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Our History

The American Guild of Organists Orange County Charter was signed in 1950, by Dean Margaret Scharle, along with Barbara Allen, Doris Billings, Virginia Burk, Glenn Daun, Billie Deaver, Margaret Hackett, Vivian Harmon, Lloyd Holzgraf, Ethel Kneeland, Beth McPheeters, Connie McPheeters, Allen Revell, and Edna Woodson.

Over the past seventy-two years, membership has increased considerably, and the chapter has been an inspiration to the community through its recitals, master classes, worship services, lectures, and workshops. Such events have featured local artists as well as performers of national and international renown.

For many years now, the OCAGO has spearheaded several events to attract young organists, including two Pipe Organ Encounters (2001 and 2010) and several Pedals, Pipes and Pizza events. We are most proud of our ongoing Study Grant Program (originally chaired by Alice Fields in the 1990’s), which offers scholarships to young organ students and features them in an annual recital. Limited scholarships are also available for first-time organ students.

This chapter has had the privilege of hosting two Regional Conventions. The first was in 1983, chaired by Richard Unfried, with Philip Riddick as Program Chair. The second was in 2019, chaired by Alicia Adams, with Tom Mueller and John Romeri as Program Co-Chairs.

Orange County is home to many fine instruments, from those in churches of all sizes and denominations to the William J. Gillespie Concert Organ (Fisk, Opus 130) in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. We are proud of the heritage of the pipe organ in this community, along with some fine digital and combined digital/pipe instruments.