He moved to the tri-state area in 1999 and recently received the doctor of musical arts degree from the CUNY Graduate Center, where he studied organ with Bach scholar Christoph Wolff. Dr. Knijff has performed worldwide as a recitalist, accompanist, chamber music player, and concerto soloist on organ, piano, and harpsichord. He has contributed articles to Het Orgel, The Tracker, The Diapason, and Bach Notes.
The AGO PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATION PROGRAM dates from 1896, when the Guild received its charter from the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York to administer a comprehensive series of examinations for professional certification. The following certificates are offered under the auspices of the AGO Committee on Professional Certification: Service Playing Certificate (SPC), Colleague (CAGO), Choir Master (ChM), Associateship (AAGO), and Fellowship (FAGO). While the lower-level Guild examinations (CAGO and SPC) test competence in a number of skills that an organist uses regularly, such as hymn playing, accompanying, and sight-reading, the more advanced examinations also test the candidate’s literacy and musicianship at a higher level. For example, tests in writing counterpoint, accompanying from a figured bass, and essay questions in music history are included in the upper-level exams.
"An AGO certificate benefits the member, contributing to professional advancement and to an increase in confidence in performance, and it strengthens the Guild in its mission to maintain standards in organ playing, choral conducting, and worship music," notes Philip Gehring, PhD, FAGO, immediate past director of the AGO Committee on Professional Certification. "A Guild with a large number of certified members sends a message to the public that we are serious about quality in the practice of our profession." Approximately 10% of the AGO membership is certificated. Of those, 39% hold the Service Playing Certificate; 29% hold the Colleague; 7% hold the Choir Master; 18% hold the Associateship, and 7% hold the Fellowship.
The schedule for the 2006 professional certification examinations will be: Service Playing Test: October 1, 2005–April 30, 2006; Colleague: November 18, 2005; May 12, 2006; and November 17, 2006; Choir Master: June 7, 2006; Associateship: June 8–9, 2006; and Fellowship: June 8–9, 2006. A detailed list of examination requirements is available from AGO National Headquarters and online at www.agohq.org. Please call 212-870-2311, ext. 4303 or e-mail for further information.
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 mission of the AGO is to enrich lives through organ and choral music. The Guild currently serves approximately 19,000 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 20,000 readers each month.
This information is submitted by F. Anthony Thurman, Director of Development and Communications at the National Headquarters of the American Guild of Organists and The American Organist Magazine. For further information, please contact Dr. Thurman by TEL (212) 870-2310, FAX (212) 870-2163 or E-MAIL email@example.com.