McNeil Robinson 1943-2015

The American Guild of Organists is sad to announce the death of internationally renowned organist and composer McNeil Robinson on Saturday, May 9, 2015, in New York City, following a long illness. The Guild extends its deepest sympathies to his family and friends, especially his wife, Cristina Cassellato Robinson. McNeil Robinson, who chaired the organ department at the Manhattan School of Music for more than two decades, was a world renowned improvisateur who taught more winners in the AGO National Competition in Organ Improvisation than any other teacher. He was a commissioned composer for the AGO National Conventions in San Francisco (1984), Boston (1990), and New York City (1996). Mr. Robinson served as organist of New York City’s … [Read more...]

June 2015 TAO Chapter News

Northeast Region New Haven, CT March 7, at First Church, Middletown, the chapter hosted a silent-film event featuring member Shari Lucas and two films from the Roaring Twenties. The audience loved the pre-performance lecture and the elegant and entertaining presentation of films. Funds were raised to support the AGO North­east Regional Convention taking place in New Haven this summer. March 14, the chapter presented a successful Pedals, Pipes & Pizza event, with about 20 guests, at United Church on the Green and Woolsey Hall at Yale. Presenters and hosts were Caesar Storlazzi, Simon Jacobs, Joseph Dzeda, George Fergus, and Lars Gjerde. Chapter members, presenters, and guests had a blast. The chapter is thankful that the … [Read more...]

May 2015 TAO Feature Article

Blair School of Music, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Lake City, IA By Carl Smith When entering the Blair School’s Steve and Judy Turner Recital Hall, concertgoers do not encounter a hall of memorably imposing architectural grandeur but rather a welcoming space whose warmth and general ambience contribute greatly to the extensive music making that takes place in it each year. A major factor in the experience of music in Turner Hall (both aurally and visually) is the wood that inconspicuously surrounds the listener yet confronts his or her every glance. When the decision was made to give the new organ’s case a traditional form, it was quickly decided that painting the case would not be suitable in … [Read more...]

April 2015 TAO Feature Article

Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Paul, Minnesota Quimby Pipe Organs, Inc., Warrensburg, Missouri By T. Daniel Hancock The Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota, is a striking study in early 20th-century French Classicism. Constructed from 1906 to 1915 in the best of the Beaux-Arts tradition, the building is sited atop Cathedral Hill, a commanding point overlooking the Mississippi River, where its dome, together with the nearby state capitol dome, constitute two of the most recognizable icons in the St. Paul skyline. The structure is the magnum opus of French-American architect Emmanuel Louis Masqueray (1861–1917), who was also chief of design for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in St. Louis in 1904. In addition to its status as … [Read more...]

Pittsburgh to Host 2015 AGO Mid-Atlantic Regional Convention

David Briggs, Chanticleer, Nathan Laube, and Ann Elise Smoot will be among the featured artists at the 2015 AGO Mid-Atlantic Regional Convention. Venues will include Westminster Presbyterian Church, Trinity Cathedral (Pittsburgh), St. Paul Cathedral (Pittsburgh), Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Sacred Heart Parish, Heniz Chapel, First English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Epiphany Catholic Church, East Liberty Presbyterian Church, and Calvary Episcopal Church. The convention runs from June 21-24. More information and a registration form are available at the AGO 2015 Mid-Atlantic Region Convention Website … [Read more...]

AGO Honors Cherry Rhodes & Ladd Thomas at Glendale, California Gala

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. View a slideshow of photos of the Gala 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 … [Read more...]

Southern Plains Chapter (OK) to host Pipe Organ Encounter Advanced and Pipe Organ Encounter-Technical

The Southern Plains Chapter in Oklahoma is hosting this year’s Pipe Organ Encounter Advanced and Pipe Organ Encounter-Technical. Some interesting things you may not know about Oklahoma and this year’s POE events there: - Faculty members for the POEA and POETech represent some the nation's leading collegiate organ teachers. - The University of Oklahoma is the largest college in the state with nearly 31,000 students. - Through its American Organ Institute, OU is the only educational institution to offer degree emphases in organ technology, available at the baccalaureate and master’s level. - Instruments at the University include the 1999 CB Fisk in Gothic Hall (with nearly 5 seconds of reverberation) and "Mini Mo," a portion of the … [Read more...]

Meet the 2015 NCOI Semifinalists

In December, 2014, twelve organists entered the 2015 competition. Working with a proctor, each competitor created a CD recording in January which was returned to AGO Headquarters in accordance with the procedure outlined in the rules. A panel of three judges, Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra, Emma Lou Diemer, and Jason Roberts, reviewed the recordings (which remained anonymous) and selected five semifinalists. The upcoming semifinal round will be held in conjunction with the 2015 Southeast AGO Regional Convention in Charlotte on July 1, 2015 at First United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. By showcasing the art of improvisation at a regional convention, the NCOI committee hopes to build interest throughout the Guild for this … [Read more...]

AGO/Quimby Regional Competitions for Young Organists are Underway

The first round of the 2015 AGO/Quimby Regional Competitions for Young Organists has now ended. The competition begins at the chapter level; competitors may compete in any chapter competition held within the AGO region of their home or school. This year 27 chapters had AGO/Quimby RCYO events and those events are now over. The winners from those chapter events advance in turn to the final round, held concurrent with the seven Regional Conventions. The seven regional winners, the 2016 Rising Stars,  will play next year at the  AGO National Convention in Houston, TX. Meet the 2015 chapter winners in the RCYO section! … [Read more...]

Wilbur Held Dead at Age 100

Wilbur Held, a resident of Claremont, California, passed into life everlasting on March 24, 2015, at age 100. The AGO remembers with gratitude his service as a National Councillor (1968–1971) and dean of the Columbus (Ohio) Chapter. A celebration of his lifetime of music composition resulted in a Centenary Edition of his organ works, published by MorningStar Music in 2014. Wilbur Held was born on August 20, 1914, in Des Plaines, Illinois. He enrolled at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, studying organ with Frank van Dusen and theory/composition with John Palmer, and earned undergraduate and graduate degrees there. Midway through his studies, he became Leo Sowerby’s assistant at St. James Church—an association that lasted … [Read more...]