AGO/Marilyn Mason Award in Organ Composition

Access the online application! The submission deadline is July 1, 2018.

The AGO/Marilyn Mason Award in Organ Composition is held every two years. Originally known as the AGO/Holtkamp Award, the competition began in partnership with the Holtkamp Organ Company in 1984. In 2012, Marilyn Mason became the new sponsor. The winner of this competition receives a $2,000 prize, publication of the piece by Hinshaw Music Inc., A Fred Bock Music Company, and a world premiere performance at the AGO National Convention.  The present procedure is to call for proposals for the commission of an organ solo work. Rather than prescribed criteria, the competition encourages proposals that reflect a composer’s particular strengths and interests.  A finished piece may also be submitted if it fills the criteria of the guidelines. This competition is biennial and calls for a work for organ solo; the specific requirements vary each year the competition is held.

Award: $2,000 cash prize provided by Marilyn Mason, publication by Hinshaw Music Inc., and a premiere performance at the 2016 AGO National Convention in Houston, Texas. Listen to awarded compositions from past competitions.

The 2020 competition guidelines were be published in the April, 2018 issue of The American Organist; the application deadline is July 1st, 2018.

2018 AGO/Marilyn Mason Award in Organ Composition

Mark Kurtz is the 2018 AGO/Marilyn Mason Award winner. His composition, Re-Formations (after Bach), will be premiered next year at the 2018 AGO National Convention in Kansas City, Missouri.  Mark Kurtz is an avid performer and his compositions are full of surprises, whether he is doing jazz riffs on a pipe organ, composing choral music for the words of cutting-edge theologians, playing meditative recitals in total darkness, or encouraging children to come to his concerts dressed-up and ready to dance. He is the music director at First United Methodist Church in Omaha and Associate Director and Collaborative Pianist for Resonance, a professional choral ensemble. He has received commissions  from the Willa Cather Foundation, the Anti Defamation League, and the River City Mixed Chorus.

Mark Kurtz: “In the organ work, Re-Formations (after Bach), my source material is three chorale preludes for organ by the 18th Century master. These are paired with material not typically associated with Baroque organ music: early modernism and 20th century popular music and dance styles. The chorale tunes and Bach’s figurations remain recognizable, but they are not merely quoted or arranged. They are “re-formed” to become elements within the themes and structures of three new movements.”


AGO/Marilyn Mason award winning pieces available from Hinshaw Publishing

2016 AGO/Marilyn Mason Award—The Moonpiper, Hinshaw Music HMO193, by Ivan Božičević
2014 No prize was awarded
2012 AGO/Marilyn Mason Award—Festive Voluntary, Hinshaw Music HMO191, by Nicholas O’Neill
2010 AGO Award—Theme and Variations on Le P’ing, Hinshaw Music HMO190, by Michael Bedford
2008 AGO/Holtkamp Award—Prelude and Fugue in F Minor, Hinshaw Music HMO187, by Rachel Laurin
2006 AGO/Holtkamp Award—Six Sketches on Children’s Hymns, Hinshaw Music HMO183, by Barrie Cabena
2004 AGO/Holtkamp Award—A Sweet for Mother Goose, Hinshaw Music HPO3009, By George Akerley
2002 AGO/Holtkamp Award—What Wondrous Love Is This, O My Soul?, Hinshaw Music HMO179, by Emily Porter
2000 AGO/Holtkamp Award—Song of Ruth and Naomi, Hinshaw  Music HMV116, by David Arcus
1998 AGO/Holtkamp Award—Confitemini Domino, Hinshaw Music HMO175, by Carlyle Sharpe
1996 AGO/Holtkamp Award—Fantasia and Fugue on St. Theodulph, Hinshaw Music HMO173, by Aaron Hunt & Three Spirituals for Palm Sunday, Hinshaw Music HMO174, by Robert Greenlee
1994 AGO/Holtkamp Award—Variations Sur Un Vieux Noel, Hinshaw Music HMO171, by Timothy Tikker
1992 AGO/Holtkamp Award—That Line Which Is Earth’s Shadow, Hinshaw Music HPO3008, by Ellen Harrison
1990 AGO/Holtkamp Award—A Practical Progam for Monks, by Frank Ferko
1988 AGO/Holtkamp Award—Variations for Organ and Percussion, by Martin Matalon
1986 AGO/Holtkamp Award—Perceptions of Antiquity, Hinshaw Music HMO153, by Timothy Kramer
1984 AGO/Hotkamp Award—What Seraphs Are Afoot, Hinshaw Music HMO148, by Ingrid Arauco

Committee on New Music
Louise Mundinger, MM, Director  Email
David J. Hurd, Jr., MusD  Email
Carol Feather Martin, MM Email
Alexander Meszler, MM  Email

Eileen Hunt, AAGO, DMA, ex officio (Vice President/Councillor for Competitions and New Music)  Email

AGO Headquarters  Email