July 30, 2010
NEW YORK CITY—The American Guild of Organists (AGO) bestowed its two highest awards of national distinction at its Annual Meeting on Wednesday, July 7, held in conjunction with the 50th biennial AGO National Convention in Washington, D.C. AGO President Eileen Guenther presided over the award ceremony.
The AGO PRESIDENT'S AWARD was presented posthumously to Messrs. Ronald G. Pogorzelski and Lester D. Yankee of New Hope (Bucks County), Pa. The prestigious award, created in 1988, is presented biennially to recognize outstanding contributions to the art of the organ in the United States. The 2010 President's Award recognized Messrs. Pogorzelski and Yankee for their "dedicated support of the Guild and generous patronage of the King of Instruments through the endowment of a new music competition, scholarship awards, and the bequest of a pipe organ for the educational purposes of the AGO."
The award was accepted on the recipients' behalf by their nephew, Dale J. Marsico. In his acceptance remarks, Marsico expressed his gratitude for being asked to accept his uncles' award, and gave a personal account of their lives:
"Their relationship of almost five decades was a successful professional one, but just as importantly, an abiding and more important personal one. That professional partnership helped to create the gift you acknowledge today.
In their early years, their business success included developing artistic forms of lighting that brightened homes and businesses. They also built ornamental lighting that hangs in several state capital buildings and other less well-known governmental institutions. In a way, the gift that they made to you, is really another kind of light, one that not only makes it easier to see things, but easier to reach places in the heart that only music can reach.
According to my uncles, the heart is reached easier through the use of organ music than any other musical form. Their music collection, music room, pipe organ, and Ron's playing ability were testimony to their love of the instrument. This gift is a testament to their hopes that future generations might come to enjoy—to love and appreciate organ music as they did. They felt that their bequest to American Guild of Organists offered the best opportunity for that possibility."
Marsico concluded by asking AGO members to contribute to the Guild as his uncles had done:
"They always knew a good investment when they saw it. So, I'll close by asking all of you to consider doing all you can to support this wonderful organization and the great work it is doing for all of us."
Past recipients of the AGO President's Award include: Clementine Miller Tangeman, Alice Tully, Mr. and Mrs. A.D. Hulings, Amelia Lay Hodges, J. Michael Barone, Roberta Bitgood, fago, chm, Edward A. Hansen, aago (posthumously awarded), Anthony Baglivi, Craig R. Whitney, Pleasant T. Rowland, and Mr. and Mrs. Wesley C. Dudley.
The AGO EDWARD A. HANSEN LEADERSHIP AWARD was presented to AGO Past President Frederick Swann of Palm Springs, Calif. The award was given "in recognition of his stellar career as a concert artist and church musician, and in gratitude for his lifetime of leadership, devoted service, and extraordinary generosity to the Guild."
In his acceptance remarks, Swann declared:
"Ed Hansen was a superbly gifted scholar, musician, and administrator who gave unstintingly of his time and gifts to the AGO over many years. It was my good fortune to work with him on many projects. I am sincerely humbled and grateful for this honor you bestow on me today in his name. I am also grateful beyond expression for the friendship and support of a veritable host of AGO members over the years."
Created by the AGO National Council in 1999 to honor the memory of the Guild's distinguished past president, Edward A. Hansen, AAGO, the prestigious award is presented biennially to recognize individuals who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the AGO. Swann concluded:
"Because I have been greatly blessed with high profile professional appointments and opportunities throughout my entire career, I have always felt that it behooved me to do my best to promote the cause of great organ and choral music in as many religious and educational areas as possible. The AGO has been an excellent vehicle for me to do this. I have definitely received far more than I have given. I can assure you that as long as I am allowed to continue in this life—and am able to do so—I will continue to do what I can to advance the work and influence of the American Guild of Organists."
Previous Hansen Award recipients include: Karen McFarlane Holtkamp, Ruth M. Caswell, Joyce S. Hesketh, Betty Jean Bartholomew, D. DeWitt Wasson, chm, and Marianne Webb.
FREDERICK SWANN is university organist and artist teacher of organ at the University of Redlands, and organ artist-in-residence at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, Calif. He is past president of the American Guild of Organists and organist emeritus of the Crystal Cathedral and of the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. In addition to his prominent church positions, which also include the Riverside Church in New York City (1957–1982), he was chairman of the organ department at the Manhattan School of Music for ten years and served on the faculties of the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary and Teachers College of Columbia University.
Mr. Swann has played recitals in churches, cathedrals, and concert halls throughout North America and abroad, and appeared with symphony orchestras and choral groups. Although in semi-retirement since 2001, Swann remains active in all aspects of his long and illustrious career. Among his recent honors was his election in 2002 as Performer of the Year by the New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. In the fall of 2004, he was selected to play the inaugural recital on the spectacular new organ in the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. In 2008, Swann played two preview recitals at the Orange County Performing Arts Center and recorded the first CD on this major new instrument.
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.