The Nashville Chapter of the American Guild of Organists was founded in 1933. Membership during the 1930s was about 20 or 25. In 1938 the Chapter hosted the Tri-State (Tenn., Miss., Ark.) Convention, with recitals by Pietro A. Yon and Thomas Webber. During the 1940s, Claire Coci presented a recital at Ward Belmont — now Belmont University.

The 1950s was an active decade for our chapter. Warren Hutton, Arthur Croley, Cyrus Daniel, Richard Thomasson, and Arthur Henkel played recitals on the new Moller organ at West End Methodist Church. In 1956, the name was changed from Central Tennessee Chapter to Nashville Chapter. Virgil Fox was presented in recital at Neely Auditorium.

During the 1960s, members Richard Thomasson (Belmont Methodist), Greg Colson (First Lutheran), Marc Ritchie (Belle Meade Methodist), and Helen Midkiff (Belmont College) played dedication recitals on new organs. The Southern Region Convention was held here in June of 1963; featured recitalists were Scott Withrow and Robert Powell.

Activities of the 1970s included sponsoring Catharine Crozier in a recital on the new Schantz organ at First Baptist Church. The Tennessee State Convention was held in Nashville during May 1975, with recitals by Stephen Hamilton, John Brock, and McCoy Ransom. Long-time members Sydney Dalton, Richard Thomasson, Arthur Croley, Alex Koelline, and Marie Hayes passed away during this period.

Events of the 1980s included hosting the Region IV Convention in 1983. During the convention, the new Moller organ at West End United Methodist was featured in a hymn festival with Paul Manz. Marilyn Mason and Marie-Claire Alain were sponsored in recitals at First Baptist Church.

The 1990s brought NYACOP winners Heather Hinton and Ann Elise Smoot to Nashville for recitals. Masterclasses were presented by Robert Glasgow, Fred Swann, and Todd Wilson. The chapter hosted the Region IV Convention in 1995.

Our chapter continued its active pace when the new millennium arrived. Celebrations marking the 70th (2003) and 75th (2008) anniversaries of its founding were held. During the summer of 2005, the P.O.E and P.O.E + brought teenage and adult students to Nashville for a week of fun and learning. The Nashville chapter has experienced rapid growth during the past several years. Membership was 204 at the end of the 2014–2015 season.

In July 2012, the chapter achieved another milestone by hosting the A.G.O National Convention. Members of the Steering Committee invested several years of hard work to make this a memorable and successful event. The Nashville A.G.O. looks back with pride upon its rich history as it rises to meet the challenges of coming years.

After hosting the 2012 AGO National Convention in Nashville, the chapter has continued to offer regular meetings, special programs, and educational activities regularly each year.  Chapter members volunteering for leadership roles and participating in programming continued to help the chapter thrive.

New organs are always exciting, and in the fall of 2012, we went to Murfreesboro to hear the new LeTourneau organ (II/25, Op. 125) at St. Paul Episcopal Church.

In November, notable French organist, Vincent Dubois, presented a concert at McAfee Concert Hall at Belmont University.

One special program in 2013 was the American Premier of Yves Castagnet's MASS SALVE REGINA at West End United Methodist Church.  Chapter member Don Marler was conductor with French organist, Oliver Latry, and chapter member Andrew Risinger as organists.

Chapter programs featured a number of guest organists including John Walker, Wyatt Smith, and Barry Jordan (Madeburg, Germany).  The National AGO President Eileen Guenther installed chapter officers at the May meeting.

In 2014-2015, a wide variety of programs included a choral reading session by member Wilma Jensen, organ concerts by Daryl Robinson, Lynne Davis, Alan Morrison, and the Concordia College Choir directed by Rene' Clausen.

A very special event in 2016 was a program honoring our chapter member, Dr. Wilma Jensen! She was selected as the National AGO Distinguished Artist of the Year! Wilma presented a well-attended organ concert at West End United Methodist Church followed by special reception at Vanderbilt University Club.

Prepared by Melvin Potts
Chapter Historian
Retired, 2015

Julia Callaway, Chapter Historian