President: Peter King
The IAO comprises over 6,000 members worldwide and is open to all lovers of the organ and its music. Whilst many of our members are indeed organists and/or choir trainers, our wide range of programmes (many of which are arranged by our 90 affiliated associations) have a wide appeal to all. We are a dynamic and progressive organisation which always welcomes new members. To join today, follow this link.
A brief history
To understand the IAO, you have to see it in the context of its nearly 90 affiliated associations. Over 150 years ago, there was much discussion in The Musical Times about establishing an association to preserve the general interests of organists. However, nothing much happened until 1889 when a group of organists was invited to bring an “organist of distinction”as a guest to a Christmas meal. Due to the unchanged constraints of the season, the meal took place on 2nd January 1890; it was such a success that by March 1890, the Wakefield and District Organists’ Association was formed. Over the next quarter century other associations began to crop up until May 1913 when a meeting took place in Stockport with the express purpose of discussing the question of forming a federation: it was unanimously decided that the various associations should be affiliated and that everyone should meet in Manchester on November 15th, 1913, to elect officials. At this November meeting the National Union of Organists’ Association was established and the first Congress was held in 1920 in Stockport. The Quarterly Record, subsequently renamed Organists’ Review, first appeared in 1915 under the editorship of John Brook. However, by 1931 times had changed so much that the Union evolved into the Incorporated Association of Organists (IAO) was born. The IAO was incorporated as a company in 1927 and registered as an educational charity (No. 269986). Since then, some associations have ceased to exist and new ones have taken their place. The total membership is now well over 6,000, with about 5,000 members in the UK and the rest living all over the world.
The purpose of the IAO remains the same, to help provide education and training relative to organists (playing, interpreting, caring for the organ and so on) and the wider public. The IAO may also speak on important issues with a united voice and enable its members and affiliated associations to extend the range of their activities without financial risk. Its President and officers constantly seek opportunities to provide new services and to keep members up-to-date through the quarterly Organists’ Review.