Youngstown Chapter

Last updated: September 3, 2014 at 5:35 am

Message from the Dean 


Welcome to Youngstown, Ohio, and to our local chapter of the American Guild of Organists web page. A chapter of 52 members, we serve Youngstown and its surrounding areas.

Our membership is not limited only to organists, but embraces all who enjoy and promote worship through music and song. Together we work to improve the quality of musical and liturgical performance within our community.

Annually, we provide a variety of educational programs to enrich our personal skills which are free to members and friends. These events include recitals, lectures, workshops, and choral presentations. Light refreshments follow the events for interaction among those in attendance. We have an exciting listing of upcoming events for March, April, and May. Please refer to our Events Section for details.

We encourage any musician from student to retiree to join us and enhance our endeavors towards achieving our motto: “Soli Deo Gloria.”


Local Events


13 Sat     CHRISTIAN LANE, Organ                         1:30 pm
Associate Organist, Harvard University
Ford Chapel, Allegheny College
Meadville, PA

21Sun     ORGAN DUET PROGRAM                        4:00 pm
Mark Thewes & Chad Pittman
Church of the Savior United Methodist
120 Cleveland Avenue SW , Canton

28 Sun    JONATHAN RYAN, Organ                         4:00 pm
Stambaugh Organ Series
Stambaugh Auditorium
1000 Fifth Avenue, Youngstown

28 Sun    PHILLIP THOMSON, Piano                       5:00 pm
Five at Five Series
Westminster Presbyterian Church
1250 W. Exchange, Akron

5   Sun    ARSENAL DUO                                                       4:00 pm
Christ Episcopal Church
2627 Atlantic Street NE, Warren

19 Sun    TODD WILSON, Organ                                   4:00 pm
Silent Film “Speedy”
Stambaugh Organ Series
1000 Fifth Avenue, Youngstown

19 Sun    MARILYN KEISER, Organ                            4:00 pm
Prof. of Organ Emeritus, Un. of Indiana
Church of the Savior United Methodist
120 Cleveland Avenue SW, Canton

19 Sun    SINGERS COMPANYE                                    4:00 pm
Fairlawn Lutheran Church
3415 W. Market Street, Akron

26 Sun    YUN KIM, Organist                                          4:00 pm
Stambaugh Auditorium, Youngstown
Co-sponsored by Youngstown Chapter AGO

24 Fri      OHIO STATE WOMEN’S GLEE CLUB  7:30 pm
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
50 N. Prospect Avenue, Akron

26 Sun    CHERRY RHODES, Organist                    4:00 pm
International Concert Organist
East Liberty Presbyterian Church
116 South Highland Avenue, Pittsburgh PA

26 Sun    WEST SHORE CHORALE                         5:00 pm
John Drotleff, Musical Director
St. Mel’s Catholic Church
14436 Triskett Road, Cleveland

31 Fri      VOX LUMINIS (Bamus, Belgium)              7:30 pm
Lionel Meunier, Artistic Director
Cathedral of St. John
1007 Superior- E 9th, Cleveland





Septmeber, 2014

Youngstown Chapter
American Guild of Organists
September 2014 Meeting

St. Paul Cathedral
Shadyside Presbyterian
Calvary Episcopal
and East Liberty Presbyterian
Lunch will be near East Liberty Presbyterian

Saturday, September 13
Departure from
Boardman United Methodist Church
6809 Market Street, Boardman
8:30 am (sharp)

Members who plan to attend the crawl should meet at the church where a carpool is being arranged.

If you plan to go with the group, please email Adam Zagotti at before Wednesday, September 10 so he knows we have enough to make the trip. If you plan to drive on your own, it would be helpful to notify Adam, also.



Day is dying in the west;
Heaven is touching earth with rest;
wait and worship while the night
sets her evening lamps alight through all the sky.

So begins one of my favorite hymns “Day is Dying in the West” (CHAUTAUQUA).  This hymn is sung at the beginning of every Sacred Song Service on Sunday evenings at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY.  I was able to attend two Sacred Song Services this past summer and thoroughly enjoyed listening to the mighty Massey Memorial organ (with Jared Jacobson at the console), members of the Chautauqua Choir (a mostly volunteer week by week ensemble), and a variety of guest performers.  My family and I attempt to travel back every summer and attend at least one of these choral evensong events and being able to attend two this past summer was a treat for us in a number of ways.  We were able to hear wonderful performances of the music of Gerald Near, Charles Wood, Henry Balfour Gardiner and Eric Whitacre.  The last event allowed those in attendance to take part in a community sing of the Faure Requiem.  In addition, my family and I were able to touch base with good friends of ours from Lancaster, PA and spend quality time with them catching up on family events.  Chautauqua’s serene and relaxing atmosphere on the shore of Lake Chautauqua is the perfect setting for the mixing of the arts with public discourse.  It is also a place where my family and I have some wonderful summertime memories that we treasure.  I hope your summers afforded you all an opportunity to have experienced your own happy memories that you will treasure for a lifetime.

It does not seem possible that another program year is upon us.  Our Sub-Dean, Adam Zagotti, has planned a year of wonderful meetings for us.  The first is no exception. On Saturday, September 13,  we will be taking a “field trip” of sorts to a number of Pittsburgh church venues.  We will carpool from Boardman United Methodist (leaving at 8:30 a.m. sharp) to St. Paul Cathedral, Shadyside Presbyterian, Calvary Episcopal and East Liberty Presbyterian to see these amazing spaces and hear these spectacular instruments.  We will have lunch together somewhere in Pittsburgh (at your own expense). Bring along your organ shoes and a piece of your favorite literature.  I’m sure there will be time slated for us to experience the instruments at each locale.

If you are interested in attending this event, please contact Adam at  If you also would be willing to drive to Pittsburgh that day, please let him know that as well.

It has been brought to my attention that we still have members that have not yet renewed their memberships for the 2014-2015 year.  If you have not, please do so ASAP.  If you have questions regarding the ONCARD process, please contact our Treasurer, at  She will be able to assist you in maneuvering through the process.

I leave you with the last few lines of CHAUTAUQUA.  See you at a meeting this year!
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts!
Heav’n and earth are full of thee!
Heav’n and earth are praising thee,
O Lord most high!

Tim L. Elder


Jonathan Ryan performs
on Stambaugh Series

Acclaimed by audiences and critics alike for his strong communicative skills in numerous styles, exceptional use of the organ’s capabilities, and bold programming,  organist Jonathan Ryan has quickly emerged as one of North America’s premier young concert artists. Ryan will appear in recital on Sunday, September 28 at 4:00 pm on the Stambaugh Organ Series, at Stambaugh Auditorium, Youngstown. With a repertoire spanning the 16th to 21st centuries, he has performed at celebrated venues throughout the United States, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. Among the few organists distinguished with six First Prize awards at major international and national competitions, he most notably received First Prize in the 2009 Jordan II International Organ Competition. Additional testaments of his capability include First Prize in the 2006 Arthur Poister National Organ Competition, the 2006 John Rodland Scholarship Competition, the 2004 Albert Schweitzer National Organ Competition (Young Professional Division), and the 2003 Augustana Arts-Reuter National Organ Competition.

As a recitalist, Jonathan’s performances have taken him to numerous prominent venues including the Cathédrale St-André in Bordeaux (France), the Nicolaikirche in Leipzig (Germany), the Marienkirche in Lübeck (Germany), St. Paul’s Cathedral, London (UK), Truro Cathedral (UK), the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, and Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, IL. He has additionally been featured as a solo recitalist in the opening recital of the 2012 Organ Historical Society National Convention in Chicago, IL the 2010 Organ Historical Society National Convention in Pittsburgh, PA., and  a recent solo performance of two identical full-length solo recitals at the 2014 Boston National Convention of the American Guild of Organists.

A native of Charlotte, NC, Jonathan first started playing the organ at age eight. He studied organ primarily with André Lash before entering the studio of Joyce Jones at Baylor University. He then went on to complete a Bachelor of Music degree with academic honors from the Cleveland Institute of Music where he studied organ, improvisation, and church music with Todd Wilson. During Jonathan’s undergraduate studies in Cleveland, he was awarded the Henry Fusner Prize for outstanding achievement in the Cleveland Institute of Music’s organ department, and also served as Wilson’s assistant at Church of the Covenant. As a student of David Higgs, he received a Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music where he studied improvisation with William Porter. Additionally, Jonathan holds the revered Fellow certificate from the American Guild of Organists, the Guild’s highest ranking professional certification, as well as the Choirmaster certificate for which he received the 2006 Choirmaster Prize for the highest national Choirmaster certificate exam score that year.

Also a conductor and dedicated church musician, Jonathan is Assistant Director of Music at Christ Church (Episcopal) in Greenwich, CT. Within Christ Church’s extensive, British-cathedral modeled music program, he directs the semi-professional adult choir, the Christ Church Singers, works with the Choir of Men and Boys and the Girls Choir, and maintains an active role in leading and performing in the church’s concert series. Jonathan also serves as faculty, principal organist, and a conductor of the Church Music Association of America and their annual summer Colloquiums.

Jonathan Ryan, Organist
Stambaugh Auditorium
1000 Fifth Avenue, Youngstown
Sunday, September 28, 2014 – 4:00 pm

Pageant. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Leo Sowerby
Concerto in D Minor  .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .J.S. Bach
        After Vivaldi, BWV 596 / RV 565
Three Preludes on American Hymns
Prelude on Resignation  . . . . . . . . Zachary Wadsworth
Come Away to the Skies  . . . . . . . . . .George Shearing
Berceuse Paraphrase   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . George Baker
Rhapsody in C-sharp Minor . . . . . . . . . .Herbert Howells
Passion Symphony, Op. 23  . . . . . . . .  . . . Marcel Dupré
Tickets through Stambaugh Box Office.

National American Guild of Organists Convention
Boston, 2014

Mary Jane Chesmar and I had the wonderful opportunity of attending the AGO National Convention held in Boston this year.  I will highlight the many worship services, concert venues, workshops and reading sessions that I attended.

One of our favorite services was the Jazz Worship Service held at Old South Church in Boston.  Their choir sang with a jazz combo consisting of piano, flute, alto saxophone, guitar and drums.  A cellist also played some classical musical selections.  The service was entitled “Into the Light, Jesus of Nazareth” and was structured around a series of Scripture, music (classical solos) and anthems. Although much of the music was jazz-influenced, the solos were by Bach and other classical composers.  The congregation joined the choir throughout the service in hymn singing.

Another totally different, yet moving experience was Lutheran Vespers, Organ Vespers for Pentecost by early composer Michael Praetorius.  The music was accompanied by period instruments and sung in German.  This service was followed by a concert, organist Joan Lippincott and the Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble.  It featured three Baroque concertos.

We also enjoyed an evening with Peter Krasinski accompany-ing the silent film Old Ironsides.  This was held at Old South Church and performed on a Skinner organ.  It was great fun and a relaxing way to end a very long, music filled day.

Perhaps one of the most moving concert venues was presented by the Boston City Singers – “training and inspiring the musician, student, and ambassador in each child-develops progressive mastery of skills for five hundred children from many back-grounds, engaging hearts and minds during the critical after-school hours.”  These kids sang multi-cultural songs from Africa, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Jamaica.  They also sang a beautiful anthem by Rheinberger and “Laudate pueri” by Mendelssohn.  Their enthusiasm and musicianship was inspiring to observe.

The breadth of the churches and the organs that they housed in the Boston area, Harvard University and Wellesley College were truly awesome in their beauty and scope.  Most notable was the final concert venue held at The Mother Church, First Church of Christ Scientist.  This building looked like a state capital and had two or three mezzanines, seating approximately 3,000 people.  This houses Aeolian-Skinner’s Opus 1203, the largest single organ the firm ever built.


I attended all the choral reading sessions, a session on jazz-influenced organ music, patriotic music for use in worship, how to successfully hold a community-wide hymn/choral festival and Adam’s enthusiastic presentation about the Youngstown Regional AGO convention.

It was an exhausting week, but an exciting one filled with many wonderful musical experiences.  Mary Jane and I barely had time to relax and enjoy a meal.  We had so many thirty minute (just soup or a sandwich) at the hotel’s Sport’s Bar, I think they began to recognize us on sight.  The hotel was lovely and I am very appreciative to my church, Westminster Presbyterian, for allowing me the opportunity to attend this convention.  I had the best traveling companion in Mary Jane and she even had a little time to shop for her grandson’s birthday.  I highly encourage each of you to attend a national and, of course, our own regional convention

Submitted by Mary Jane Chesmar and Kathy Miller


Auditions for Salem Youth Chorus!

The Salem Youth Chorus is accepting new singers for the 2014-15 season. The Salem Youth Chorus was founded by Jon Simsic in 2007 in order to provide teens and collegiate young adults (and even a little older!) in the greater Youngstown, OH area with the opportunity to sing great sacred choral music as crafted by the compositional masters. Our music program proudly attracts singers from communities throughout the area. Membership in the Salem Youth Chorus is open to all interested and qualified singers, regardless of race, creed, color, gender or sexual orientation. Please call 330.607.6320to schedule an audition or for further information. Visit The Salem Youth Chorus on Facebook for more pictures and news of upcoming concerts and events!


2014-2015 Programs

Sun., Oct. 26   Yun Kim, Organist                       4:00 pm
Stambaugh Auditorium
1000 Fifth Avenue, Youngstown

Mon., Nov. 3   Al Fedak Workshop                       7:00 pm
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Youngstown

December             No Meeting


Happy 455th Birthday, Henry Purcell!

Like too many other composers, Henry Purcell did not live to see his fortieth birthday. Yet, he was prolific, influential, and his music continues to be played and enjoyed more than four centuries after his death.

Purcell was born circa September 10, 1659, a year before King Charles II returned from his long exile in France after the Puritan hegemony collapsed in England. Instrumental music would return to British churches, and music would again be celebrated. Lucky Henry! Lucky, also that he was born into a musical family, though the details of his birth are a bit sketchy. His father, also Henry, was a gentleman of the Chapel Royal who sang at the coronation of Charles II. When his father died, young Henry became the ward of his uncle Thomas Purcell; through Thomas’s efforts the boy became a chorister at His Majesty’s Chapel. Henry studied music under CaptainHenry Cooke and Pelham Humfrey, sang at the Chapel Royal, and when in 1673 he was no longer able to function as a boy soprano, he began building organs with John Hingston. Meanwhile, our composer had begun composing music from the age of nine, but the earliest identifiable Purcell work is a 1670 ode written for the king’s birthday.
When his teacher Pelham Humfrey died, Purcell began studying with John Blow, attended Westminster School, and was given the position of copyist at Westminster Abbey. He composed “Lord, Who Can Tell,” a choir anthem, in 1678. In 1679 he contributed songs to John Playford’s Choice Ayres, Songs and Dialogues.

Purcell’s teacher John Blow vacated his position as Westminster Abbey organist in 1679 in order to make way for his student. Now Henry Purcell began to spend more time writing sacred music, though his output of music for the theater remained much larger.

Purcell married his wife Frances probably in 1681 or 1682. They had six children, though four did not survive infancy. His appointment as organist for the Chapel Royal in 1682, a position he held simultaneously with his Abbey position, no doubt helped him to support his growing family. His activities in the last years of his life remain largely unknown. He did write more music for the theater and provided music for the Duke of Gloucester’s birthday in July 1695; this was his last royal performance. On November 21, 1695 Henry Purcell wrote his will; he died the same day. His funeral five days later was a major event and a stirring tribute to a great composer: the combined choirs of Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal sang for the service. He was buried in the north aisle of Westminster Abbey, near the organ.

Many of today’s organists have played a piece attributed to Henry Purcell titled “Trumpet Voluntary.” That work was actually written by Jeremiah Clarke and is now known as “The Prince of Denmark’s March.” Many of us continue to play Purcell’s “Trumpet Tune” for weddings. His most famous vocal work is probably “When I Am Laid in Earth” (aka “Dido’s Lament”) from the opera Dido and Aeneas. This writer’s favorite work by Henry Purcell is Come, Ye Sons of Art, written for the birthday of Queen Mary in 1694 and recorded by counter tenor Alfred Deller and the Deller Consort in 1953. Other recordings may surpass it, but for me it meant an introduction to something new, different, exciting, and beautiful—like nothing I had ever heard before.

Jack Westrup in The New Grove North European Baroque Masters (1985) writes that Purcell ”clearly learnt much from Locke, Humfrey and Blow and quickly became familiar with the Italian music of his time. But whatever he absorbed from others became transformed in his hands into something that was peculiarly his own. Of all the English composers of his time he was the most individual.”

Many of Henry Purcell’s compositions, both sacred and secular, are available at the Petrucci Music Library ( Thank you, Henry Purcell!   (AG)






















2012-2013 Membership Fees

$97.00 Regular Member
$72.00 Special (Senior/Disabled,over 65)
$37.00 Student
$72.00 Partner/ Second Member
$38.00 Dual (indicate primary chapter)
$15.00 Student dual member
$15.00 Chapter Friend

A special feature that our chapter offers for first year members is a discounted membership fee of $57.

Contact Nancy Brescia at for a membership form.



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



The Youngstown Chapter AGO has a strong performance record when it comes to the guild exams: over one-third of the current membership holds at least one guild certificate. The requirements for professional certification appear in the July issue of “The American Organist.” The Service Playing exam can be taken in the Youngstown Chapter anytime before April 30, 2007; the Colleague exam can also be taken locally, on either May 11 or November 16, 2007. The Choir Master, Associate, and Fellowship exams are administered at nearby examination centers in Cleveland or Pittsburgh. Examination materials and repertoire are kept in the Cathedral Music Library and are available to chapter members. For further information, please contact Daniel Laginya, examination coordinator, at


Contact Us

Dean: Tim Elder
Sub-Dean: Adam Zagotti
Secretary: Gary P. Richards
Treasurer: Nancy Brescia

Newsletter editor: Gary Richards

Executive Board Members 
Bradley A. Bonam. .
Jeannine Morris. .
Mary Ann Bilas Bush. .
Susanne Mayerchak. .
Sean Baran. . .
Nancy McNeal



Hemry Pipe Organ Company
Kegg Organ Company
Schantz Organ Company
Youngstown State University Concert Series

AGO National website