Greenville, SC

Chapter of the American Guild of Organists
The Robert and Nancy Powell Scholarship and Organ Competition

Jacob Gruss has won the Greenville (SC) Chapter 2023 Robert & Nancy Powell Scholarship Competition $2,500 prize.

Organist Jacob Gruss is a second-year undergraduate at the Juilliard School in New York City studying in the studio of Paul Jacobs. A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Jacob was fortunate to develop his musical interest through generous teachers and prominent church music positions. In high school, Jacob was Director of Music at Otterbein United Methodist Church (Greensburg), Assistant Organist at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral (Greensburg), and Sacred Music Intern at St. Bernard Church (Mt. Lebanon). Jacob recently completed a two-year music intern position at Hitchcock Presbyterian Church in Scarsdale, NY. This fall, he will be named Organ Scholar at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. Jacob placed first in the Westmorland Symphony Orchestra's Young Artist Competition, and first in the Cassel Competition sponsored by the Harrisburg AGO. Additionally, he placed second in the 2023 AGO Quimby Northeast Regional Competition.

Jacob is grateful to be the recipient of the American Guild of Organists' Pogorzelski-Yankee Memorial Scholarship, and the Guild's 2022-23 Student Commissioning Project. Eager to broaden his knowledge of both the organ and its repertoire, Jacob has performed in numerous masterclasses including those with John Salveson, Caroline Robinson, Gordon Turk, and Gregory Hand. Beyond the organ, Jacob studies Choral Conducting, Composition, Improvisation, and Organ Literature.

We will get an opportunity to hear Jacob perform here in South Carolina next June '2024 at Christ Episcopal Church, Greenville. Here is a sneak preview:

"Recognizing the Past While Reaching Towards the Future."

$2,500* Award for 2024

(Visit us again in Feb 2024)

A scholarship fund was established in 2022 to honor Robert Powell, FAGO, organist and composer of hundreds of choral and organ service pieces of published music, along with his wife, Nancy Powell, AAGO, also a consummate organist. They have served the Greenville community for decades as leaders and role models for the organists and church musicians of this community. A $2,500* scholarship will be awarded in June 2024 to an undergraduate student studying organ at an American college, conservatory, or university, in pursuit of a career in organ performance, church music or music education. The winner, to be announced in July 2024, will also be offered an opportunity to travel to Greenville to play a recital.

The application process includes writing a short essay and submitting a recording of two standard organ pieces (Bach and Romantic). Application deadline is June 1, 2024.

Click here for the .doc application form and detail instructions (check your Download area for the .doc). Please email the completed application or for any application questions.

*The Greenville AGO Chapter is also pleased to inform scholarship applicants that John Polo is also the Program Director of the Greater Bridgeport AGO Chapter M. Louise Miller – Paul E. Knox Scholarship. Both scholarships have the same criteria and timeline but submitted separately and have separate judges. This is a unique opportunity to win up to $5,000 in scholarships. That application is available at this link.

John Polo
Program Director, Powell Scholarship – Greenville AGO Chapter

Current Judges/Committee

  • Dr. Ed Dunbar - Retired Professor Organ, Bob Jones University, Greenville, SC
  • Rev. Dr. Jim Parham - Trinity Lutheran, Greenville, SC
  • Mr. Donald Duncan - Director of Liturgy & Music, Christ Church, Episcopal, Greenville, SC
  • Mr. Robert Glick - Retired Professor Organ, Erskine University/First Presbyterian Church, Greenwood, SC
  • Mr. Vance Jenkins - Director of Music & Principal Organist, Buncombe Street Methodist Church, Greenville, SC
  • Dr. Brennan Szafron - Organist & Choir Master, Holy Cross Episcopal Church, Tryon, NC
  • Dr. Will Thomas Cleveland - Director of Music & Organist, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Greenwood, SC

Scholarship Sponsors – The Meagley Fund at Buncombe Methodist Church, Christ Church Episcopal Greenville, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church Greenville, Mark and Mary Bebensee, Dr. Ed and Pam Dunbar, Mr. Richard Simms, Mr. & Mrs. James Jackson, Mr. David Kral, Mr. & Mrs. John McKay & April Huguenin, The Reverend & Mrs. William Shand III, The Music Club of Greenville, Crescent Music Club, Columbia AGO Chapter, Spartanburg AGO Chapter, Anderson Chapter AGO Chapter, Greenville AGO Chapter

For additional on Robert and Nancy Powell, see this Member Spotlight.

Become a Powell Scholarship Sponsor or Donor - the scholarship is designated program within the Greenville Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, a 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. Individuals can use the donate link on this website. Checks can made out to the Powell Scholarship Greenville American Guild of Organists, c/o John Polo, Treasurer, 26 Appian Circle, Simpsonville, SC 29681. Thank you in advance for helping us build this scholarship.