The AGO’s choral competition can be traced back to Walter Clemson, a Guild founder. Mr. Clemson sponsored a prize for choral composition in 1896 where the first prize was a gold medal worth $50. An AGO competition in choral composition continued in several different formats for much of the past century. Listen to past awarded compositions. In 1985, building on that history and experience, the AGO Committee on New Music created a new choral competition with first M. P. Möller and then ECS Publishing as the award sponsor. The AGO/ECS Publishing Award is now held in alternate years and attracts a wide variety of submissions. The competition seeks outstanding compositions for SATB chorus and organ in which the organ plays a distinctive and significant role; requirements vary for each competition. The winner of this competition receives a $2,000 prize, publication of the piece by ECS Publishing, and a world premiere performance at the AGO National Convention. The 2018 competition guidelines were announced in the April, 2016 issue of The American Organist; the application deadline was July 1st, 2016.
2016 AGO/ECS Publishing Award winner Michael Gilbertson
Michael Gilbertson has been awarded the Fifteenth AGO/ECS Publishing Award in Choral Composition for his commissioned piece, The Voice of the Lord. The 2016 award called for a proposal for commission of a new festive Psalm setting for SATB choir (without divisi), organ, and trumpet. Mr. Gilbertson’s proposal was selected from more than fifty submissions.The competition generated a wide variety of submissions from composers reflecting diverse strengths and interests. They were reviewed by a panel of three judges—Carson Cooman, Louise Mundiger, and Donald Nally. The Voice of the Lord, was premiered at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston, Texas, June 22nd, in conjunction with the 2016 AGO National Convention.
Michael Gilbertson has studied composition at The Juilliard School and the Yale School of Music . His works have been programmed by ensembles including The Juilliard Orchestra, the Washington National Opera, the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra as well as many others. Gilbertson’s music can be heard in the 2006 documentary Rehearsing a Dream, which was nominated for an Academy Award. The Voice of the Lord is a psalm setting of Psalm 29 whose descriptive passages provide a strong formal outline for a short musical work. Mr. Gilbertson has set this psalm in a way which allows the organ to enhance the psalm’s theatrical imagery.
Listen to the 2014 winning ECS composition, Kyrie eleison, by Ivan Božičević
AGO/ECS awarded compositions
2016 AGO/ECS – The Voice of the Lord, ECS#8384, (SATB, trumpet & organ), by Michael Gilbertson
2014 AGO/ECS – Kyrie eleison, ECS #8034, (SATB & organ), by Ivan Božičević
2012 AGO/ECS—There is a Flow’r, ECS #7780, (SATB & organ, for Advent), by Alan Smith
2010 AGO/ECS—May Your Life Be Filled With Gladness, ECS #7424, (SATB, organ, optional oboe) by Neil Stipp
2008 AGO/ECS—Rejoice the Lord is King, ECS #6992, (SATB, organ) by Stephen Fraser
2006 AGO/ECS—The Day of Pentecost, ECS #6547, (SATB, organ) by Barrie Cabena
2004 AGO/ECS—Psalm 96, ECS #6207, (SATB, organ, trumpet in C) by Michael Bedford
2002 AGO/ECS—Laudate Nomen, ECS #5783, (SATB, organ) by Carlyle Sharpe
2000 AGO/ECS—Gloria, ECS #5420, (SATB, harp, organ) by Aaron Travers
1998 AGO/ECS—Psalm 122, ECS #5143, (tenor solo, SATB & organ) by Carlyle Sharpe
1996 AGO/ECS—God’s Grandeur, ECS #5037, (SATB & organ) by Don Freund
1994 AGO/ECS—Welcome All Wonders, ECS #4813, (SATB, organ) by James Hopkins
1991 AGO/Möller Award—The Peace Which Passeth Understanding, ECS #4672,
(SATB, organ) by James Hopkins
1989 AGO/Möller Award—Love Divine, All Loves Excelling, ECS #4382, (SATB, organ) by James Gardner
1987 AGO/Möller Award—Psalm VIII, ECS #4143, (soprano solo, SATB, organ) by David Evan Thomas
1984-85 (not associated with Möller or ECS) —Let There Be Light, ECS #3169, (SATB, organ) by Gilbert Martin