Announcement of The American Guild of Organists 2020 Convention Atlanta

Announcement of The American Guild of Organists 2020 Convention Atlanta

AGO National Convention

ATLANTA IS PROUD to host the American Guild of Organists National Convention in the summer of 2020. With “A Kaleidoscope of Color and Sound,” we celebrate the diversity of experiences, races, ages, and cultures in Atlanta.

As the center of the Civil Rights movement, Atlanta made an impact on the world of culture and music. In this spirit, we are featuring historically significant venues, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s place of baptism and ordination, Ebenezer Baptist Church, as well as America’s oldest private historically black liberal arts college for women, Spelman College.

While in Atlanta, we hope you’ll take time to visit The King Center and the Civil Rights Museum, the Georgia Aquarium, and the Coca-Cola Museum, all just a short walk from the convention hotel. Atlanta also has many diverse neighborhoods just outside of the downtown area. Take a quick trip and explore this Southern “foodie” town.

We are excited by our roster of performers and world premieres:   

  • The 2020 St. Cecilia recitalist, Alan Morrison, of the Curtis Institute of Music, will be performing the premiere of an exciting composition by Rachel Laurin titled “Mr. Mistoffelees Overture.” This virtuosic symphonic tone poem, based on a poem by T.S. Eliot, is filled with contrasting and colorful atmospheres around three main themes.

  • Our opening concert will feature Thomas Ospital, Titulaire of the Grand Orgue at the Eglise Saint-Eustache in Paris. Ospital is a young artist who has quickly earned a place amongst the world’s finest concert organists. He is also eager to perpetuate the art of improvisation in all of its forms.

  • Isabelle Demers, Organ Professor at Baylor University in Texas, will play in Sisters Chapel at Spelman College, a place which is rooted in Feminism theory and practice, and which maintains a tradition of bringing to the forefront issues of importance to women of African descent.

  • Thursday night, we will be at two venues on the Emory University Campus. Emerson Concert Hall and Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church will feature the Atlanta Master Chorale, Organist Jens Korndoerfer, and Trumpeters Mark Hughes and Micah Wilkinson.

  • The closing concert, conducted by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Director of Choruses, Norman Mackenzie, will feature  Katelyn Emerson, Martin Jean, and Peter Marshall playing concertos with members of the ASO.

The 2020 Convention Steering Committee commissioned works by seven composers. Three of the selections are for organ and choir and were composed by Jonathan Bailey Holland, Eric Nelson, and Julian Wachner.  A duet by Australian June Nixon for organ and two trumpets, two virtuoso works commissioned of David Briggs and Rachel Laurin, and a work by Brenda Portman using “A-T-L-A-N-T-A” as her melodic framework round out our slate of new music.

Celebrating the Atlanta interfaith community’s long and significant role as leaders for justice confronting issues of civil and human rights, the worship services will be held in historic spaces along the Peachtree Street corridor. We begin at Ebenezer Baptist Church, in the neighborhood still echoing the voice of Martin Luther King Jr., moving up the street to The Temple, bombed at the height of the Civil Rights Movement but rebuilt and standing witness for social justice in the city. From there we move on to Peachtree Christian Church, the Catholic Cathedral of Christ the King, and the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip. Traditional musical styles and new voices and songs will both reflect the dynamic religious life of the city and inspire our ministry.

Organs featured include: 

  • The Great Organ of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church, installed in 2002 by Mander Organs of London, England, the largest mechanical-action organ ever built by a British firm and imported to America.

  • The magnificent Aeolian-Skinner Organ at the Episcopal Cathedral of Saint Philip, with its gothic architecture and glorious acoustics.

  • Johns Creek United Methodist Church is home to the restored Aeolian-Skinner organ originally built for Trinity Church, Wall Street.

  • The Werner Wortsman Memorial Organ, built by North American builder Daniel Jaeckel, is located in the Emerson Concert Hall in the Schwartz Center of Emory University.

Exciting Workshops include:

  • Transcribing Beethoven’s Symphonies as we join the rest of the world in celebrating the 250th Anniversary of Beethoven’s birth

  • Robert Shaw: Probing the Mind of a Master

  • Repertoire Matters for Youth Choirs

  • Musical Freedom in Various Periods of History

  • Mental Wellness and Performance Anxiety

  • Introducing Pianists to the Organ

  • Handbells – Back to the Basics!

  • Escaping the Written Page: Techniques for Beginning Improvisation

  • Be Still My Soul: Pastoral and Practical Musical Resources for Weddings and Funerals

  • Reading Sessions from multiple publishers

From the Atlanta airport baggage claim, you are merely steps away from the MARTA train (Atlanta’s mass transit system), that will whisk you right into the city and to our hotel in just a matter of minutes.  The hotel is very convenient to many of our venues and has a wide variety of restaurants on-site.

Register early for the Atlanta AGO National Convention to take advantage of great early bird savings. The sooner you register, the more you will save!  Though some venues are within easy walking distance from the hotel, we heartily recommend that you sign up for the bus transportation package to all venues when you register for the convention.

We are excited about showcasing a variety of worship experiences, world-class organists, fantastic instruments, and dynamic clinicians during our convention. We can’t wait to see you in our wonderful city and we plan to show you some of the Southern hospitality for which we are known! See you in July!

Nicole Marane, D.M.A.

AGO National Convention Coordinator