Pogorzelski-Yankee Memorial Scholarships

The Ronald G. Pogorzelski and Lester D. Yankee Memorial  Scholarships are intended to support the education of talented young organists who will make significant contributions to the fields of organ playing and organ studies.  Applicants are expected to have existing talent and achievements in the field of organ playing and an expressed commitment for post-graduation to teaching, performing, or other serious endeavor with respect to the organ. Applicants must also demonstrate financial need and have already completed a FAFSA application. The next online application period will be January 1 to February 15, 2020.

The AGO Committee on Continuing Professional Education will review the scholarship applications and determine the award recipient. The applicant’s present performance ability is necessarily the starting point; however, applications are judged by the potential for future performance excellence at the organ, and whether financial support will make a crucial difference in the applicant’s career as an organist. For other scholarship opportunities, see our online list of additional academic scholarships.

Frequently asked questions

Listen to two past scholarship recipients!

The Pogorzelski-Yankee Memorial  Scholarships are presently awarded for a period of up to four (4) years to four undergraduates. One entering college freshman scholarship was awarded for the 2019-20 academic year ($15,000 annually).  Each award is renewable if requirements are met.

Current Pogorzelski-Yankee Scholarship Awardees for the 2019-20 Academic Year

Luca Cantone, College Freshman Award – Oberlin Conservatory of Music
Aaron Patterson, College Sophomore Award – Curtis Institute of Music
Kateri Andress, College Junior Award – Ave Maria University
Alden Wright, College Senior Award – Eastman School of Music
Allen Young – Second Year Graduate Award – Eastman School of Music

For more information about the scholarship program, contact AGO Headquarters.

  1. Student applicants must plan to be an entering college freshman in the 2019-20 academic year.
  2. Students must have a desire to commit a significant portion of the two years following graduation to teaching, performing, or other serious endeavor with respect to the organ.
  3. Students must attend, or plan to attend, a nationally or regionally accredited post-secondary institution (college, university, or conservatory); by the time awards are made students must provide verification of acceptance to the institution.
  4. Students must attend their institution as full-time students.
  5. Students must have verifiable financial need to be awarded this scholarship.
  6. Membership in the AGO is not required.
  7. Applicants may not be the children or grandchildren of American Guild of Organists’ staff members, board members, or scholarship committee members.  Applicants may not be related to Ronald G. Pogorzelski or Lester D. Yankee.

Application Requirements for the 2019-2020 entering freshman award (subject to change):

  1. Students must have the ability to showcase their talent on the organ through four (4) unedited contiguous performances. Outstanding performances can occur at any playing level. Performances will be judged based on the quality of the performance, not the difficulty of the music. The focus should be on achieving excellence in performance at the level the applicant plays.
    • The total time of the three recordings combined should not exceed  30 minutes .
    • If multiple organs are used, applicants must list the type of instrument for each organ.
    • You must include one composition by J.S. Bach (for a trio sonata, your Bach submission should be two sonata movements – either I & II or II & III) and two contrasting works composed after 1800 (these can be single, stand-alone works, or movements from a multi-movement work).
    • Additionally, perform one of the following hymns: 1) Of the Father’s Love Begotten – Divinum mysterium, 2) All Creatures of our God and King – Laast uns erfreun, or 3) Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven – Lauda anima.  The performance of this hymn is not  to be counted as a part of the “30” minute time limit. An introduction, and a full rendering should be included, as if you were leading your congregation in singing the entire hymn.
  2. Students must provide two (2) letters of recommendation:
    • One (1) from their most recent organ instructor, and
    • One (1) from another music or education professional.
  3. Students must compose  and submit two (up to 750 words) essays.
    • “Why do you need this scholarship? Please explain the degree of your financial need. Outline any extenuating circumstances.”
    • Describe your passion for the organ and its literature.
  4. Students must provide information about family income, estimated family contribution towards college, and tuition rates from which the committee can ascertain financial need.
  5. Students must submit an official transcript from their high school or college.
  6. Students will be required to  submit a copy of their admissions letter.

Application Details

  1. The  recorded videos of performances may not exceed 30 minutes.   Performances of three organ pieces are required: one composed by J.S. Bach, and two additional contrasting works composed after 1800. Each video must clearly show the applicant performing at the organ console. It must be of sufficient quality to ensure a fair assessment of the candidate’s abilities by the application reviewers. Different instruments may be used; the candidate must provide a specification for each instrument used.  Individual pieces must not be edited.   We strongly encourage candidates to seek assistance from a school representative, technical adviser, or instructor to complete the video requirement. The video quality achievable by a later model  smart phone is sufficient.
  2. Each essay must be written at a level of sophistication expected of an incoming or current college student.  The essays should focus on goals, achievement and dedication, and financial need.  The essays will be judged not only on their content, but on clarity and college-level writing ability.
  3. Two letters of support are required: one from the most recent primary organ instructor, and a second from another music or education professional.  References should underscore the applicant’s achievements, potential for future success, and qualities that align with the mission of the Pogorzelski-Yankee Memorial Scholarship.  Letters will be judged based on the recommender’s level of knowledge and evidence about the applicant and the applicant’s perceived likelihood of success in college and career.

All materials must be submitted online by the application deadline. There is no application fee.  Applicants should be informed on or near April 1, so that they can include this information with the school of their choice.

A scholarship will be awarded to the entering freshman upon notification of acceptance into an organ-related degree program.  As per the donors’ wishes, the students must agree in writing to commit a significant portion of the two years following graduation to teaching, performing, or other serious endeavor with respect to the organ.

A Ronald G. Pogorzelski and Lester D. Yankee Memorial Scholarship is renewable only if scholarship recipients maintain an overall 3.0 academic GPA in all music coursework. Those who do not maintain this grade point average or for any reason fail to maintain good standing at their academic institution will be placed on probation for a semester;  if the situation is not corrected, they will lose the remainder of the scholarship funding. It will not be reinstated. Should a recipient decide to transfer to another accredited music program, the scholarship can be transferred by the recipient if they meet all of the other requirements for maintenance of the scholarship.

The scholarship will be disbursed directly to the appropriate office of the recipient’s chosen institution.  Two payments will be issued, one at the beginning of the fall semester and the other at the beginning of the spring semester. Before the final disbursement of the scholarship, each recipient of the Ronald G. Pogorzelski and Lester D. Yankee Memorial Scholarship must provide the committee with documentation that he/she will graduate with the intended degree.