The AGO Student Commissioning Project is the AGO’s most recent new music initiative. Each year, grants of $1,000 are awarded to four collaborative composer-and-organist pairs for the composition and performance of four new works for the organ. In the fall, as the academic year begins, a student pair submits a joint application describing a proposed work and its performance. There are no restrictions with regard to a work’s compositional style; however, all composers and organists must be enrolled as full- or part-time students at an accredited U.S. college, university, or conservatory. After the new work is approved by the AGO Committee on New Music, the organist must premiere the work and present two additional performances. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this procedure has been amended for the 2020-21 projects. 2020-21 Project Guidelines
Award: Four grants of $1,000 will be awarded each year to four composer and organist pairs by the AGO Committee on New Music.
Four composer-organist student pairs were selected in the fall of 2020: Marina Lee (composer) and Elena Baquerizo (organist) at Juilliard, Ethan Haman (composer) and Abe Wallace (organist) at Yale, Andrew Harris (composer) and Andrew Jacob (organist) at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and Ziyu Wang (composer) and Valerie Harris (organist) at Arizona State University.
Elena Baquerizo plays Helix Variations by Marina Lee
The Helix Variations explores the coloristic possibilities of the organ. As the Helix of the title suggests, there is a common DNA thread running throughout, and as the exploration progresses, the original theme always preserves its basic nature.
Abe Wallace plays Southern Harmony by Ethan Haman
This suite for organ takes its title and source material from William Walker’s 1835 hymnbook Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. Each movement is based on one tune from the collection. The work’s harmonic landscape is also derived from Walker’s hymnbook. The interval of a perfect fifth is extensively used and taken to its logical extreme. The end result is an exciting organ suite that brings new life to old melodies.
Valerie Harris plays Suite for Organ by Ziyu Wang
Suite for Organ is a musical commentary of 2020. It expresses loss, remembrance, frustration, hope, and irony, all embedded in the baroque/classical forms of toccata, waltz, elegy, and galop.
Andrew Jacob plays Psalm 46 by Andrew Harris
Psalm 46 is a biblical passage which illustrates the difference between light and dark, good and evil, fear and protection. Although fear and darkness may take over, the text of the psalm highlights that the Lord will protect us, and that His light will prevail, providing peace and comfort. There is no reason to fear.
Committee on New Music
Louise Mundinger, MM, Director Email
David J. Hurd, Jr., MusD Email
Carol Feather Martin, MM Email
Alexander Meszler, DMA Email
M. Jonathan Ryan, Councillor for Competitions and New Music Email
AGO Headquarters Email