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. 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 NYACOP Rules
Recording Verification Form
Submit an online 2018 application


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

July 4, 2017, 12:30 pm
Église Saint-Gilbert
Montreal, Quebec

July 9, 2017, 7:00 pm
First Congregational Church
Deer Isle, ME

July 26, 2017, 7:00 pm
Christ Episcopal Church
Charlottesville, VA


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

Past Prize Winners

2016 Katelyn Emerson – 1st Prize, Kirk Rich – 2nd Prize, Weicheng Zhao – 3rd Prize & Audience Prize
2014 Jonathan Rudy – 1st Prize and Audience Prize – Three Halls CD, HyeHyun Sung – 2nd Prize, Kirk Rich – 3rd Prize
2012 Daryl Robinson – 1st Prize and Audience Prize Sempre Organo CD,  Malcolm Matthews – 2nd Prize, Thatcher Lyman – 3rd Prize
2010 Dongho Lee – 1st Prize and Audience Prize – Modal Inspiration CD, Anne Laver – 2nd Prize, Susan De Kam – 3rd Prize
2008 Michael Unger – 1st Prize and Audience Prize – Universe of Poetry  CD, Andrew Kotylo – 2nd Prize, Monica Harper – 3rd Prize
2006 Scott Montgomery – 1st Prize and Audience Prize – Water and Light  CD, Balint Karosi – 2nd Prize, Robert Horton – 3rd Prize
2004 Yoon-Mi Lim – 1st Prize – Gifts From Above CD, Christian Lane – 2nd Prize & Audience Prize,  Dong-ill Shin – 3rd Prize
2002 Timothy Olsen – 1st Prize, Kola Owolabi – 2nd Prize & Audience Prize,
2000 Ji-yoen Choi – First Prize
1998 Ann Elise Smoot – First Prize
1996 Heather Hinton – First Prize
1994 Douglas Cleveland – First Prize
1992 Martin Jean – First Prize
1990 Matthew Dirst – First Prize
1988 Christopher Young – First Prize
1986 Michael Farris – First Prize
1984 Mark Laubach – First Prize
1982 Brett Wolgast – First Prize
1980 Jeffrey Walker – First Prize

pdf-large-type NYACOP Past Prize Winners

NYACOP Committee members

Grady Coyle, Director Email
Michael Unger Email
Kathrine Handford Email