American Guild of Organists
San Diego
American Guild of Organists
San Diego

About Our Chapter

Our Mission & History

The San Diego Chapter of the American Guild of Organists takes great pride in its history as an organization which seeks innovative ways to be a leader in promoting the organ. We welcome all organists and enthusiasts, regardless of skill or experience. We champion organ and choral music in all styles and encourage creative ways to incorporate the organ into a wide array of musical settings. We value our community, believing the relationships we share with one another are our strongest asset. We value education, offering support and resources to organists, choral directors, and up and coming organists in need of nurturing. We value inclusiveness, all are welcome here.

Chartered on March 6, 1922 after being established as a "sub-chapter" in 1917, the San Diego Chapter is part of an international professional association serving over 19,000 members across the globe. We have had the privilege of hosting regional conventions in 1969, 2001, and 2015 and Pipe Organ Encounters in 1997, 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, and 2017. Having recently celebrated our Chapter Centennial, we continue to honor our rich traditions and those who came before us and look forward to what the next 100 years have in store for us. We want you to be part of that journey and we look forward to serving you.

Spreckels Organ

Our Values

We take pride in the community we have built and the life-long friendships we have helped foster. We are a community first, it's who and what we are.
We aim to nurture all members who seek support by providing access to teachers and mentors, practical resources, scholarships, and performance opportunities.
All are made to feel welcome here, our goal is to be accessible and sensitive to the needs of all who wish to join us.

Our Board

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Rodney Girvin has served in various capacities on the board since 2016 and is honored to be the Chapter's Dean. He serves as Director of Music & Organist at First Presbyterian Church of San Diego, Director of San Diego Street Choir, and Assistant Director of Pacific Coast Chorale. He teaches private organ, piano and voice lessons to students of all ages and abilities across the United States.
Rodney Girvin
Lea Schmidt-Rogers is an accompanist, piano and organ soloist, composer and teacher. She has served the local musical community as Dean of the American Guild of Organists, San Diego Chapter, as well as President of the Music Teachers’ Association of California, San Diego Chapter. Composing and teaching are her passions.
Lea Schmidt-Rogers
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Kate Cameron
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Mitch Beauchamp
Chris Cook has served on the board for many years, most recently as Chapter Dean. He is Director Emeritus of Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church and the former Youth Concerts Organist for the Spreckels Organ Society. For five years, Chris authored the popular column “The Practical Organist,” featured in the AGO’s national publication, The American Organist. Currently, he enjoys preparing organists of all ages for their future roles as church musicians and leaders on the AGO board.
Dr. Christopher Cook
A long-time AGO Board member, Ron Jessee is the Director of Music Ministries and Organist at Pacific Beach United Methodist Church. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Southern Nazarene University and a Masters in Supervision and Curriculum from Point Loma Nazarene University. A lifetime educator, Mr. Jessee built performing arts departments, served as a high school administrator, county arts coordinator and university lecturer. His greatest passion is advocating for the organ, piano and voice as the centerpiece of church music.
Ron Jessee
Membership Coordinator
Dale Sorenson serves as Curator of the Spreckels Organ, overseeing the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world. As a craftsman with Lyle Blackinton and Associates, Inc., he has installed some of the finest organs in San Diego and beyond. A tremendous ambassador for the organ, Dale is also a working organist, serving as Music Director at Grace Lutheran Church in downtown San Diego.
Dale Sorenson
Hospitality Coordinator
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Gabriel Arregui serves as Assistant Organist at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, San Diego. A long time member of the AGO, this is Gabriel's first position on the board. A master in improvisation, Gabriel holds degrees from USC and Loma Linda University. In high demand as a concert artist, Gabriel has performed for audiences across the world, including Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.
Gabriel Arregui
Chapter Life Coordinator
Michael Lawrence is a keyboardist, published composer, and an avid practitioner of improvisation. He serves as Organist at La Mesa United Methodist Church. Michael moved to San Diego from Philadelphia in 2021 and quickly became immersed in the AGO and local music community. While living in Philadelphia, Michael served as Assistant Grand Court Organist on the Wanamaker Organ, one of the world's most famous musical instruments.
Michael Lawrence
Newsletter Editor/Webmaster
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George Butterfield
Placement Coordinator
Sarah Amos is Organist at San Dieguito United Methodist Church in Encinitas and serves as the accompanist for San Diego State University’s choral program. As Education Coordinator, she oversees the annual AGO/Spreckels Scholarship Auditions and other student events. Sarah is greatly interested in the organ’s unique role in vocal accompaniment and enjoys teaching new organists how to lead congregational singing.
Sarah Amos
Education Coordinator