2018 AGO Gala Report


Celebration of the Lifetime Achievements of Internationally Recognized
Organist Raised $24,000 Benefitting the AGO Endowment Fund

The American Guild of Organists (AGO) paid tribute to John Ferguson at its fifteenth annual Gala and Endowment Fund Distinguished Artist Award celebration on Friday, April 27. The evening began with a hymn festival led by John Ferguson at St. Olaf College, where he had served as professor of organ and church music and cantor to the student congregation for three decades.

AGO President Michael Bedford, aago, chm, presented the John Ferguson with the AGO Endowment Fund Distinguished Artist Award “for his illustrious career as a church musician, educator, and performer, and faithful support of the mission of the American Guild of Organists.” Ferguson responded saying “It is an honor to accept this award; I do so on behalf of church organists everywhere who have dedicated their lives to being on the bench every week.”

An audience of more than 750 colleagues, students, friends, and loved ones filled the pews of Boe Memorial Chapel on St. Olaf’s campus to celebrate Ferguson’s lifetime achievements and dedication to sacred music. The honoree was joined by the 75-voice St. Olaf Cantorei, James Bobb, conductor; and five church choirs from the Twin Cities, conducted by Anton Armstrong.

The hymn festival was Internet livestreamed to an audience of nearly 400 viewers. More than 800 viewers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and twelve countries have now watched the video on demand. It can be found online.

A Gala Benefit Reception followed at the Northfield Arts Guild with 75 guests in attendance. The celebration was sponsored by the AGO National Council and its Finance and Development Committee in cooperation with St. Olaf College. The event raised more than $24,000 to be invested in the AGO Endowment Fund in Ferguson’s honor. Annual earnings from the Endowment support the educational activities of the Guild.

Established in 1994, the AGO Endowment Fund provides income to educate new organists and to cultivate new audiences for organ and choral music. Tax-deductible contributions to the Endowment Fund are invested in perpetuity to produce continuing income for essential Guild programs and educational projects. The AGO Endowment Fund Distinguished Artist Award and annual Gala travels around the country to celebrate distinguished members of the organ world, to raise awareness for the Endowment Fund, and to secure gifts to strengthen it.

Past AGO Gala honorees have included Marie-Claire Alain (2002, New York City), Charles Callahan (2014, St. Louis), David Craighead (2006, Philadelphia), Gerre and Judith Hancock (2004, New York City), Wilma Jensen (2016, Nashville), Joyce Jones (2010, Fort Worth), Marilyn Keiser (2013, New York City), Joan Lippincott (2017, Princeton), Marilyn Mason (2009, Ann Arbor), Thomas Murray (2011, New Haven), John Obetz (2007, Kansas City), Frederick Swann (2008, Los Angeles), Ladd Thomas and Cherry Rhodes (2015, Glendale), and John and Marianne Weaver (2012, Philadelphia).

Those unable to attend the 2018 Gala will receive a copy of the commemorative program book with their contribution of $25 or more to the AGO Endowment Fund. Contributions in honor of John Ferguson can be made online or by mailing a check to: AGO Endowment Fund, 475 Riverside Drive, Suite 1260, New York, NY 10115. All gifts will be acknowledged in The American Organist. For further information, please call 212-870-2311, ext. 4308, or e-mail gala@agohq.org. ■