Pogorzelski-Yankee Memorial Scholarships

The Ronald G. Pogorzelski and Lester D. Yankee Memorial  Scholarship is intended to support the education of talented young organists who will make significant contributions to the fields of organ playing and sacred music.  They are expected to have existing talent and achievements in the field of organ playing and an expressed commitment post-graduation to teaching, performing, sacred music, or other serious endeavor with respect to the organ.

Last winter, the AGO evaluated more than 50 applications for the Pogorzelski-Yankee Scholarships and named the first six Pogorzelski-Yankee Organ Scholars awarding them a total of $60,000 in scholarship funding for the 2014-15 academic year.  Congratulations to our 2014-15 Pogorzelski Yankee Scholars: Chelsea Barton, Clara Gerdes, Garrett Law, Prince Nyatanga, Mary Pan, and Jacob Taylor.

The Pogorzelski-Yankee Memorial  Scholarship is awarded for a period of up to four (4) years for undergraduate awardees and up to two (2) years for graduate school awardees. The undergraduate award is $7500 (annually); the graduate award is $15, 000 (annually). Each award is renewable annually if requirements are met.

Two new annual scholarships will be awarded in 2015:  1)$7500 for one entering college freshman and 2) $15,000 for one entering first year graduate student. The online application period began January 5, 2015 and ended February 17, 2015. Eligibility requirements are detailed below.

Award Notification:  On or near April 1, 2015
Contact AGO Headquarters: info@agohq.org

Pogorzelski-Yankee-Organ-student lesson

IUP student Nicholas Capone and faculty member Dr. Christine Clewel at the Pogorzelski-Yankee organ


Eligibility Requirements for January 5-February 17, 2015 applications:

  • Students must plan to be an entering college freshman or an entering first year graduate student.
  • Students must have a desire to commit a significant portion of the two years following graduation to teaching, performing, sacred music, or other serious endeavor with respect to the organ.
  • 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.
  • Students must attend their institution as full-time students.
  • Students must have verifiable financial need to be awarded this scholarship.
  • 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:

  • Students must have the ability to showcase their talent on the organ through three (3) unedited contiguous performances submitted via compressed video files, not to exceed 2 gigabytes each.
    • The total time of the three recordings combined may not exceed  30 minutes for undergraduate students (those seeking bachelor’s degrees).
    • The total time of the three recordings combined may not exceed 45 minutes for graduate students (those seeking master’s degrees).
    • 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). Applications will be strengthened when the choice of compositions allow the player to exhibit musical and technical achievement.
    • If multiple organs are used, applicants must list the type and instrument specification for each organ.
  • 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.
  • Students must compose  and submit two 500 word essays.
    • One essay will be required from both freshman and graduate students : “Why do you need this scholarship? Please explain the degree of your financial need. Outline any extenuating circumstances.”
    • The second essay question for freshmen : “Describe your passion for the organ and its literature.”
    • The second essay question for first year graduate students: “How will obtaining a graduate degree in organ study be of value to you in your career?”
  • Students must provide information about family income, estimated family contribution towards college, and tuition rates from which the committee can ascertain financial need.
  • Students must submit an official transcript from their high school or college.
  • Students will be required to  submit a copy of their admissions letter.

Application Details:

  1. The digitally recorded videos of performances may not exceed 30 minutes for undergraduates and 45 minutes for graduate students.   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.  See the application and the technical guidance sheet  for more requirements, details, and tips.  We strongly encourage candidates to seek assistance from a school representative, technical adviser, or instructor to complete the video requirement. These videos will be judged on talent and performance quality. They must be accessible for viewing on a video sharing site such as YouTube or a similar video sharing site. You must be able to provide a link for each of the three videos that will allow the reviewers access for viewing.
  2. Each essay must be written at a level of sophistication expected of an incoming or current college student, or graduate student, depending on the applicant’s status.  The essays will be focused on goals, achievement and dedication, and financial need.  The essays will be judged not only on the answers to the questions, 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 recommenders’ level of knowledge and evidence about the applicant, the applicant’s perceived likelihood of success in college and career, and professional judgment about fit with this scholarship.

All materials must be received at AGO Headquarters by the submission deadline, February 17, 2015.  There is no application fee.   Applicants will be informed on or near April 1, so that they may include this information in negotiations with the school of their choice.

Scholarships will be awarded to the entering freshman and entering master’s candidate contingent 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, sacred music, or other serious endeavor with respect to the organ.

The Ronald G. Pogorzelski and Lester D. Yankee Memorial Scholarship will be 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.  We expect to issue two payments, one at the beginning of the fall semester and one 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. In the two years following graduation, the recipient will provide updates on organ- related activities pursued during that time.

AGO Questions and Answers 2015-16
More About Letters of Recommendation