The American Guild of Organists promotes the highest level of organ performance through its National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance. The Competition is intended to serve as a springboard for emerging organists to develop their performance ability by participating in the various demanding stages of this Competition. Underwriting of expenses is provided in part by the Nita Akin Competition Fund. The NYACOP Committee encourages all eligible organists to seek ever-higher levels of excellence by competing in the upcoming 2018 competition and in future years! The 2018 Official Rules were published in the March 2017 issue of The American Organist Magazine; the final round repertoire was revised August 22, 2017. Applicants who do not reside in the U.S. are responsible for understanding and complying with U.S. visa requirements as well as travel costs where applicable.

2018 Official Rules – The 2018 competition is now in progress!

2018 NYACOP Semifinalists

The nine semifinalists below will perform at the Semifinal Round to be held Thursday, June 28 in Weidemann Hall at Wichita State University, Wichita Kansas. The Final round will be held July 2, at the Village Presbyterian Church, Prairie Village, Kansas. The NYACOP committee encourages you to attend either one of these events!

Paul Byssainthe

Daniel Chang

Diana Chou

Isaac Drewes

Ryan Kennedy

Eunjae Park

Inah Park

Caroline Robinson

Aaron Tan


First Place – The Lilian Murtagh Memorial Prize, funded by Karen McFarlane Artists, Inc., Cleveland Ohio; includes a $3,000 cash award, career development assistance from Karen McFarlane Artists Inc. between September 2016 and June 2018, including publicity materials and advertising. The Jordan Prize, funded by the Jordan Organ Endowment; $10,000 to be awarded in conjunction with a Gala Solo Recital on the Jordan Family Organ in Columbus, Georgia. Additionally, a performance during the 2018 AGO National Convention, a CD recording on the Pro Organo label, and a selection of Recital Awards throughout the United States.
Second Place – $5,000, funded by Kegg Pipe Organ Builders, Hartville, Ohio. At least one Recital Award. Four 1/6-page print advertisements in The American Organist (TAO) (design costs not included).
Third Place – $3,000, funded by John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Builders, Champaign, Illinois. At least one Recital Award. Four 1/6-page print advertisements in The American Organist (TAO) (design costs not included).
Audience Prize – $1,000, funded by Martin Ott Pipe Organ Company Inc., St. Louis, Missouri.


Five finalists played at the 2016 NYACOP final round Saturday, June 18, 2016 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas. The winning players were Katelyn Emerson – First Place,  Kirk Rich – Second Place, and Weicheng Zhao – Third Place and Audience Prize.

First Place

Katelyn Emerson Katelyn Emerson has received top prizes in several international organ competitions, most recently in the U.S.A., France, and Russia. The recipient of a Fulbright Study/Research Grant, Ms. Emerson studied in Toulouse, France for the 2015-2016 school year. Ms. Emerson graduated from Oberlin College and Conservatory with double bachelor’s degrees in organ performance and French and minors in historical performance and music history. In September 2016, Ms. Emerson joins the staff of the Church of the Advent in Boston as Associate Organist and Choirmaster, working with the historic Aeolian-Skinner organ, the professional Choir of the Church of the Advent, and the volunteer Parish Choir. View the promotional video for Katelyn’s forthcoming NYACOP CD.


Visit Karen McFarlane Artists, Inc., where you will find more information about Katelyn Emerson and how you might plan a recital or chapter event. Since 1982, Karen McFarlane Artists has generously assisted AGO NYACOP winners with career guidance and support.  The concert management program they have developed is designed to educate the winner about career management  and provide an opportunity to learn firsthand what concert life is really like. A special note to chapters—hosting an AGO competition winner is the perfect chapter event! Contact Karen McFarlane Artists or AGO Headquarters.

Upcoming Recitals

June 3, 2018, 3:00 pm
Solo Organ Recital
St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Melville, NY

June 10, 2018, 4:00 pm
Solo Organ Recital
The Presbyterian Church of Mount Kisco, Mount Kisco, NY

June 15, 2018, 7:30 pm
Solo Organ Recital
Cathedral of Christ the King, Lexington, KY

July 3, 2018, 11:00 am
Solo Organ Recital
Central United Methodist Church, Kansas City, MO



Katelyn Emerson plays the Fisk organ at Finney Chapel in Oberlin, Ohio:

Past Prize Winners

2016 Katelyn Emerson – 1st Place
Kirk Rich – 2nd Place
Weicheng Zhao – 3rd Place & Audience Prize

2014 Jonathan Rudy – 1st Place and Audience Prize – Three Halls CD
HyeHyun Sung – 2nd Place
Kirk Rich – 3rd Place

2012 Daryl Robinson – 1st Place and Audience Prize Sempre Organo CD
Malcolm Matthews – 2nd Place
Thatcher Lyman – 3rd Place

2010 Dongho Lee – 1st Place and Audience Prize – Modal Inspiration CD
Anne Laver – 2nd Place
Susan De Kam – 3rd Place

2008 Michael Unger – 1st Place and Audience Prize – Universe of Poetry  CD
Andrew Kotylo – 2nd Place
Monica Harper – 3rd Place

2006 Scott Montgomery – 1st Place and Audience Prize – Water and Light  CD
Balint Karosi – 2nd Place
Robert Horton – 3rd Place

2004 Yoon-Mi Lim – 1st Place – Gifts From Above CD
Christian Lane – 2nd Place & Audience Prize
Dong-ill Shin – 3rd Place

2002 Timothy Olsen – 1st Place
Kola Owolabi – 2nd Place & Audience Prize
Christian Schmitt – 3rd Place

2000 Ji-yoen Choi – First Place
Joby Bell – 2nd Place*
Yun Kyong Kim – 3rd Place

pdf-large-type NYACOP Past Prize Winners

NYACOP Committee members

Grady Coyle, Director Email
Michael Unger Email
Kathrine Handford Email