Student Competition

North Central Regional AGO/Quimby 2021 Competition Winner

By Mary Newton

The North Central AGO/Quimby Regional Competition for Young Organists was held virtually on Saturday, May 8 and Sarah Palmer (the April 17 Twin Cities chapter winner) was awarded first prize. As the regional winner, Sarah will receive $1,000 from the National AGO and will be a Rising Star performer at the 2022 National Convention in Seattle. Sarah is a student at St. Olaf College and studies organ with Dr. Catherine Rodland.

The judges for this round of competition were Kris Langlois (Concordia University, St. Paul), Greg Peterson (Luther College, IA), and Eileen Hunt (former Vice President of the AGO/Councilor for Competitions and New Music).

Congratulations, Sarah!


The Twin Cities AGO is pleased to announce the winners of the AGO 2021 Quimby Competition

By Mary Newton

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the 2021 AGO/Quimby Regional Competitions for Young Organists were virtual competitions. The Twin Cities competition was held on Saturday, April 17. In consultation with the National AGO and TCAGO chapter dean David Jenkins, a scenario was agreed upon that minimized risk to everyone involved and still allowed the Twin Cities to be a venue for the competition.

On the day of the competition, the three judges – Laura Edman, Jacob Benda and Sam Backman – and I gathered in person at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Minneapolis to listen to the recordings. We all wore masks and observed social distancing. We had an excellent sound system and the recordings were of high quality. There were three competitors who submitted recordings, and the schools represented were St. Olaf College, Northfield, and Dordt University, Sioux Center, Iowa. Each recording was played without interruption, like an in-person performance. After hearing all three recordings, the judges deliberated and chose the first and second place winners.

The first-place winner, Sarah Palmer, St. Olaf College organ student of Dr. Catherine Rodland, won the $2,000 award sponsored by the Schubert Club. She will go on to represent the Twin Cities at the regional virtual competition on May 8. Additionally, one of her recordings was featured on the May 2 TCAGO Chapter Virtual Meeting.

The second-place winner, Katie Gunn, St. Olaf College student of Cathy Rodland, won the $1,000 award, which was generously sponsored by TCAGO member Phil Asgian. A recording of hers was featured on the May 2 TCAGO Chapter Virtual Meeting.

A special thank you to the judges for being a part of this competition and to Sam Backman for hosting our group at Holy Cross! I am grateful we could host a competition this year.


First Place Winner: Sarah Palmer


Junior, St. Olaf College, and Student of Cathy Rodland

Sarah Palmer is a junior at St. Olaf College studying with Catherine Rodland. She began studying the organ two years ago. During the summer of 2019, she attended the Jacobs Organ Academy at Indiana University and studied with Christopher Young. She has transcribed many pieces for the organ and is currently focused on music for concert band. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys reading, exercising, and playing the piano and trumpet.


Second Place Winner: Katie Gunn


photo credit: Grace Alexander

Sophomore, St Olaf College, and Student of Cathy Rodland

Katie Gunn is a sophomore at St. Olaf College pursuing a B.M. in Church Music/Organ. She is a student of Dr. Catherine Rodland and Organ Scholar at Colonial Church of Edina, MN. Katie studied with Carol Rosenthal and Dr. Mattilda Middleton prior to her time at St. Olaf. Growing up in Indianapolis, she sang in the choir of Christ Church Cathedral from 2007-2019. She has attended numerous RSCM courses: the Carolina Course in 2015 and 2017-2019 and the Washington, D.C. Course in 2016. In the summer of 2020, Katie was an intern at the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation in Indianapolis.

Congratulations to both!


For more information contact:

Dr. Mary Newton, Competition Coordinator

3930 Lancaster Lane, #220

Plymouth, MN 55441

Cell: 612-581-3106

e-mail: Mayanewton@yahoo.com




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