Pogorzelski & Yankee Memorial Scholarships


The Ronald G. Pogorzelski and Lester D. Yankee Memorial  Scholarship is intended to support the education of talented young organists who will make significant contributions to the fields of organ playing and sacred music.  They are expected to have existing talent and achievements in the field of organ playing and an expressed commitment post-graduation to teaching, performing, sacred music, or other serious endeavor with respect to the organ.

Last winter, the AGO evaluated more than 50 applications for the Pogorzelski-Yankee Scholarships and named the first six Pogorzelski-Yankee Organ Scholars awarding them a total of $30,000 in scholarship funding for the fall semester of 2014.  Congratulations to our Pogorzelski Yankee Scholars: Chelsea Barton, Clara Gerdes, Garrett Law, Prince Nyatanga, Mary Pan, and Jacob Taylor.

The Pogorzelski-Yankee Memorial  Scholarship will be awarded for a period of up to four (4) years for undergraduate applicants and up to two (2) years for graduate school applicants.  Awards for the initial year of the scholarship (to be awarded for study in the 2014-2015 academic year) will be as follows:

  1. Four (4) undergraduate awards of $7,500 each year as follows:
    • One (1) incoming college freshman award of $7,500, annually renewable if requirements are met, for a total of $30,000 over four (4) years.
    • One (1) college sophomore award of $7,500, annually renewable if requirements are met, for a total of $22,500 over three (3) years.
    • One (1) college junior award of $7,500, annually renewable if requirements are met, for a total of $15,000 over two (2) years.
    • One (1) college senior award of $7,500 for one year.
  2. Two (2) graduate student awards of $15,000 each as follows:
    • One (1) award of $15,000 to a student entering graduate study, annually renewable for a total of $30,000 over two (2) years.
    • One (1) award of $15,000 to a student entering his or her second year of graduate study.

Two new scholarships will be awarded in 2015:  1) entering Freshman and 2) entering first year graduate student. The online application period will be 4-6 weeks beginning Jan 1, 2015
Award Notification:  On or near April 15, 2014

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Students must plan to be in one of the undergraduate or graduate years outlined above for the 2014-15 academic year.
  • Students must have a desire to commit a significant portion of the two years following graduation to teaching, performing, sacred music, or other serious endeavor with respect to the organ.
  • Students must attend, or plan to attend, a nationally or regionally accredited post-secondary institution (college, university or conservatory); by the time awards are made students must provide verification of acceptance to the institution.
  • Students must attend their institution as full-time students.
  • Students must have verifiable financial need to be awarded this scholarship.
  • Applicants may not be the children or grandchildren of American Guild of Organists’ staff members, board members, or scholarship committee members.  Applicants may not be related to Ronald G. Pogorzelski or Lester D. Yankee.

Application Requirements:

  • Students must have the ability to showcase their talent on the organ through three (3) unedited contiguous performances submitted via compressed video files, not to exceed 2 gigabytes each.
    • The total time of the three recordings combined may not exceed  30 minutes for undergraduate students (those seeking bachelor’s degrees).
    • The total time of the three recordings combined may not exceed 45 minutes for graduate students (those seeking master’s degrees).
    • You must include one composition by J.S. Bach (for a trio sonata, your Bach submission should be two sonata movements – either I & II or II & III) and two contrasting works composed after 1800 (these can be single,  stand-alone works, or movements from a multi-movement work). Applications will be strengthened when the choice of compositions allow the player to exhibit musical and technical achievement.
    • If multiple organs are used, applicants must list the type and instrument specification for each organ.
  • Students must provide two (2) letters of recommendation:
    • One (1) from their most recent organ instructor, and
    • One (1) from another music or education professional.
  • Students must compose  and submit two 500 word essays.
    • One essay will be required from both freshman and grad students : “Why do you need this scholarship? Please explain the degree of your financial need. Outline any extenuating circumstances.”
    • The second essay question for freshmen : “Describe your passion for the organ and its literature.”
    • The second essay question for first year graduates: “How will obtaining a graduate degree in organ study be of value to you in your career?”
  • Students must provide information about family income, estimated family contribution towards college, and tuition rates on which the committee can ascertain financial need.
  • Students must submit an official transcript from the most recent semester.
  • Students may be required to  submit a copy of their admissions letter, if entering college or graduate school for the first time.

Application Details:

  1. The digitally recorded videos of performances may not exceed 30 minutes for undergraduates and 45 minutes for graduate students.   The video will contain three pieces of organ music: one composed by J.S. Bach, and two additional contrasting works composed after 1800. The video must clearly show the applicant performing at the organ console. It must be of sufficient quality to ensure a fair assessment of the candidate’s abilities by the committee. Different instruments may be used; the candidate must provide a specification for each instrument used.  Individual pieces must not be edited.  See the application and the technical guidance sheet  for more requirements, details, and tips.  We strongly encourage candidates to seek assistance from a school representative, technical adviser, or instructor to complete the video requirement.   These videos will be judged on talent and performance quality. They must be uploaded to a video sharing site such as YouTube or to a similar video sharing site. You must be able to provide a link for each of the three videos that will allow the reviewers access for viewing.
  2. The essay must be written at a level of sophistication expected of an incoming or current college student, or graduate student, depending on the applicant’s status.  The essay is focused on goals, achievement and dedication, and financial need.  The essay will be judged not only on the answers to the questions, but on clarity and college-level writing ability.
  3. Two letters of support are required: one from the most recent primary organ instructor, and a second from another music or education professional.  References should underscore the applicant’s achievements, potential for future success, and qualities that align with the mission of the Pogorzelski-Yankee Memorial Scholarship.  Letters will be judged based on the recommenders’ level of knowledge and evidence about the applicant, the applicant’s perceived likelihood of success in college and career, and professional judgment about fit with this scholarship.

All materials must be received at AGO Headquarters by the submission deadline (TBA).  There is no application fee.   Applicants will be informed on or near April 15, so that they may include this information in negotiations with the school of their choice.

Scholarships will be awarded to the entering freshman and entering master’s candidate contingent upon notification of acceptance into an organ-related degree program.  As per the donors’ wishes, the students must agree in writing to commit a significant portion of the two years following graduation to teaching, performing, sacred music, or other serious endeavor with respect to the organ.

The Ronald G. Pogorzelski and Lester D. Yankee Memorial Scholarship will be renewable only if scholarship recipients maintain an overall 3.0 academic GPA in all music coursework. Those who do not maintain this grade point average or for any reason fail to maintain good standing at their academic institution will be placed on probation for a semester;  if the situation is not corrected, they will lose the remainder of the scholarship funding. It will not be reinstated. Should a recipient decide to transfer to another accredited music program, the scholarship can be transferred by the recipient if they meet all of the other requirements for maintenance of the scholarship.

The scholarship will be disbursed directly to the appropriate office of the recipient’s chosen institution.  We expect to issue two payments, one at the beginning of the fall semester and one at the beginning of the spring semester.  Before the final disbursement of the scholarship, each recipient of the Ronald G. Pogorzelski and Lester D. Yankee Memorial Scholarship must provide the committee with documentation that he/she will graduate with the intended degree. In the two years following graduation, the recipient will provide updates on organ- related activities pursued during that time.

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