June 9, 2009
NEW YORK CITY — The American Guild of Organists (AGO), the largest organization in the world dedicated to organ and choral music, is pleased to announce the first increase in membership in more than a decade, as reported by AGO Executive Director James Thomashower. At the close of the 2008–2009 membership year, AGO membership totaled 18,409 voting members, an increase of 167 over the 2007–2008 membership year. "Independent Membership is our fastest growing category," declared Thomashower, "while chapter membership remains our largest and most vital membership segment."
AGO Director of Membership and Administration Jennifer Madden noted that the membership increase resulted from three initiatives: a chapter-based phonathon designed to renew lapsed members; a solicitation to lapsed members prepared by AGO National Headquarters; and restricting access to portions of the AGO Web site to members only. "Because of this three-phased approach, we had a surge in renewals and new independent memberships, ending the year with over 700 Independent Members." While Independent Members have no local chapter affiliation and receive no local chapter benefits, they receive all other voting membership benefits and privileges.
Founded in 1896, the American Guild of Organists has more than 300 local chapters throughout the United States and abroad. The Independent Membership category was created in 2003 in response to individuals living in remote geographic areas not otherwise served by a local AGO chapter. Although independent members have no chapter affiliation, they are served by their district convener, regional coordinators for education and professional development, and their regional councillor. Independent members receive full membership benefits, including eligibility for all health and insurance plans offered through the AGO, national election voting privileges, a subscription to The American Organist Magazine, and discounts on AGO convention registration fees and education resources from the AGO Bookstore. "While Independent Membership is available to all, even to those living where a local chapter exists, it is the AGO’s hope that individuals joining the Guild for the first time as independent members will soon discover the many additional benefits and programs available through chapter affiliation, and will choose to join their local chapter, if one exists, at the time of membership renewal," noted Herbert Buffington, director of the AGO Committee on Membership Development and Chapter Support.
AGO membership is open to all and includes working professionals—organists, choir directors, teachers, organbuilders, technicians, and suppliers to the field—as well as students, clergy, amateur musicians, and dedicated supporters. Individuals wishing to join the AGO for the 2009–2010 membership year can find a local chapter online at www.agohq.org or by contacting AGO National Headquarters at 212-870-2310. For further information or to request a membership brochure, please contact Jin Kang at 212-870-2311 (ext. 7512) or e-mail email@example.com.
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.