The AGO’s choral competition can be traced back to Walter Clemson, an AGO 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. Building on that history and experience, in 1985 the AGO Committee on New Music created a new choral competition first with 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. See the 2024 guidelines.
Award: $2,000 cash prize, publication of the piece by ECS Publishing, and a world premiere performance at the 2024 AGO National Convention in San Francisco, California.
2024 AGO/ECS Publishing Award in Choral Composition
Brooke Joyce’s music has been described as “vividly pictorial” (San Francisco Chronicle) and “exceptionally gripping” (Los Angeles Times) and has been performed by soloists and ensembles around the world, including the Indianapolis Symphony, the Cincinnati Symphony, the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic, the Brentano Quartet, the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, the Nash Ensemble, and James Gilchrist. In addition to his concert music, Brooke collaborated on several musical theater works with playwright Frederick Gaines, including Unbekannt, a musical based on the life of the famous Anastasia pretender Anna Anderson, and An Imaginary Line, based on the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. He has also composed an evening-length work for solo singer, dancers and electronics, The Showing of Love, based on the writings of Julian of Norwich, as well as an adaptation of Arnold Lobel’s beloved children’s book, Owl at Home.
A CD of his chamber music, Waves of Stone, was released on the Innova label in 2009, and according to MusicWeb International, features “dramatic pieces which are rhythmically energetic, with … a sense of underlying strength of will.” Brooke is the recipient of the Joseph Bearns Prize, the Wayne Peterson Prize, the Darius Milhaud Award, and many citations from the National Federation of Music Clubs and ASCAP.
Brooke is the Composer-in-Residence at Luther College and a founding faculty member of the International Music Festival of the Adriatic. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and sons Keegan and Kyle, in a quiet neighborhood in Decorah, a small town in northeast Iowa.
2022 AGO/ECS Publishing Award in Choral Composition
Jessica French was awarded the 2022 AGO/ECS Publishing Award in Choral Composition for her commissioned piece, Earth, Strike Up Your Music. The 2022 award called for a work for SATB choir and organ with congregational participation, utilizing the text of a poem, Christmas Eve, by Christina Rossetti. Earth, Strike Up Your Music was premiered at the AGO 2022 National Convention in Seattle, Washington.
Jessica French is a Seattle-based composer and soprano. As a composer, she specializes in choral music, both sacred and secular. Her works have been commissioned and performed by various ensembles including Seattle Pro Musica, Northwest Girlchoir, Seattle Girls Choir, Choral Arts Northwest, and Opus 7 Vocal Ensemble. She has a rare neurological ability called synesthesia, in which various senses are linked to one another, mainly in the form of colors associated with notes, timbres, and words. This ability lends a unique voice to her writing style, which has been described with terms such as “lyrical, sweeping lines…deeply impassioned…atmospheric…shimmering harmonies.” As a soprano, Jessica sings with Choral Arts Northwest, and is also a section leader at St. James Cathedral and Epiphany Parish in Seattle.
Jessica received her foundational training in music while attending the Madeleine Choir School in Salt Lake City, Utah. She received a Bachelor of Music degree in Organ Performance from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and a Master of Music degree in Organ Performance from Yale University. After moving to the Seattle area in 2011, Jessica refocused her musical efforts toward composition, and has composed and arranged nearly thirty choral works during that period.
Listen to past AGO/ECS awarded compositions.
2020 AGO/ECS – Where In God’s Truth (SATB & organ) by Shawn Crouch
2018 AGO/ECS – Deep River, ECS #8561 (SATB & organ), by Mary Beth Bennett
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 Listen to Psalm VIII
1984-85 (not associated with Möller or ECS) —Let There Be Light, ECS #3169, (SATB, organ) by Gilbert Martin
M. Jonathan Ryan, MM, FAGO, ChM, ex officio (Vice President/Councillor for Competitions and New Music) Email
AGO Headquarters Email