The American Guild of Organists (AGO) presented its twelfth annual Endowment Fund Distinguished Artist Award Recital and Gala Benefit Reception honoring Cherry Rhodes and Ladd Thomas on Friday, April 17, at the First United Methodist Church of Glendale, California where Dr. Thomas has served as organist for 55 years. An audience of more than 500 colleagues, students, friends, and loved ones came together to celebrate the lifetime achievements of this dynamic musical couple.
The Gala was sponsored by the AGO National Council and its Development Committee in cooperation with the First United Methodist Church of Glendale. The event raised approximately $60,000 to be invested in the AGO Endowment Fund in the couple’s honor. Annual earnings from the Endowment support the educational activities of the Guild. The honorees performed a recital that included Mendelssohn’s Sonata No. 1 in F Minor (Thomas), Moussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, transcribed by Jean Guillou (Rhodes), and combined their talents on the organ bench in a rare organ duet performance of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Dukas, as arranged by Rayner Brown for their exclusive use. The Gala Benefit Reception followed at the Hilton Los Angeles North/Glendale Hotel with 200 guests in attendance.
AGO President John Walker, FAGO, presented the honorees with the AGO Endowment Fund Distinguished Artist Award “for their exemplary careers as stellar performers and passionate teachers, and their lifelong service to the AGO and the sacred music profession.”
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’s annual Gala travels around the country to celebrate distinguished members of the organ world. Past AGO Gala honorees have included Marie-Claire Alain (New York City), Charles Callahan (St. Louis), David Craighead (Philadelphia), Gerre and Judith Hancock (New York City), Joyce Jones (Fort Worth), Marilyn Keiser (New York City), Marilyn Mason (Ann Arbor), Thomas Murray (New Haven), John Obetz (Kansas City), Frederick Swann (Los Angeles), and John and Marianne Weaver (Philadelphia).
Those unable to attend the 2015 AGO Gala will receive a copy of the commemorative program book with their contribution of $50 or more to the AGO Endowment Fund. Contributions in honor of Cherry Rhodes and Ladd Thomas can be made online 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 information, please call 212-870-2311, ext. 4308, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.