AGO Young Organists

The AGO Young Organists (AGOYO) is an inclusive community of emerging organist members up to the age of 30 years old. AGOYO provides professional support to its members through engagement at face-to-face events and through online collaboration with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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AGOYO Convener:

Jillian Gardner is an award-winning performing organist with an international touring schedule that spans the United Kingdom, Canada and the U.S. She is also the National Convener for the American Guild of Organists Young Organists as well as the Director of Music at First United Methodist Church in Huntsville, AL, where she serves as primary organist and oversees more than 10 ensembles for adults and children.

A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory and Baylor University, Gardner is a first-prize winner of the chapter level competition of the Regional Competition for Young Organists and in 2017, she took second prize in the Québec organ competition in Québec, Canada. In recognition of her achievements, The Diapason magazine selected Gardner as one of the inaugural “Top 20 under 30” organists in the nation.

Gardner has performed concerts in venues including Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago, St. Mary’s Cathedral, San Francisco, and St. Thomas 5th Avenue, NYC. As well as in the U.K. at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, St. Paul Cathedral in London, and St. Mary Redcliffe Church in Bristol, and has been honored as featured artist for the Organ Historical Society Conventions in Syracuse, NY (2014) and Minneapolis, MN (2017).

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Members of the National Board of the AGO Young Organists (AGOYO)

Samantha Scheff is a Master’s student at Rutgers University where she studies with Renée Anne Louprette. This season included solo recitals at Marble Collegiate Church in NYC, National City Christian Church in Washington D.C., the Hall of Philosophy in Mount Gretna, PA and Christ Episcopal Church in New Brunswick, NJ.  Samantha was the second place winner in the 2019 Brooklyn AGO Competition and the 2019 West Chester University Organ Competition. She received first place in the 2017 DC AGO/Quimby chapter competition. While at the University of Maryland, College Park, she served as organ scholar at the historic New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. Samantha currently serves as Director of Music and Organist at Trinity Episcopal Church in Asbury Park, NJ.

Zach Hastings, a native of Iowa, is the Director of Worship and Music at St. Stephen Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Urbandale, IA, where he conducts the Chancel Choir and serves as organist. He is a graduate of Iowa State University, with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. His principal teachers include Dr. Miriam Zach, Ruth Harris, Ahreum Han Congdon, and Dr. Tin-Shi Tam. Hastings is currently serving as a Member-at-Large on the Central Iowa AGO Chapter while also pursuing Pre-Medical studies at Iowa State University, with aspirations to attend medical school after completing a Master’s in Music.

Caitlin Dowling Emily Caitlin Dowling currently serves as Music Associate/Organist at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, GA. Caitlin previously served at West End United Methodist Church as Music Intern/Assistant Organist in Nashville, TN from 2015-2017. She holds a Master of Music degree in Organ Performance at Mercer University as a student of Dr. Jack Mitchener and a Bachelor in Piano Performance. She is a two-time past winner of the Macon AGO Quimby Young Organist Competition and has appeared in recitals across the Southeast and Europe. Caitlin has been on the board of AGOYO since 2015 and also serves on the Atlanta 2020 Steering Committee.

Jordan Prescott has been heralded by The Baltimore Sun as a “rising organ star.” He established himself as one of the leading organists of his generation. He holds the Bachelor of Music in Organ from East Carolina University and the Master of Music in Organ from Peabody Conservatory. A recipient of the coveted Dean’s Fellowship, Jordan is currently pursuing the Doctor of Musical Arts in Organ at Peabody. He is an active recitalist throughout the United States and was named one of Diapason’s ’20 Under 30’ in 2019. In addition to his work with AGOYO, Jordan sits on the executive board of the Baltimore Chapter.

Olga Wong is pursuing a Master of Music in Organ Performance at University of Houston where she studies with Daryl Robinson. She received Master of Music in Piano Performance from Stephen F. Austin State University and Bachelor of Music with First Class Honors from Hong Kong Baptist University. Recent awards include 2019 Biggs Scholar(Organ Historical Society), 2018 AGOYO Scholarship for Kansas City Convention, and 2017 French Organ Music Seminar Scholarship in Europe. Olga currently serves as the Principal Organist at St. Martha Catholic Church (Kingwood, TX). She spreads her passion for music through roles such as a performer, educator, and music judge for young students.