Youngstown Chapter

Last updated: March 2, 2015 at 17:24 pm

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


6  Fri       JAMES O’DONNELL, Organ . . . 7:30 pm
Organist/Master of Choristers – Westminster Abbey, London
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
3747 Fairmount, Cl. Heights
Akron Chapter AGO – Co-sponsor

7  Sat      JAMES O’DONNELL, Clinician . . . 9:00 am
Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
2230 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland

13 Fri      CONTRAPUNCTUS (Cleveland, OH) . . . 7:30 pm
Angel Voices ever Singing
David Acres, Director
Cathedral of St. John
1007-E 9th, Cleveland

15 Sun    WEST SHORE CHORALE  . . . 7:30 pm
John Drotleff, Musical Director
Haydn: Mass #13 (Creation Mass) & Choral Favorites
Memorial Hall, Rocky River City Hall Complex
Wagar and Hilliard, Rocky River

22 Sun    BALDWIN-WALLACE MEN’S CHORUS . . . 4:00 pm
Fairlawn Lutheran Church
3415 W. Market Street, Akron

22 Sun    BARBARA BRUNS, Organist  . . . 4:00 pm
From the Parish of Christ Church, Andover MA
St. Paul Cathedral
108 North Dithridge, Pittsburgh PA

23 Mon   THE PRIESTS  . . . 7:00 pm
Canton Public Theater
605 Market Street, Canton   $

27 Fri   THIEL COLLEGE CHOIR . . . 7:00 pm
Dr. Michael Bray, Director — Kay Gray, Accompanist
St. Columba Cathedral
159 W. Rayen, Youngstown

27 Fri      BURNING RIVER BAROQUE . . . 8:00 pm
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
50 N. Prospect, Akron

30 Mon  DANA CHORALE . . . 7:30 pm
University Chorus, Women’s Chorus
Dr. Hae-Jong Lee, Director
Christ Episcopal Church
2627 Atlantic Street NE, Warren

10 Fri      RICHARD KONZEN, Organist . . .  7:30 pm
Faculty Recital
Pew Fine Arts Center, Grove City College
Works of Hindemith, Bach, Rossi, Persichetti and others.

10 Fri      COLLABORATION CONCERT. . .  7:30 pm
Freude! Case Concert Choir, Cleveland State Un. Chorale, University Circle Festival Choir
and Case/University Circle Orchestra present
Haydn’s Te Deum, Beethoven’s Calm and Prosperous Voyage and Mendelssohn’s Magnificat.
Church of the Covenant
11205 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland

12 Sun    WARREN PHILHARMONIC . . . . 3:00 pm
The Power of Fate
Susan Davenny Wyner, Conductor
Christ Episcopal Church
2627 Atlantic Street NE, Warren

12 Sun    DAVID HIGGS, Organ . . . . 4:00 pm
Chairman Organ Dept., Eastman School
Stambaugh Organ Series
Stambaugh Auditorium  $
1000 Fifth Avenue, Youngstown

17 Fri      TOM TRENNEY, Organ . .  . 8:00 pm
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
50 N. Prospect, Akron

19 Sun    ROBERT MONCRIEF, Organ . . . 4:00 pm
Fairlawn Lutheran Church
3415 W. Market, Akron

24 Fri      OLIVIER LATRY, Organ  . . . 7:00 pm
Titular Organist, Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
Basilica of St. John the Baptist
627 McKinley Avenue, Canton

26 Sun    MARILYN KAISER, Organ . . .4:00 pm
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
1361 W. Market Street, Akron

26 Sun    ERIC PLUTZ, Organist  . . . 4:00 pm
University Organist, Princeton University
Calvary Episcopal Church
315 Shady Avenue, Pittsburgh PA



March 2015


Dr. Michael Bray, Director
Kay Gray, Accompanist

Friday, March 27, 2015
7:00 pm

St. Columba Cathedral
159 W. Rayen Avenue, Youngstown

See article below.


“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Many of us heard these very words on Ash Wednesday as we began our Lenten journeys.   This phrase takes on a more special significance for my family and me this year as we continue to mourn the loss of my mother-in-law, Mary Ellen Leshinsky.  “Mary Mom”, as I affectionately called her, fought a brave and courageous six month battle against pancreatic cancer.  Throughout her illness she never gave up, remained strong in her faith, and never once questioned “why”.  She taught us all to be brave, be strong and to never give up on the plans God has for each and every one of us.   I had the great honor of being one of her caretakers through the week days so that my wife and family did not need to miss a great deal of work.  It is a gift I will cherish for the rest of my life.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have sent words of comfort and encouragement, offered prayers for both “Mary Mom” and the family, for flowers and phone calls, and even those of you who braved the elements and attended calling hours and funeral.  All of these kind gestures have been greatly appreciated by all of us.  We cannot begin to thank you all for your kindness.

I want to also take this month’s letter to thank a number of individuals for the programming that has occurred the past couple of months.  Thank you to all who participated in the “Pedals, Pipes, and Pinot” program:  Gary Richards our host and the good people of Christ Episcopal, Adam Zagotti for pinch hitting at the last minute when Dr. Ed Moore was unable to join us, and to all those who participated in playing.

Another round of thanks to all who participated in our February Student Member Recital program: to Larry Harris our host and the good people of First Presbyterian in Youngstown, to Gary Richards who acted as our host and to those who prepared these students for their performances.

Mark your calendars now and plan on attending our Friday, March 27th program at St. Columba Cathedral.  That evening will showcase the talents of the choir from Thiel College, Greenville, PA. Our very own Guild member Kay Gray is the ensemble’s accompanist as well as college organist and faculty member at Thiel.  The group is under the direction of Dr. Michael Bray.  Please plan on attending and supporting one of our own Guild members!

As you are marking your calendars, please consider attending the AGO’s Great Lakes Regional Convention this summer in Indianapolis.  The “Race to Indy” runs from July 12 – 15 and will include workshops, masterclasses and recitals by such noted clinicians and artists as Ken Cowan, Marilyn Keiser, Christopher Young, Lorraine Brugh, and Bruce Neswick. For more information, check your TAO magazine, the AGO website or the conference website at  Remember, it will only be two short years from now when we will be putting the finishing touches on our own Great Lakes Regional Convention!

In closing, I leave you with the words of the refrain from the hymn Neither Death Nor Life (NEITHER DEATH NOR LIFE). The hymn was written for a gathering of ELCA bishops’ assistants in San Antonio, Texas in 2000.  It is based on the text from Romans 8 which happened to be one of the worship texts for the conference’s closing worship.

Neither death, nor life nor angels, nor rulers,
nor trials in the present, nor any trial to come,
neither height, nor depth, nor all of creation
can ever separate us from the love of God
poured out in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

See you at a meeting!
Tim L. Elder, Dean

February Student Recital Program

The February Youngstown Chapter meeting featured several fine performances by organ and piano students from the piano studio of Sean Baran and organ studio of Dr. Daniel Laginya at YSU.  Those performing on the program included organists: Maria Koch, Therese Rose and Frank Behne III. Piano students included: Nina Gordan, Elliott Kim, Madison Carl, Joel Kreuzwieser, Christina Kim and Brandon Sharp.  A special Thank You to Larry Harris and the people of First Presbyterian Church, Youngstown for hosting the event.


Thiel Choir to Perform at St. Columba

The fifty-voice Thiel Choir of Thiel College from Greenville, Pennsylvania, a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, will perform a concert at 7:00 p.m. Friday evening, March 27, 2015 at St. Columba Cathedral, 159 W. Rayen Avenue, Youngstown, hosted by the Youngstown Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.  The performance is the first concert of Thiel Choir’s three 2015 Palm Sunday weekend concerts.

The choir, under the direction of Dr. Michael Bray, will perform a variety of sacred a cappella works by Palestrina, Johann Pachelbel, Felix Mendelssohn, Lloyd Pfautsch, Javier Busto, Craig Hella Johnson and Robert Wetzler as well as spirituals by Boniface Mganga and Moses Hogan.  Organ accompanied works include Jubilate Deo, by Benjamin Britten and Like As the Hart Desireth the Waterbrooks, by Herbert Howells. Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata #4 Christ Lag in Todesbanden and Break Forth Into Singing, by Daniel Gawthrop are featured works on the program accompanied by string quartet, continuo and oboe.



This month I want to update our membership on a few issues regarding the convention planning. First, the program committee is off and running working out a top-notch slate of programs for our convention.  Many thanks again to the hard working volunteers of this and all of our committees.

Secondly, I would like to thank Karl and Jeannine Morris for taking over the duties of Convention Treasurer. After the untimely death of Richard Stevenson we were left without a treasurer. This convention was something that Dick Stevenson strongly supported, he was an avid enthusiast of all things organ related in our area. Please consider making a memorial contribution to the convention in memory of Richard Stevenson.

All contributions should now be made payable to Youngstown 2017 AGO Convention and mailed to Karl Morris, 200 Country Club SE, Warren OH 44484.   Adam Zagotti, Chair


The AGO National Council has established new dues rates for all dues categories. The new rates will appear on the April 1 renewal notices that AGO Headquarters will send to current chapter members renewing for the 2015-2016 membership year. These rates are $100 for Regular members; $75 for Special members; $40 for Student members; and $75 for Partners. The new rates reflect a $3 increase in each membership category, with $2 being retained by each chapter and $1 allocated to National Headquarters.

The new dues 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 lapsed.  Please note that new members and those who wish to reinstate their lapsed memberships can join now through March 30 at the current dues rates before they increase on April 1.

Separately, the National Council has authorized the National Headquarters to initiate a “rolling membership year” for those who are joining a chapter for the first time or reinstating after their membership has lapsed. This means that a member’s expiration date will be one year from the date on which the member joined; i.e., on the anniversary of the join date. Under this plan, all current chapter members will retain their July 1-June 30 membership year as long as they renew by September 1.  For new and reinstating members, however, the membership year will commence on the first of the month in which the member joins the Guild. Independent members, like TAO subscribers, have always followed a rolling membership year and will continue to do so.

Effective retroactively to November 1, 2014, AGO National Headquarters implemented the anniversary date membership for all new members and those who reinstated their memberships since that date. These individuals will not have to wait until July 1, 2015 to begin to receive a full year of membership benefits. Instead, since November 1, their membership year began in the month in which they joined or reinstated.

Analyzing the responses to the recent membership survey, the AGO’s Marketing Committee has noted that, “Across all age groups, the most valuable aspect of AGO membership was to meet and network with professional colleagues.”  Other key benefits include “staying informed about news in the organ world,” which is readily available through national and chapter publications including TAO, newsletters, websites, chapter meetings, plus regional as well as national conferences.

Our newest membership benefits include full online access to each issue of TAO, the ability to join online throughout the year and update one’s membership profile at any time, and, exclusively for first-time members, access to a no-cost life insurance policy for two years with a $40,000 benefit. All Guild members have the ability to review job listings on the AGO’s job board, the world’s most complete listing of positions available; eligibility for high-quality insurance plans for health, car, home, and professional liability at competitive rates; discounts on AGO convention fees and educational resources; discounts on certification examination fees; access to Chapter events such as recitals, workshops, meetings, and seminars (in some cases for chapter members only); and voting privileges in officer elections.  One important benefit cannot be overstated, and a prominent, long-time Guild member said it well: “I am an organist; the AGO is my professional organization.”


Simsic music published by Paraclete

Congratulations to Jon Simsic on the publication of his setting of the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis, Evening Service in B-flat. The setting is scored for 3 part treble voices and organ and will issued by Paraclete Press. The thematic content of the Magnificat is based on the incipit of the tone 7 plainsong. It is a tripartite, affecting presentation of Mary’s response to the Angel Gabriel. The Nunc Dimittis opens with a quiet introduction and continues with a lyrical Passacaglia, indicative of Simeon’s unwavering faith.

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral
2230 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland
Wednesdays at 12:10 pm

Liz and Todd play Bartok’s magnificent Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion.

Colorful singing by the talented students of HBS.

330th Birthday celebration with a festive concert by the Burning River Baroque.



Dr. Richard Konzen will perform his organ Faculty Recital on Friday, April 10 at 7:30 in the Parker Organ Studio, Pew Fine Arts Center, Grove City College. Works by Hindemith, Bach, Rossi Persichetti and a couple of fun surprises will be on the program.

Sony Recording Artists from Northern Ireland
The Priests
Canton Public Theater
605 Market Ave., Canton
Monday, March 23 at 7:00pm

Preconcert performance on the historic organ at 6:45 by Mark Pacoe.  To purchase tickets: or call 330.454.8172


The Baldwin Wallace University Men’s Chorus under the direction of Frank Bianchi, will perform at Fairlawn Lutheran Church, 3415 W. Market Street, Akron on Sunday, March 22 at 4:00 pm.  This group has performed for “standing room only” audiences and has collaborated in concert with several outstanding music organizations and has received rave reviews. Their programs include classical literature, as well as some pop and Broadway. A free-will offering will be received.  Parking at the church and Summit Mall.


Happy 330th Birthday,
Famous Mystery Composer!

The first part of this essay will be a quiz. Is everybody ready?

He was born on March 21, 1685 in Eisenach, Thuringia (Germany). His father was a musician who gave our composer his first music lessons. After his parents died, the ten-year-old musician moved in with an older brother who served as an organist at Saint Michael’s Church in Ohrdruf and who probably taught his younger brother about the king of instruments. By 1703 the young musician was playing violin and organ at the court in Weimar and in the Neukirche in Armstadt.

He married his cousin Maria Barbara in 1707, and the next year our composer was appointed chamber musician to the Duke of Saxe-Weimar. He composed many works for organ during this period, including The Little Organ Book in 1714. Well, you have all guessed by now that we are talking about Johann Sebastian Bach. In fact, we suspect that many of you knew our subject’s identity as soon as you read the date of his birth.

Bach became Kapellmeister in the court of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cothen in 1717. More great works emerged, including the Brandenburg Concertos and The Well-Tempered Clavier. Maria Barbara Bach, who had given birth to seven children, died unexpectedly in 1720; the next year Bach married Anna Magdalena Wilcke, with whom he would have thirteen children. In 1723, Johann Sebastian Bach became Kantor of St. Thomas Church in Leipzig.

He was a prolific composer who wrote every type of music but opera: oratorios, concertos, suites, keyboard music, and enough music for organ to keep us organists busy for more than a lifetime. His own lifetime was no doubt cut short by eye surgery performed by the Englishman John Taylor, who also operated unsuccessfully on George Frideric Handel. Daniel Albert, M.D. in Men of Vision called Mr. Taylor “the most infamous of all ophthalmic quacks.” Johann Sebastian Bach died on July 28, 1750. He was sixty-five.

In spite of Bach’s genius and the plethora of his works that we now cherish, he was known more for his skills as an organist in his lifetime. It was Felix Mendelssohn who began the revival of interest in Bach’s music with a production in 1829 of the Saint Matthew Passion. We trust that Johann Sebastian Bach’s music will continue to be played and listened to and appreciated for centuries to come. Pablo Casals eloquently praised this greatest of composers: “To strip human nature until its divine attributes are made clear, to inform ordinary activities with spiritual fervor, to give wings of eternity to that which is most ephemeral; to make divine things human and human things divine; such is Bach, the greatest and purest moment in music of all time.”  (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