Dec. 13, 2005
NEW YORK CITY — The AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS (AGO) has been notified by the NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS (NEA) that it will receive a grant in the amount of $20,000 from the NEA’s "Access to Artistic Excellence" program to support performances of new music at the AGO National Convention in Chicago, Ill., July 2–6, 2006. Since the NEA’s founding in 1965, this is the first time the Guild has been recognized with an NEA grant award. "Although AGO National Headquarters staff coordinated the preparation and submission of the NEA grant application, this award would not have been possible without the generous assistance of the 2006 AGO National Convention steering committee and many other friends of the organ," stated AGO Executive Director James Thomashower.
On December 8, the NEA announced that it will award $20.4 million to fund 844 grants in 2006. The Arts Endowment will distribute $19,406,500 to not-for-profit national, regional, state, and local organizations across the country, funding "Access to Artistic Excellence" grants. Through this category, the NEA will fund 794 projects out of 1,353 eligible applications. "This year the National Endowment for the Arts celebrates its 40th anniversary of leadership in the arts," said NEA Senior Deputy Chairman Eileen Mason. "Through these grants, the NEA continues its legacy of bringing arts of the highest quality to communities nationwide."
"Since its founding in 1896, the AGO has commissioned hundreds of new works for organ and choir, more than any other single organization in the world," declared AGO President Frederick Swann. "The AGO also provides auspicious performances of these works by recognized artists. It is an honor for us to be recognized by the NEA, and we are highly grateful for the grant that will enable this tradition to continue when we meet for our National Convention in Chicago in the summer of 2006."
The AGO’s NEA grant, which carries with it a mandate that it be matched dollar for dollar from other funding sources, will support six premiere performances of 101 minutes of new music commissioned specifically for the AGO National Convention in Chicago. For its 48th biennial national convention, the AGO has commissioned new works from: Frank Ferko, Naji Hakim, Adolphus Hailstork, Aaron Miller, Emily Maxson Porter, Richard Proulx, Shulamit Ran, Augusta Reed Thomas, Richard Webster, Sharon J. Willis, and Carl Wiltse/Donald Allured. The composers have been selected because of their outstanding contributions to new music. All have a proven ability and command of the technical and musical knowledge necessary to compose for the organ. New music premieres will include five organ solos; two concertos for organ and orchestra; two works for organ and treble instrument; one for organ and handbells; one anthem accompanied by organ; and one unaccompanied choral work. In addition to being present for the premieres of their new works, the composers will be presented in a Composers’ Forum workshop at the convention. The commissioned composers also will be available for formal and informal conversations with convention attendees.
Premier performances of the 2006 commissioned works will be given by world-class soloists, ensembles, and conductors dedicated to artistic excellence. All have established themselves as preeminent musicians in the organ and choral music fields, and in handbells. Performers will include soloists Stefan Engels, James O’Donnell, Janette Fishell, Martin Jean, David Schrader, and Mickey Thomas Terry; the Agape Ringers and the Valparaiso University Bach Choir ensembles; and conductors Christopher M. Cock and Julian Wachner. Professional orchestral musicians from the Chicago area will be contracted for the organ concerto concert.
Recognizing its historic and ongoing support of new music, the AGO was honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers with its ASCAP Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Art of Music through Commissions and Performances of the Music of Our Time at its 45th biennial AGO National Convention in Seattle, Wash., in July 2000. "The recognition by the NEA reaffirms the importance of new music commissions to increase organ and choral repertoire available to future generations, and to increase the American public’s knowledge of and appreciation for contemporary classical music," added President Swann . "The AGO is especially interested in supporting new music for the concert stage, as there are increasing numbers of American concert halls being constructed or renewed that contain new or rebuilt organs."
"Access to Artistic Excellence" grants support the creation and presentation of work in the disciplines of dance, design, folk and traditional arts, literature, local arts agencies, media arts, museums, music, musical theater, opera, presenting, theater, and visual arts. Projects include commissions, residencies, workshops, performances, exhibitions, publications, festivals, and professional development programs.
For further information about the AGO National Convention in Chicago, please visit www.agohq.org/2006. For further information about the National Endowment for the Arts, please visit www.nea.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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.