Saginaw Valley

Last updated: January 15, 2014 at 21:57 pm

Message from the Dean 


More than forty members are listed on the roster of the Saginaw Valley Chapter AGO. These men and women occupy organ benches and/or choir pews in the Great Lakes Bay Region, Michigan’s Thumb, and the Sunrise Coast. Organists, teachers, builders, and mentors, these musicians serve in religious institutions, schools, and civic roles. Some members enjoy retirement. All members are dedicated friends of the organ.

The Saginaw Valley Chapter is a financially stable nonprofit organization led by a dedicated volunteer board. Robert Van Nostrand, Treasurer, dependably oversees the chapter’s operating funds; he serves in a dual role as registrar. With the assistance of chapter members and community volunteers, Robert Sabourin, Sub-Dean, has organized several affordable programs bringing the organ, choral music, and composition to regional/national spotlight. Ed Soehnlen completed his term on the board in June 2013. He served on the panel of jurors for the May scholarship auditions. To fill his vacancy I have appointed Adrienne Wiley, who serves on the Kent S. Dennis Memorial Scholarship Committee. Organist of the Memorial Presbyterian Church and piano pedagogue, she is the most capable liaison to assist with the scholarship named in memory of her predecessor.

Among the chapter’s purposes, I remain especially committed to the Kent S. Dennis Memorial Scholarship: education. Due to the Internal Revenue Code, the chapter will regain stewardship of the scholarship funds exceeding $20,000. At its August meeting, the membership decided to invest funds with the Midland Community Foundation.

I also encourage the chapter’s leadership to contemplate in advance programs and financial requests of churches or other organizations whose programs align with our goals. Chapter members are encouraged to submit program ideas directly to me or to the Sub-Dean.

Board positions will open in 2014. A Nominating Committee will be formed later in the year to form a slate of officers for 2014-2015. Please contemplate your ability to actively and responsibly serve the chapter.

S. D. G.

Nicholas E. Schmelter

Dean, Saginaw Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists
1205 Burbank
Saginaw, Michigan 48638

Director of Music, First Congregational Church
403 S. Jefferson Ave.
Saginaw, MI 48607


Local Events

Events for the 2013-2014 season are listed below. Performers are needed for the September, November, April, and July dates. Please let Bob Sabourin (989.631.4996) know if you are interested.

September 15, 2013 – 5:00 p.m.
Potluck and Home Organ Visit, Social
Don Sandor Residence, Bay City

The 2013-2014 season opens with potluck and organ music social! Take part in fellowship at the home of member Don Sandor, whose residence pipe organ was featured in The Bay City Times in October 2011. The potluck event will begin at 5:00 p.m. Please bring a side dish – a salad, vegetable dish, appetizer, or the like – for the meal. Bring a favorite organ selection to play to explore the tonal colors of the instrument: a hymn, an excerpt from a larger or shorter work, a study piece, or the like. RSVP by phone (989.631.5877) or e-mail ( to Tom Wegener.

October 5, 2013 – 1:30 p.m., 2:15 p.m., 3:00 p.m.
Bay City Organ Crawl
First Presbyterian Church, First Congregational Church, Scottish Rite Masonic Center

The annual “organ crawl” returns to Bay City, where AGO members and the community will explore instruments at three historic venues. Enjoy architectural and musical treasures.

November 10, 2013 – 7:00 p.m.
Kent S. Dennis Memorial Organ Recital
The Memorial Presbyterian Church, Midland

A musical collage performed by chapter members, including recent Dennis scholarship recipients – local organists will perform the annual Kent S. Dennis Memorial Organ Recital. Guests are encouraged to make a free-will offering to benefit the Kent S. Dennis Memorial Scholarship, which encourages and enriches the musical education of present and future church or synagogue organists in the region.

April 27, 2014 – 4:00 p.m.
Celebration of Catholic Organ and Choral Music at the Mother Church of the Diocese
St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, Bay City

The Saginaw Valley Chapter AGO sponsors a special musical program celebrating one of the Diocese of Saginaw’s oldest parishes. Music taken from the Roman Catholic Church’s heritage will be sung and performed on the recently restored Kilgen organ from 1930.

May 9, 2014 – 7:00 p.m.
Organ Recital, Fred Swann
First Congregational Church, Saginaw

Celebrate the restoration of the Skinner organ with a performance by Fred Swann, revered international perform and past President of the American Guild of Organists.

May 11, 2014 – 4:00 p.m.
Evensong and Installation of Officers
Trinity Episcopal Church, Bay City

Elected officers will commit themselves to effective leadership at a sung service at historic Trinity Episcopal Church.

July 6, 2014 – 4:00 p.m.
Concert of Patriotic Music for Organ, Choir, and Assembly
Trinity Episcopal Church, Bay City



Contact Brian Sutherland to receive the most updated SVCAGO Newsletter.

Newsletter Editor
Brian Sutherland
604 Townsend St.
Midland, MI 48640



Please visit the AGO national website at for detailed membership information.


Consider involving yourself in and with chapter happenings. Contact a chapter leader to volunteer. Do you have other talents to contribute with your colleagues?

- Participate in chapter programs.
- Serve the chapter’s Nominating Committee.
- Become active with the volunteer leadership board.
- Take an active role supporting new organists by serving the Scholarship Committee.
- Function in a role of hospitality at chapter events.
- Suggest program ideas to the Sub-Dean.
- Practice each day.



Employers and job seekers are invited to post and search listings of available positions on the Guild’s National Website.





Contact Us


Nicholas Schmelter
1205 Burbank Pl.
Saginaw, MI 48638

Nicholas Schmelter, Dean
Robert Sabourin, Sub-Dean
Thomas Wegener, Past Dean
Robert Van Nostrand, Tresurer
Andrea Alexander, Secretary
James Gladstone, Member-at-Large
John Olson, Member-at-Large
Adrienne Wiley, Member-at-Large


The prestigious Royal Canadian College of Organists.
England’s own Royal College of Organists.
The official website of the Organ Historical Society.
An indispensable, comprehensive site for anyone with a penchant for organ stop trivia.
Scores and midi files for an impressive collection of hymns.
A “virtual” trek through the great organ locations of Britain.
One man’s obsession with organ trivia and his own collection of “dream organs.”
The Web home of renowned Canadian organ builder Casavant Freres.
Visit this page and support the preservation of the world’s largest organ – the 1930 Midmer-Losh in Atlantic City’s Convention Hall.

AGO National website