Cherry Rhodes and Ladd Thomas to be Honored at AGO Recital and Gala Benefit Reception

The American Guild of Organists will sponsor a Recital and Gala Benefit Reception honoring internationally acclaimed organists and university professors Cherry Rhodes and Ladd Thomas. The dynamic couple has been selected by the AGO National Council to receive the 2015 AGO Endowment Fund Distinguished Artist Award. The biographies of the honorees can be found here. The celebration will begin on Friday, April 17, 2015, at 7:30 p.m., at the First United Methodist Church of Glendale, Calif., where Ladd Thomas has served as organist for 55 years. The honorees will perform as organ soloists in Mendelssohn’s Sonata No. 1 in F Minor (Thomas) and Moussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, transcribed by Jean Guillou (Rhodes). They will combine … [Read more...]

Wilbur Held Dead at Age 100

Wilbur Held, a resident of Claremont, California, passed into life everlasting on March 24, 2015, at age 100. The AGO remembers with gratitude his service as a National Councillor (1968–1971) and dean of the Columbus (Ohio) Chapter. A celebration of his lifetime of music composition resulted in a Centenary Edition of his organ works, published by MorningStar Music in 2014. Wilbur Held was born on August 20, 1914, in Des Plaines, Illinois. He enrolled at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, studying organ with Frank van Dusen and theory/composition with John Palmer, and earned undergraduate and graduate degrees there. Midway through his studies, he became Leo Sowerby’s assistant at St. James Church—an association that lasted … [Read more...]

AGO Welcomes a new Chapter

AGO President John Walker welcomed the Indiana, Pennsylvania Chapter to the Guild during the intermission of his recital on the Pogorzelski-Yankee Organ on Sunday, March 16, 2015, at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Christine Clewell, Professor of Music and chapter Dean, and Jonathan Petty, chapter Secretary, joined him on stage to receive the chapter’s charter. The recital included “Voluntary on the Old 100th” by Henry Purcell; “Toccata und Fugue in E-Dur” by Johann Krebs; “Concerto del Sigr. Meck” by Johann Walther; “Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam, BWV 684” and “Prelude and Fugue in G Major, BWV 541” by J.S. Bach; “Sonata VI in D Minor” by Felix Mendelssohn; “Canon in B Minor” by Robert Schumann; and “Voluntary for Trumpet … [Read more...]

March 2015 TAO Feature Article

St. Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe, PA Buzard Pipe Organ Builders, Champaign, IL by John-Paul Buzard It has been a high honor to design and build this organ for the Basilica Church of St. Vincent Archabbey. The new gallery organ of 51 stops and 72 ranks of pipes was installed beginning in July 2014 and completed in October. St. Vincent is home to the oldest American Benedictine abbey, a parish, seminary, and St. Vincent College, a coeducational four-year institution. In 1998, I recommended replacement of the organ previously installed in the basilica. Mechanical failure spelled its demise; but it was only 30% as large as necessary to fill the building with sound and provide a generous variety of tone colors and volume levels to meet the … [Read more...]

February 2015 TAO Feature Article

Two-Manual Organs in Liturgical Settings By David C. Pike Note: This article originally appeared in the February 2015 issue of The American Organist As 21st-century organbuilders we face the question of how to maintain our work as desirable, central, and perhaps imperative to our greatest patron—the Church. At the Fisk workshop, organbuilding is firmly rooted in proven building practices of the past, even as we strive to create instruments that will ensure the pipe organ’s continued role as a vital and relevant part of modern-day Christian worship. Our belief is that sensitive contextual visual design, deftly conceived mechanical key action, and attentive, historically informed voicing will best serve the requirements of sacred … [Read more...]

January 2105 TAO Chapter News North Central Region

Central Iowa  September 29, chapter members gathered at St. John’s Lutheran Church for the year’s kickoff event. Members of the church provided a delicious homemade dinner, which was followed by the AGO Commissioning Service of Church Musicians. The chapter’s new dean, Michael Stefanek, and the Rev. Dr. Jackie Thompson presided over the service. The St. John’s Adult Handbell Choir provided the prelude and service music. Newly installed Sub-dean Mark Shultz played the hymns, while outgoing dean Ann Gerdom played the postlude. —David Raymond Twin Cities, MN  October 18, several chapter members and friends enjoyed a West Metro Organ Crawl/Exploration Day. The daylong event took place in beautiful weather with exquisite fall … [Read more...]

Pipe Organ Encounter Summer 2015

The Pipe Organ Encounter (POE), an educational program of the American Guild of Organists, is an introduction to the pipe organ through instruction in organ playing, repertoire, history, design, and construction. These regional summer organ music institutes for teenage students (aged 13-18) provide private and group instruction in service playing and solo repertoire, opportunities to learn about the musical heritage of various religious denominations, and a chance for young musicians to meet others with similar interests. This summer three types of Pipe Organ Encounter events are offered: the traditional Pipe Organ Encounter, for the keyboard student who is relatively new to the organ the Pipe Organ Encounter Advanced, for organ … [Read more...]

January 2015 TAO Chapter News Southwest Region

Tulsa, OK October 18, the chapter presented the Broken Consort from Boston, MA in a workshop at Christ the King Catholic Church. The leader of the six singers demonstrated and led chapter members in singing chant and choral music leading up to the early Baroque era. The Consort singers encouraged the teaching and singing of chant, showing easy ways to introduce it to church choirs; they also demonstrated vocal techniques and tuning. Following the workshop, members had lunch and a meeting at a nearby restaurant. —Fred Elder Tulsa Chapter website Alamo, TX September 26, the chapter opened its 2014–15 season with a potluck social at the residence of John and Elaine Ehlers. Despite the heavy drizzle, the turnout was … [Read more...]

January 2015 TAO Chapter News West Region

Long Beach, CA   October 7,, Jason McNally (host organist) was joined by Dolly Ickler (chapter registrar and treasurer) in providing an early Halloween party. Members sang pumpkin carols and were treated to music by chapter members. —David Feit-Pretzer Long Beach Chapter website   Orange County, CA May 18, the chapter held a members’ recital at Tustin Presbyterian Church (host Dennis Siebelnaler, organist). Performing on the 53-rank Wicks pipe organ were Lois Hol dridge, David M. Lines, Norberto Guinaldo, Christine Azzoni Dow, and Sie belnaler. They played, among others: Simon Preston’s Alleluyas, Joseph Jongen’s Chant de Mai, and two of Norberto Guinaldo’s own compositions from his Six Contemplations for … [Read more...]

The AGO Mourns the Death of John Obetz

JOHN OBETZ, a resident of Leawood, Kans., passed into life everlasting on February 12, 2015. We remember fondly his dedicated service to the AGO as a chapter dean, regional chairman, and his membership on AGO National Council that spanned two decades. His inspired leadership, profound wisdom, sage advice, charismatic charm, and keen sense of humor will long be remembered by the Guild. Our hearts are filled with love for John, his devoted wife Grace, son Peter, daughter-in-law Christy, and granddaughters Riley and Taylor. John was one of America’s most widely heard organists. For nearly three decades, his radio program, The Auditorium Organ, reached thousands of listeners each week via satellite broadcast from the headquarters of the … [Read more...]

AGO National Council Sets New Dues Rates

The AGO National Council has established new dues rates for all dues categories. The new rates will be reflected on the April 1 renewal notices that AGO Headquarters will send to current chapter members renewing for the 2015-2016 membership year. The new rates are $100 for Regular members; $75 for Special members; $40 for Student members; and $75 for Partners. These rates reflect a $3 increase in each membership category, with $2 being retained by each chapter and $1 allocated to National Headquarters. The new rates will take effect on April 1 for those who join the Guild for the first time either as Chapter members or as Independent members, or who reinstate as either Chapter members or Independent members after their memberships have … [Read more...]