February 2016 AGO Chapter News

Northeast Region

New Haven gathering

New Haven gathering

New Haven, CT

November 21, the chapter presented two workshops at Bethesda Lutheran Church (host Lars Gjerde, dean). Markus Rathey from Yale spoke on the influence of 18th-century Lutheranism on Bach’s organ and choral music. Voice teacher Valerie Sorel gave insights into the fitness and physiological aspects of singing. The chapter is grateful to Lynda Pedersen for help with hospitality—and to all members, local and from afar, who made the interactive workshops exciting.

—Lars Gjerde

Maryaan McCary, Elizabeth Limkemann (sub-dean), Stephen Hamilton (recitalist), Cheryl Baker (dean), and Phred Mileski at New London event

Maryann McCary, Elizabeth Limkemann (sub-dean), Stephen Hamilton (recitalist), Cheryl Baker (dean), and Phred Mileski at New London event

New London, CT

September 27, members attended a presentation on “Making Your Own Music” at Christ Church, Norwich. Jesse Glaude, Tom Gouin, Glenn Hardy, and Phred Mileski presented and demonstrated some of their inspiring ideas for improvising and composing their own music. A potluck dinner followed.

November 8, the chapter and St. James Church cosponsored a recital by Stephen Hamilton at St. James Episcopal Church, New London. The program, played on the four-manual E.M. Skinner organ, included works by Dupré, Franck, Duruflé, Messiaen, Ginastera, Alain, and Bach. After dinner at Tony D’s Italian Restaurant, Hamilton presented a workshop on new music for church organists. Organ music provided by Lois Fyfe Music Store in Nashville, Tenn., was offered to members for purchase.

—Elizabeth Limkemann

Phillip Stimmel, Robert Hall, Michael Petruzzi, and Diane Peterson with a 1920 instrument at the Etsey Organ Museum in Brattleboro, VT

Phillip Stimmel, Robert Hall, Michael Petruzzi, and Diane Peterson with a 1920 instrument at the Etsey Organ Museum in Brattleboro, VT

Waterbury, CT

November 11, chapter members made a field trip to Brattleboro, Vt. Philip Stimmel took the group to see and play the II/7 Estey Opus 1 at the United Methodist Church, a large three-manual Estey (1906) at First Baptist Church, and a two-manual Estey (1948) at the Christian Science Church. After lunch at Amy’s Bakery Arts Cafe, the group toured the Estey Organ Museum. It features many Estey reed organs, a couple of small pipe organs, and several curious small musical instruments.

—William Degan


Presenters, hymn leaders, and accompanists at Boston’s “Mayflower to Marathon” hymn festival (photo courtesy of the Hymn Society)

Boston, MA

November 7–8, the chapter—in collaboration with the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada—presented the hymn festival “Mayflower 
to Marathon: 400 Years of Congregational Song.” To increase mem­ber attendance, the pre­sentation was presented at two historic churches: Old West Church in Boston and Christ Church in Andover. This event celebrated Boston’s heritage of hymns, psalms, and patriotic songs. Festival participants sang hymns from the psalms of the Ains­worth Psalter carried by the Pilgrims, continued through “Home Grown” hymnody and songs for country; explored music for freedom and gospel hymnody; and sang the “subversive” hymns written by women. The festival concluded “Still Singing,” including the premiere of the new hymn tune Timeless Kyrie by Carol Doran for the words of “When Sudden Terror Tears Apart” written by Carl Daw, chaplain of the Boston chapter. The history of each hymn was presented, and the congregation was then invited to sing stanzas, sometimes in unison, harmony, or in canon.

—Claire DeCusati

Merrimack Valley workshop participants (photo: Alain Bojarski)

Merrimack Valley workshop participants (photo: Alain Bojarski)

Merrimack Valley, MA

November 15, chapter members joined Colin Lynch, associate director of music and organist at Trinity Church (Boston), for an interactive workshop on the best practices of service playing. The workshop was held at the First Religious Society in Newburyport (host Jay Lane, music director). The workshop concluded with an open console and refreshments.

—Jodi Templer

Southeastern Massachusetts members recital participants

Southeastern Massachusetts members recital participants

Southeastern Massachusetts

November 15, members Merry Foxworth, Donna Costa, Dick Hill, Philip Jones, and Bernadette Na­deau gave a recital on the 1895 Hook & Hastings organ in the First Universalist Church of Assinippi, Norwell. The seven-rank instrument proved its versatility in the wide range of repertoire presented.

—Merry Foxworth

New Hampshire

March 15, chapter members traveled to the home of Randall Mullin in Old Orchard, Maine, for a demonstration of his four-manual Hauptwerk organ. Through the magic of “sampled wave” technology, participants were able to hear and “play” many of the finest existing pipe organs from around the globe!

• June 7, the chapter held its annual meeting and dinner at the Bedford home of Philip and Lois Becker. Officers for the 2015–16 season include Kevin Lindsay (dean), the Rev. Michael Bradley (sub-dean), Philip Becker (secretary and auditor), Shirley Boucher (treasurer and registrar), and Eric Bermani (scholarship committee chair). Also, Patricia Couchon will join the executive committee for the three-year term.

—Nicholas Girgus

Binghamton, NY 

November 5, De­nise Bassen played Bach’s Passa­caglia in C Minor on the two-manual Hellmuth Wolff tracker organ in Binghamton University’s Fine Arts Building. She is a master’s degree candidate in organ at BU, and a student of Jon­a­than Biggers.

• November 8, eleven chapter members traveled to El­mira to hear a recital by 
Peter Sykes at Grace Episcopal Church. Sykes played music of Buxtehude, James Woodman, Vierne, Mendelssohn, and Bach on the five-division, 54-stop, 73-rank organ rebuilt by A. Richard Strauss of Ithaca in 1991. The recital was part of the Music at Grace Series, and was cosponsored by the Chemung Valley AGO Chapter.

Binghamton members with Peter Sykes (back,center) and builder Richard Strauss (far right)

Binghamton members with Peter Sykes (back,center) and builder Richard Strauss (far right)

• November 15, several members attended a benefit recital by organist-choirmaster Mark Laubach at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Pro-Cathedral in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. The benefit was held to support maintenance and tuning of the rebuilt (2002/2008, solo division) IV/87 Berg­haus organ at St. Stephen’s. Laubach played music of Dirksen, Mendelssohn, Handel/Mc­Kin­ley, Bach, Strauss/Reger, Dupré, Gigout, Paulus, and Elgar.

• November 22, Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church welcomed its new music director-organist, Timothy E. Smith, who led an Evensong service featuring choral music of Richard Ayleward, Charles Stanford, and Balfour Gardiner, and organ music of Joseph Bonnet and Noel Rawsthorne. Smith is a dual member of the Binghamton and Buffalo chapters. He is owner and manager of the Portageville Chapel, next to Letchworth State Park in western New York, used by many groups as a retreat. He also owns Chesapeake Organ Company.

—John Holt

Fr. Columba Kelly with a Suffolk AGO/NPM workshop participant

Fr. Columba Kelly with a Suffolk AGO/NPM workshop participant

Suffolk, NY

October 23 & 24, Fr. Columba Kelly, OSB, of St. Meinrad’s Archabbey, Indiana, conducted a workshop on Gregorian chant that focused on the great advances in chant research and interpretation achieved over the last 50 years. The workshop, sponsored jointly by the chapter and the Rockville Centre Diocesan chapter of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, was held at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception, Huntington. Fifty-three participants heard Fr. Columba explain and demonstrate just how the spoken text influences the rhythm of chant. Other topics addressed were the nature of the Modes as “mood-setters,” the use of psalm-tones and their influence on the construction of antiphons, and some simple techniques for conducting chant. The event closed with a sung Vespers in the seminary chapel using all aspects of chant interpretation addressed in the presentation.

—Raymond Henderson

Westchester County Dean John King and recitalist Nathan Laube

Dean John King and recitalist Nathan Laube

Westchester County, NY

November 15, the chapter presented a reci­tal by Nathan Laube playing the church’s J.W. Walker & Sons organ at Hitchcock Presbyterian Church, Scarsdale. The program included works by Bach, Cabanilles, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Buxtehude, Rameau, de Bergamo, and Widor. A reception followed.

—Virginia Bende

Mid-Atlantic Region

Central Maryland recitalists Charlotte Young, Miriam Meglan, Peggy Brengle, Ted Dix, Aaron Jansen, and Jody Brummage

Central Maryland recitalists Charlotte Young, Miriam Meglan, Peggy Brengle, Ted Dix, Aaron Jansen, and Jody Brummage

Central Maryland

November 8, the chapter presented its annual members’ recital at Westminster United Methodist Church; the theme was “Giving Thanks.” Four members of the Central Maryland chapter and two from the Baltimore chapter performed works by Karg-Elert, Mendelssohn, Bach, Dan Miller, Jehan Alain, and Jason Payne.

—Peggy Brengle

Recitalists Richard Gradone and Linda Loria (Metro New Jersey)

Recitalists Richard Gradone and Linda Loria (Metro New Jersey)

Metropolitan New Jersey 

October 19, the chapter sponsored a wonderful recital at St. Vincent Martyr Church, Madison. Host Lin­da Loria (organ) and Richard Gradone (trumpet) presented two recent works for trumpet and organ. Fantasy for a Festive Occasion was composed by David Schelat, music director at First and Central Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Del. Solstice Sonata, written by Carson Coo­man, consisted of four contrasting movements. Following the recital, chapter members gathered at a local Italian restaurant for lunch and conversation.

—Bev McGregor

Middlesex hymn-playing workshop participants Robert White, Kathryn and Jody Velloso, Joseph Suchocki, Thomas Hobson Williams, William Kistler, Shea Velloso, Brenda Day, and Jean Valk

Middlesex hymn-playing workshop participants Robert White, Kathryn and Jody Velloso, Joseph Suchocki, Thomas Hobson Williams, William Kistler, Shea Velloso, Brenda Day, and Jean Valk

Middlesex, NJ

October 17, The chapter hosted a workshop on hymn playing at the United Methodist Church, Milltown. Directed by Shea Velloso (dean), the event included discussion on hymn playing techniques and common problems. These focused on best practices for hymn introduction, tempo, key, and registration. The group also discussed aspects of hymn playing that make the music appealing to sing, such as accompaniments that are sensitive to lyrics, modulation, and alternative harmonizations. The event was followed by casual conversation with wine and cheese at the dean’s residence.

—Joseph Suchocki

Daryl Robinson (front, center) with Southwest Jersey materclass participants (left to right) Evelyn Larter, Christopher Daly, Joanne Owen, Vicki Nichols, and Maximillian Esmus

Daryl Robinson (front, center) with Southwest Jersey materclass participants (left to right) Evelyn Larter, Christopher Daly, Joanne Owen, Vicki Nichols, and Maximillian Esmus

Southwest Jersey

November 15, the chapter met at Haddonfield United Methodist Church (Wayne Richmond, host) for a masterclass with Daryl Robinson, 2012 NYACOP winner (first prize and audience prize) and the newest member of the organ faculty at Westminster Choir College. Members playing were Christopher Daly, Maximillian Esmus, Evelyn Larter, Vicki Nichols, and Joanne Owen.

November 16, Robinson played a recital cosponsored by the chapter and Haddonfield United Methodist. A reception followed.

—Joyce Ann Routon


Chambersburg and Cumberland Valley participants in Pipes Spooktacular program

Chambersburg, PA

October 30, Pipes Spooktacular was present­ed by chapter members and friends, along with the Cumberland Valley Chapter of Hagerstown, Md., at Mercersburg Academy Chapel. A wonderful variety of music, greatly enhanced by narration by Richard Rotz, was heard by a large audience. Per annual tradition, the audience and performers dressed in costumes, received “trick-or-treat candy” after the program, and were invited to come to the organ for a closer look at the instrument. The program included many appropriate organ solos as well as other instrumental pieces. A carillon prelude was played by Jim Brinson from Mercersburg Academy. Marimba, marionette dance, violin, and poetry all were part of what made this a fun re­cital for all ages to attend.

—Helen Wingert

Harrisburg, PA

September 22, a buffet dinner was held at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, Mechanicsburg (Justin Myers, host organist). Following dinner, filmmaker Dennis Lanson presenteda most interesting adventure by film titled To Hear the Music: The Opus 139 Project.

October 3 & 4, the chapter joined with Messiah College in sponsoring a weekend with Rhonda Sider Edgington, who lived her young­er life in the Harrisburg area, her parents being members of the chapter here. On Saturday, she talked about the years she spent in Europe, studying organ with Harald Vogel. She showed films of the churches she had seen and the organs she played during this experience. The following day, she gave an organ recital at the college, enjoyed by friends and chapter members.

November 14, Karl Moyer presented a seminar on “Hymn Styles and How to Play Them,” examining the theology that underlies the various major hymn-tune styles with which we lead our people’s singing. This event was held at Holy Trinity Lu­ther­an Church, in Hershey (Alan Hair, host organist). The morning began with coffee and breakfast treats, thanks to Phyllis Conrad and her hospitality commit­tee.


Presenter Karl Moyer (front, right) and Harrisburg seminar attendees (photo: Rick Zentmeyer)

Presenter Karl Moyer (front, right) and Harrisburg seminar attendees (photo: Rick Zentmeyer)

• The chapter is anticipating the sponsorship of a Pipe Organ Encounter Plus for adults, which will be centered at Messiah College, July 10–14. This will be 
the only POE+ in the nation this year, and we are excited about working toward a good experience for adults interested in learning more about organ playing.

—Mary Jane Nelson

Lehigh Valley, PA

November 21, chap­ter members gathered at Christ Lutheran Church, Allentown (Michael Krentz, host musician) for a workshop on “Hymn Styles and How to Play Them,” presented by Karl Moyer (this was the second installment of his workshop held last February). The material examined the theology and spirituality that underlies various major hymn styles that appear in most hymnals. Moyer led participants through a wide variety of hymns with lively enthusiasm and the premise that it is important to lead the singing of hymns in worship with informed authenticity. Through singing and demonstration, hymns from plainchant through Lutheran chorales, Calvinist Psalter tunes, hymns of Lowell Mason, the Mennonites, and Church of the Brethren among others were illustrated. Questions raised included: (1) What does the hymn mean spiritually and theologically? (2) How does the congregation best sing each kind of hymn? (3) How should the organist lead the people’s singing from the organ to help the sing­ing be the most sensitive toward a heightened sense of the hymn’s inner meaning? Moyer is a retired Millersville University of Pennsylvania music professor and an organist/director of music for several Lutheran and Episcopal congregations. Gail Hanzl arranged for morning refreshments.

Lehigh Valley members with Karl Moyer (at console) at workshop on "Hymn Styles and How to Play Them"

Lehigh Valley members with Karl Moyer (at console) at workshop on “Hymn Styles and How to Play Them”

—Gloria Snyder


Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza participants (Pennsylvania Northeast)

Pennsylvania Northeast

November 8, the chapter held its fifth Pedals, Pipes & Pizza event at St. Stanislaus Polish National Catholic Cathedral in Scranton. Peter Pi­cerno, host organist, demonstrat­ed the cathedral’s 1985 Aus­tin organ, assisted by Michael Sowa. Raphael Micca led games and activities for children while the adults participated in a question-and-answer session. Participants had ample opportunity to play the organ themselves and enjoyed pizza, punch, and fellowship at the end of the afternoon.

—Raphael Micca

Joe Russel, James Litton, Marcia Sommers, and Eric Meyer at Philadelphia event on the history of English choral music

Joe Russel, James Litton, Marcia Sommers, and Eric Meyer at Philadelphia event on the history of English choral music

Philadelphia, PA

October 28, the chapter and First Presbyterian Church presented Stephen Tharp in a gala celebration of the 15th anniversary of the installation of the church’s Reuter gallery organ. The program opened with the Overture to Handel’s Royal Fireworks and included transcriptions of Stravinsky’s Petroushka and Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes (Tharp) and the Scherzo from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony VI (Guillou). Also on the program was the “Prière après la communion” from Messiaen’s Livre du Saint Sacrement and Hakim’s Variations on Two Themes. More information about the organ and concert series may be found on the church’s website, Fpcphila.org.

November 7, James Litton spoke to members and guests about the history of English choral music since the Reformation and its influence on American choral music. Attendees sang through a substantial amount of literature and heard Litton’s wonderful stories of his experiences with these great cho­ral traditions on both sides of the Atlantic. The event was held at St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Chestnut Hill.

—Marcia Sommers


Pittsburgh’s Timothy Scott, Kate Scott Lee, and Tony Lee checking out the Jaeckel organ at Duquesne University (photo Stan Yoder)

Pittsburgh, PA

November 22, the Organ Artists Series presented Jona­than Rudy playing the 105-rank Reuter at Shadyside Presbyterian Church. Rudy won both the first prize and the audience prize of the National Young Artists Com­petition in Organ Performance at the 2014 AGO National Convention in Boston.

November 23, the monthly chapter dinner meeting was held at Duquesne University. The program featured the new 25-rank Jaeckel organ in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit on campus. Organ technician Peter Luley introduced participants to the organ, demonstrating its different sounds and also showing how the present instrument incor­porates some stops from its two predecessors. Guest organist Richard Spotts then played a recital of music from Charles Tournemire’s L’Orgue Mystique, choosing selections from the portion for the Sundays after Pentecost. The recital was the concluding event for a conference held at Duquesne University about Tournemire and L’Orgue Mystique.

—J. Barbara McKelway


Ted Bickish, Rich Maryman, Jim Sively, Bruce Hively, and Barbara Moore at Charlottesville-Albermarle music-sharing evint

Charlottesville-Albemarle, VA

November 10, the chapter held a “Member Share” of music for Lent and Easter. Participants were encouraged to bring music for organ and brass instruments. Jim Sivley, Alice Layman, Bruce Hively, Ted Bickish, Rick Maryman, and Barbara Moore shared various music. The event was held at Christ Episcopal Church and organists played on the Andover organ (2012), a restored E. & G.G. Hook organ (1868).

—Alice Layman

Winchester, VA

November 9, chapter members met at First Presbyterian Church (Pat Byers, host). Judy Connelly and Jeff Alban introduced new, varied, and usable organ and choral literature to 15 attendees. Marcia Merry provided “innovative” refreshments.

—Gloria Harris

Southeast Region

Guest artist Stephen Tharp and Central Florida members

Guest artist Stephen Tharp and Central Florida members

Central Florida

September 11, the chapter met at the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection in Longwood (host Tim Hanes, parish musician). After sharing dinner, the executive board reviewed the programs planned for the 2015–16 year. This was followed by a 9/11 Memorial Concert in the church. The program featured organ, brass, choir, and cello selections. Artists included the Resurrection Brass, Resurrection Choirs, Raphael Fernandez (cello), Tim Hanes (piano), and David Patrick (organ).

• October 27, the chapter presented a Hallo­ween Spooktacular program to a full audience in the 18th-floor chapel of the Orlando Lutheran Towers, a retirement community. The program opened with Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, played by Ture Larson. After the welcome by Dean Shan­non Fore, Josiah Armes played Callaerts Toccata in E Minor. Guest organist Tom Taylor, principal organist at Suntree United Methodist Church, Melbourne, Fla., provided creative and exciting accompaniment using the full resources of the V/85 Ruffatti, to the 94-minute 1925 silent film The Phantom of the Opera. A generous free-will offering, to benefit the chapter’s student organist scholarship fund, was received. Before a grand reception in the narthex, the program closed with prizes given to residents of The Towers wearing “Best in Show” costumes.

In November, the chapter present­ed an organ recital with Stephen Tharp at Morrison United Meth­odist Church in Leesburg (host David Bellows, director of music). Tharp played an exciting and eclectic program showing off all the resources of the Morrison organ. One highlight was The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Dukas, transcribed by Tharp. Additional photos can be seen on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CentalFloridaAGO.

—John F. Reilly and Ture Larson

Jacksonville FL

November 17, the chapter hosted a members’ recital at Palms Presbyterian Church, Jacksonville Beach. The program included solo organ works and works for organ and instrument. One performer, Patricia DeWitt, played the recorder and the organ simultaneously! Ronn Cummings and Cathy Fortson served as hosts.

—Tony Crus

Miami's Christopher Harrell (sub-dean) and Joanne N. Schulte (dean) with recitalist Caroline Robinson and Ft. Lauderdale's James Gensel (sub-dean) (photo: Joanne Schulte)

Miami’s Christopher Harrell (sub-dean) and Joanne N. Schulte (dean) with recitalist Caroline Robinson and Ft. Lauderdale’s James Gensel (sub-dean) (photo: Joanne Schulte)

Miami, FL

September 21, the chapter held a dinner for members and guest clergy at Coral Gables Congregational Church (host Ron Morgan, director of music ministries). After everyone was introduced, participants enjoyed a large buffet. Following dessert, Sub-dean Christopher Harrell introduced AGO Chaplain Don E. Saliers, who spoke on the need for churches to encourage new music, especially in hymn repertoire. Although the older laity often prefer what hymns they remember from Sunday School, family, and friends, and express their dislike for plainsong and contemporary music, young people usually like what is new and different. They are more adaptable, and in their choirs learn and then give exciting presentations of new materials to the delight of their parents and older members. A Roman priest member present volunteered that they have successfully presented new settings of service music by having it introduced by their youth choirs. Saliers concluded by going to the piano and surprising everyone as he accompanied himself singing a jazz-oriented hymn.

October 4, the Mi­ami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach chapters cosponsored an Emerging Artist Recital at the First Presbyterian Church of Delray Beach. Featured was Caroline Robinson, a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and a current candidate for a master’s degree at the Eastman School of Music. Her program was in two parts, beginning with several less familiar works (Buxtehude, Howells, Nico Muhly, and Brahms) for which she displayed great imagination in her registration. The second part included two large familiar compositions of Bach (BWV 532) and Widor (Symphony VI), the latter performed with great drama and extraordinary power. For those with reservations, this exciting event concluded with an Italian buffet.

—Frederick Kent

Joseph Holt demonstrating techniques for Sarasota-Manatee workshop participants

Joseph Holt demonstrating techniques for Sarasota-Manatee workshop participants

Sarasota-Manatee, FL

November 14, Joseph Holt led 65 singers in an intense choral workshop at First Congregational Church, Sarasota. Using humor mixed with expertise, Holt explored vocal techniques with a variety of warm-up exercises promoting breathing, diction, balance, and blend. The singers worked on four anthems, chosen to be useful in the various churches represented. Holt resides in Sarasota where he is artistic director of Gloria Musicae, Sarasota’s professional chorus. Co-chairs for this event were Greg Chestnut and Nancy Siebeckwe.

—Margaret Harris Smith

Atlanta recitalist Gail Archer at First Presbyterian Church of Marietta

Atlanta recitalist Gail Archer at First Presbyterian Church of Marietta

Atlanta, GA

November 17, the chapter met at First Presbyterian Church of Marietta, where Calvert Johnson (organist there) welcomed everyone, and a delicious dinner was served. An organ recital was presented by Gail Archer, director of the music program at Barnard College, Columbia University. The program featured compositions by female composers, including Johanna Senfter, Nadia Boulanger, and Jeanne Demessieux. Following the recital, the church’s chancel choir hosted a reception.

—Rachel Ficklin

Augusta, GA

November 16, the chapter met at the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd. Members and guests enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by host James Nord, director of music-organist. After dinner, they were joined by others from the church and community for a harpsichord recital in the parish hall. Boyd Jones, university organist and John E. and Aleise Price Professor of Organ at Stetson University, played Bach’s Goldberg Variations, BWV 988. The harpsichord is a German instrument made by John Phillips.

—David Salter

Charles Tompkins at the Mississippi College organ (jackson)

Charles Tompkins at the Mississippi College organ (jackson)

Jackson, MS

November 10, the chapter presented its first major recital of the season, featuring Charles Tompkins playing the Möller organ in Mississippi College’s antebellum Provine Chapel in Clinton. Tompkins is professor of organ at Furman University in Greenville, S.C. His well-chosen program included works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Rorem, Albright, and Jongen.

—Carol S. Durham

Central North Carolina Spooktacular performers David Cole, Glenn Little, Bill Weisser, Lee Harris, and David Jernigan

Central North Carolina Spooktacular performers David Cole, Glenn Little, Bill Weisser, Lee Harris, and David Jernigan

Central North Carolina

October 31, the chapter held a Spooktacular at Davie Street Presbyterian Church, Raleigh (Glenn Little, host organist). Participants played transcriptions from composers Webber, Chopin, Kullak, and selections by Boëllmann, Bach, and Eben. The program was well received by an enthusiastic audience, who participated in singing the Pumpkin Carols played by Dean Bill Weisser. Performers included David Cole, outgoing sub-dean (dressed as Fred Flintstone); Lee Harris, incoming treasurer (witch); David Jernigan (cowhand); Glenn Little (the hairy count); and Bill Weisser (the Devil).

—Lee Harris

Organist Thomas Brown at St. Phillip's Episcopal Church Durham-Chapel Hill

Organist Thomas Brown at St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church Durham-Chapel Hill

Durham-Chapel Hill, NC

November 13, members participated in a progressive organ crawl and dinner, organized by the Dur­ham Arts Council, which served as a fundraiser for its children’s arts programs. The crawl featured three of downtown Durham’s historic churches: Trinity United Methodist, St. Philip’s (Episcopal), and First Presbyterian. Trinity UMC was the setting for appetizers, and works by Reger, Marcello, and Boyce were played by organists Rozanna Goocey and Daniel Long, along with cellist Timothy Holley. The 1925 Skinner console was placed in the center front of the room and elevated. St. Philip’s Episcopal Church featured the main course and a brilliantly improvised prelude and fugue on “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” by organist Thomas Brown on the Goulding & Wood organ (1987). The dessert course and music by organist Kathryn C. Parkins and soprano Lesley Curtis completed the well-planned event, featuring the 1916 Austin at First Presbyterian Church. Liturgical architect and chapter member Terry Byrd Eason spoke at each church of their histories and designs.

—Zollene Reissner

Wilmington, NC

November 6, the chapter held a progressive dinner and recital. Three churches host­ed the event. Performers were Joann Guttman (organ) at Trinity United Methodist Church; Richard Rhoads (organ) at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church; and John Miller (organ) and Sharon Miller (piano) at St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church.

—Sara Bryant

Presenter Valerie Bullock with Charleston members Nancy Lefter and William Gudger

Presenter Valerie Bullock with Charleston members Nancy Lefter and William Gudger

Charleston, SC

October 19, chapter members gathered at the new­ly refurbished St. Matthew’s Lu­theran Church (Doug Ludlum, host) for dinner and a program by David Friddle: “Give Your Hymns the Gerre Hancock Treatment.” Having been a student of Hancock’s at Juilliard, Friddle shared the fruits of his long association with that master musician.

November 16, Charleston Southern University hosted the chapter’s meeting. Valerie Bullock (chair of the department of music and director of choral activities) presented an evening workshop titled “Our Utmost for His Highest (or How to Have an Effective Choral Rehearsal).” She discussed pacing the rehearsal and choosing suitable music as well as diction, vocal, and relaxation exercises.

—Edmund LeRoy

Spartanburg members' recital participant

Spartanburg members’ recital participant

Spartanburg, SC

November 15, a members’ recital was held at Cen­tral United Methodist Church. Excellent performances were given by Brennan Szafron, Mary Grace Hogan, John M. Bullard, Huger Caughman (dean) Alex­an­dra Lee, Margaret Hopper, Christopher Lane Hill, Alex Parler, and Bill Cooper (sub-dean). Central’s pipe organ is a three-manual, 38-rank Austin, Opus 2645 (1980). Works by Hesse, Bach, Macfarlane, Pachelbel, Walther, Handel, Brian Henkelmann, Margaret Sandresky, and Carolyn Hamlin were played.

—Bill Cooper

Memphis recitalist Crista Miller

Memphis recitalist Crista Miller

Memphis, TN

October 23, in memory of Billy J. Christian, the chapter presented Crista Miller in a recital at Idlewild Presbyterian Church, where Christian was organist-choirmaster from 1959 to 1983. Miller’s recital included music by Balbastre, Tour­nemire, Widor, Hakim, Correa de Araujo, and Bach.

—Jean Jones

Knoxville, TN

November 5, the chapter joined with the Univer­sity of Tennessee School of Music in presenting a recital by Rhonda Sider Edgington on the Richards, Fowkes organ in the Cox Auditorium of the Alumni Memorial Building on campus. Edgington is organist and music director at Hope Church in Holland, Mich., an accompanist at Hope College, and seminary organist at Western Seminary. Her program alternated selections from past centuries (Bach/Vival­di, Böhm, Buxtehude, et al.) with those of recent composers (Dan Locklair, Cecilia McDow­all, Patricia Van Ness, Ad Wammes, and Zsolt Gardonyi). The last of the modern pieces, by Gardonyi, was a tribute to three American jazz musicians: Errol Garner, Art Tatum, and Oscar Peterson. Following the recital, there was a reception. The next afternoon, Edgington led a two-hour masterclass.

—Allison Ensor

Nashville host Gayle Sullivan with recitalist Alcee Chriss

Nashville host Gayle Sullivan with recitalist Alcee Chriss

Nashville, TN

November 9, the chapter presented Alcee Chriss III in recital at Belmont United Methodist Church (Gayle Sullivan, host). A 2014 Rising Star, he played works by Boëly, Liszt, Guillou, and Schumann, and closed with Dupré’s Symphonie-Passion. A dinner at the church preceded the recital.

—Rhonda Swanson

Great Lakes Region

Chicago, IL

October 18, chapter members gathered on a beautiful autumn afternoon inside the stunning acoustic of St. Mary of Angels Roman Catholic Church in the Bucktown neighborhood to welcome the Mainz Cathedral Choir from Germany on their North American tour. The 60-member ensemble of men and boys, under the direction of Karsten Storck, performed an entirely a cappella program featuring sacred literature from Gregorian chant to 20th-century works. The program included a ten-minute lecture by Storck on the history of the Cathedral at Mainz and the music program as it has existed over the last century. The program concluded with three traditional German folksongs followed by a standing ovation—and an encore: Psalm 91 “Denn er hat seinen Engeln befohlen” by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy.

—John Ligda

German's Mainz Cathedral Choir at Chicago event

German’s Mainz Cathedral Choir at Chicago event

Recitalist Greg Zelek during celebration of David K. Lamb's 40 years of service to church music

Recitalist Greg Zelek during celebration of David K. Lamb’s 40 years of service to church music

Southern Indiana.

In October, chapter members helped sponsor organist and Juilliard graduate student Greg Zelek in programs celebrating 40 years of service in church music by David K. Lamb, AGO national councillor for membership/convener of regional councillors.

October 23, a concert was held at Trinity United Methodist Church in New Albany, where Lamb is music director. Oct. 24, a program titled “Musing and Munching: Greg Zelek Shares Some of His Favorites” was held at Lamb’s home in Clarksville. Oct. 25, “Seasons of Celebration II,” sponsored by and held at Trinity, featured the combined choirs of Trinity UMC and First United Methodist Church of Columbus, with Lamb (conductor), Zelek (organ), and Sharon Herndon (piano). What a wonderful weekend of music in celebration of Dr. Lamb’s service!

—Judith E. Miller

Presenter David Baskeyfield and participants in Grand Rapids program on the 19th and 20th-century English organs

Presenter David Baskeyfield and participants in Grand Rapids program on the 19th and 20th-century English organs

Grand Rapids, MI

October 23, the chapter and Fountain Street Church cosponsored a showing of The Phantom of the Opera, featuring organ accompaniment by Steven Ball, organist and director of outreach for the world’s largest pipe organ, located at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. Soprano Juliet Petrus, who was seated in the balcony, sang selections when the film soprano was on screen. The performance was enthusiastically received by the large audience.

• November 4, the chapter held its 19th Pipeline program for fourth-grade students at Central Reformed Church (Brian Bartusch, host organist). More than 500 students from seven schools attended. The program is planned and executed by the chapter, with funding supplied by the Anne VanderHeide Fund of the Grand Rapids Foundation. Joel Gary recruited the students, gaining school support and enlisting the organists to perform. Dean Helen Hawley presented Bach’s Toccata in D Minor; Joel Gary accompanied a short silent film of Laurel and Hardy; Jonathan Tuuk and Larry Biser presented Rex: The King of Instruments; and local organbuilder James Lauck gave a dem­onstration of how an organ works, concluding with a human organ of delighted students playing three ranks of pipes and performing “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Angelina Ge, a ten-year-old piano student of Marilyn Slenk, played a sonatina of Friedrich Kuhlau on the organ. The program opened with a rousing rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” sung by all and accompanied by Joel Gary. As the students retired from the church, they filed around the five-manual console while Peter Kurdziel played the theme from Star Wars. All performers were televised on a large screen to make them visible to the large audience of students.

• November 15, the chapter cosponsored a recital by David Baskeyfield at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. His stimulating performance on the four-manual, 67-rank J.W. Walker organ was well attended, and he received a standing ovation at the end. At the chapter meeting the following evening, Baskeyfield spoke about the development of 19th- and 20th-century English organs. He began with the 1832 Elliot and Hill organ at York Minster, moving to the 1834 Hill organ at Birmingham Town Hall, the 1877 Father Willis at Salisbury Cathedral, the 1912 Harrison & Harrison at St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, and the 1902 Willis I and II at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. The lecture, comparing sounds of different organbuild­ers, included photos and sound bites of the various instruments. Baskeyfield finished with a brief survey of the organ at the Royal Festival Hall.

—Helen Hawley and Larry Biser

Saginaw Valley, MI

November 15, Carl Angelo played the annual Kent S. Dennis Memorial Organ Recital at the Memorial Presbyterian Church, Midland. The recital included music by Hakim, Messiaen, Roger-Ducasse, Tour­nemire, and Vierne. Donations from the event benefited the Kent S. Dennis Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund, held by the Midland Area Community Foundation, which encourages and enriches the musical education of present and future church or synagogue organists in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

—Nicholas Schmelter

Ron Krebs, James Thomashower (AGO Executive Director) and Tom Watgen (dean) at Greater Kansas City

Ron Krebs, James Thomashower (AGO Executive Director) and Tom Watgen (Dean) at Greater Kansas City

North Central Region

Greater Kansas City, MO

November 16, chapter members met at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Olathe, Kans. (host Tom Watgen, dean and church organist). The meeting began with an organ prelude by Ron Krebs. The main event for the meeting was a keynote address by James Thomashower, AGO executive director. In his usual engaging and upbeat style, he shared comments with chapter members about current developments at AGO Headquarters, trends and trials within the Guild, and plans for the national convention to be hosted by our chapter in 2018.

—Mike Maiden

Recitalist John Schwandt at the Scottish Rite Cathedral

Recitalist John Schwandt at the Scottish Rite Cathedral

St. Louis, MO

November 6, chapter members attended a recital by John Schwandt, associate professor of organ and director of the American Organ Institute, University of Oklahoma School of Music. He played repertoire to display the diverse sounds of the Kimball theater organ at the Scottish Rite Cathedral. This massive 1924 instrument has been restored by Al Haker and friends from the local chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society. The program included classical and popular pieces arranged for pipe organ, a tonal tour of the instrument, and a portion of Widor’s Symphony V. The grandeur and scale of the hall, the stylish registrations, and the colorful dialogue combined with excellent playing to create an entertaining and seat-rumbling evening. Schwandt’s grand finale was an improvisation based on a local theme, the Scottish Rite Hymn, and “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

—Dawn Riske

Lincoln recitalist Christopher Marks and Bedient Opus 8

Lincoln recitalist Christopher Marks and Bedient Opus 8

Lincoln, NB

In November, the chapter toured the breathtakingly beautiful new St. Thomas Aquinas Church on the city campus of the University of Nebras­ka-Lincoln. Members received a tour of the sanctuary that is part of the 60,000-square-foot, $25-million facility. A special treat was hearing again Opus 8 of the Bedient Organ Company, a locally based pipe organ builder. This instrument, which takes inspiration from northern European instruments, was originally installed in 1973 in the Cornerstone student chapel. When the chapel closed, St. Tho­mas Aquinas purchased the organ and Bedient personnel reinstalled it in the church. Chris­topher Marks, associate dean at UNL School of Music, played a recital to show the full tonal resources of the organ in its new home. The acoustics proved to be perfect, and those attending were gratified to hear Opus 8 sounding so good in its new home. Afterward, members enjoyed eating lunch together.

—Sinda Dux

Madison, WI

November 14, chapter members visited the workshop of organbuilder Bruce Case in Verona. He explained tracker action and outlined the steps involved in the building of a mechanical-action organ. The visitors saw his current project, a portable pipe organ, and heard about some others. Examples of the different kinds of organ pipes used were on display, and Case talked about the various materials used in organbuilding. Refreshments were served after the tour.

—Naomi Matthees

Madison chapter members visit the workshop of organbuilder Bruce Case

Madison chapter members visit the workshop of organbuilder Bruce Case

Southwest Region

Albuquerque-NM-Chapter-NewsAlbuquerque, NM

October 17, the chapter held a Pedals, Pipes & Pizza program at Holy Cross Lutheran Church (Lois Engelkes, host). The church has a small two-manual Wicks instrument with exposed pipes that were at close range to the console. This enabled the students to see and learn about the ranks and to learn how the wind from the chests, blowing through the pipes, creates the sound. The students were then given an opportunity to play the organ. The program was led by Steve Woodbury, director of music and worship and St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Rio Rancho. Pizza and dessert were served in the narthex.

• November 21, also at St. Thomas Aquinas, Vespers was held to honor the feast day of St. Cecilia. It was followed by a concert of organ and vocal music. Participating organists from the chapter included Jane Smith, Sanelma Sutton, Lois Engelkes, Steven Woodbury, and James Yeager. Gloria Chavez-Robinson, recent past-dean, introduced each performer and also encouraged young members in the audience to study organ.

—Sanelma Sutton

Austin recitalists Chris Oelkers, David Polley, Helen Wiley, Christina Hargis, Jean Fuller, and Paul Keith


Austin, TX

November 8, members gathered at St. Louis King of France Catholic Church (Chris Oelkers, host) for an all-Franck members’ recital. Performing were Jean Fuller, Christina Hargis, Paul Keith, Chris Oelkers, David Polley, and Helen Wiley.

—Jack Martin


Central Texas.

November 17, the chapter met at McAlister’s Deli in Waco for a supper-social time and then proceeded to Hewitt First United Church. Dean Bobby Safley conducted a short business meeting, followed by an evening program of “Music for the Holidays.” Those sharing music included Safley, Brad White, Bonnie Belanger, Lottie Evans, Doris Scott, Tony Golman, and Melissa Loudermilk. A good time of fellowship and music was enjoyed by all those present.

—Lottie S. Evans

J. Marty Cope, director of music at Park Cities Presbyterian Church; guest organist Simon Johnson; and Grady Coyle, director of the Robert T. Anderson Recital Series (Dallas) (photo: William Leaser)

J. Marty Cope, Director of Music at Park Cities Presbyterian Church; guest organist Simon Johnson; and Grady Coyle, Director of the Robert T. Anderson Recital Series (Dallas) (photo: William Leaser)

Dallas, TX

November 6, the chapter cosponsored, with Park Cities Presbyterian Church Performing Arts, its first Robert T. Anderson recital of the 2015–16 season. Featured organist was Simon Johnson (assistant music director of London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral), who played the church’s Schoenstein Opus 150 (2007). His program focused on English composers Whitlock, Byrd, Howells, Walton, and Stanford, and also included works by Reger, Widor, and Vierne. Following the recital, a reception for donors to the recital series was held in the home of Gordon McMillan.

—William Leazer

West Region

Southern Arizona

September 26, the chapter cosponsored, with Cata­lina United Methodist Church, a concert honoring the memory and celebrating the legacy of Roy A. Johnson Jr. Dennis Grannan (dean) welcomed more than 400 attendees and introduced special guests Renée Anne Louprette and Chelsea Chen, who played the church’s IV/57 Quimby organ (2014). Louprette offered works by Bach and Franck and, as a special tribute, Fantasy on the Name of Roy Andrew Johnson, composed by Pamela Decker. Chen, accompanied by Anna Gendler (violin), played Biery’s Elegy, which he composed in memory of Johnson. She also played three of Johnson’s favorite works by Bach, Brahms, and Dupré. A special chorus of 80 singers from eleven Tucson churches sang Mozart’s “Lacrymosa,” directed by Jonathan Kim, and Brahms’s “How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place,” directed by Woosug Kang. Accompaniment was provided by David Wachter, Lynn Moser, and Raymond Ryder, all former organ students of Johnson. John Bro­beck, University of Arizona music professor, shared comments and remembrances of working with Johnson, whose 29 years as a faculty member of the University of Arizona School of Music resulted in significant accomplishments for the keyboard studies area, and the organ program in particular. One of Johnson’s major accomplishments was guiding the design and construction of an acoustically appropriate organ recital hall and a teaching and recital instrument—the III/33 Schoenstein organ, on which he played the dedicatory recital shortly before his tragic and untimely death in 1995. A gala reception for performers, special guests, and a delighted audience followed the concert.

—David A. Horr

Long Beach recitalists David York and Peter Bates

Long Beach recitalists David York and Peter Bates

Long Beach, CA

November 10, the chapter presented an educational evening on the music of Franck. First on the program was a video presentation titled Franck: Father of the Organ Symphony. After, David York and Peter Bates played the chorals No. 1 in E Ma­jor and No. 3 in A Minor, respectively. Peter Bates was host organist.

—David Feit-Pretzer

San Diego, CA

November 15, the chapter’s fall student recital was held at All Souls’ Episcopal Church, with 14 young students performing on the church’s Paul Fritts & Ralph Richards, Opus 5 (1986).

—Leslie Wolf Robb

San Diego student recitalists

San Diego student recitalists

San Jose recitalist Ugo Sforza

San Jose recitalist Ugo Sforza

San Jose, CA

Oct. 9, Ugo Sforza presented an outstanding recital on the III/57 Balcom & Vaughan organ (1986) at Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church. An appreciative audience of around 100 enjoyed an evening of inspiring organ music. The program opened with Franck’s grand Pièce héroïque and showcased several of Sforza’s original compositions and arrangements. He closed with Widor’s monumental Symphony VI—a performance that brought the audience to its feet. Sforza’s encores included a piano solo and then an improvisation on “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Honored at the recital was John Moir, the tonal de-signer and primary builder of Sunnyvale’s organ. Moir, now president of Balcom & Vaughan, has faithfully maintained and upgraded the instrument over the years. Sforza is quite fond of this particular pipe organ, and throughout his recital showcased its various stops and tonal colors, as well as the full organ. The chapter is grateful to the many AGO members who helped with the recital and reception afterward. To hear excerpts from Sforz’s recitals at Sunnyvale Presbyterian Church, visit Ugosforza. jimdo.com.

—Valerie Sterk

Eugene members at PipeScreams event

Eugene members at PipeScreams event

Eugene, OR

October 24, the chap­ter held its annual PipeScreams event to raise funds for the radio broadcast of The Organ Loft on classical music station KWAX. (Locals pronounce this “kwacks” because it reminds them of a Duck, our college mascot.) This year’s venue was First Congregational Church, where the three-manual pipe organ has plenty of memory levels for multiple players to save their piston settings. Master of ceremonies was Scott Johnson, a local medical doctor with a talent for showmanship. He warmed up the audience with Halloween-inspired bantering. Then he moved to the organ console, sat down, and appeared to begin playing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. But appearances can be deceiving, especially around Halloween! Barbara Baird, dressed in a ghoulish costume, came alongside Johnson and whisked him off the bench, as she played the Fugue by her not-recorded real self. It was a fun moment, thanks once again to electronic organ wizardry. Johnson interviewed our young­est player, Peter Scheessele, age seven, right after the latter played Witches’ Ride by Frederick Werle. The youngster has been playing for chapter events for several years and is admired for his youthful talent and personable stage presence. Donations were collected midway through the concert; Gail Goshert provided organ accompaniment as the audience sang Halloween Carols to familiar Christmas tunes. Additional PipeScreams performers included Sarah Massie, Richard Guy, Martha Lawrence, Craig Hanson, Barbara Baird, Karen Williamson, and Julia Brown. Dan Rinnan played the Introduction, Variations, and Fugue on “Ah! Vous dirai-je, Maman” by Johann Rinck, recognized as the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” He surprised us all when he turned on the twinkling lights on the back of his jacket for the final statement of the tune.

—Karen Williamson

Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza participants

Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza participants

Salt Lake City, UT

September 13, more than 30 members gathered for a social dinner at First Presbyterian Church. Afterward, Gabriele Terrone, assistant director of music-organist at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, played the inaugural recital of the 22nd annual Eccles Organ Festival. The program featured works by Jehan Alain, Bach, Franck, and Eben, plus Widor’s Symphony VI.

October 17, more than 60 young organists, their teachers, and parents came to our Pedals, Pipes & Pizza event. Bill Hesterman taught them how the organ works using a small dem­onstration organ that allows visualization of the entire action, pipes, swell shades, hand-pumped bellows, etc. Following the dem­onstration, attendees had the opportunity to play a three-manual Austin practice organ, the III/65 Robert Sipe organ in the Assembly Hall, and the V/206 Aeolian-Skinner in the Tabernacle. Then Linda Margetts, FAGO, one of the staff organists, played the daily noon recital. The students were provided with sources for organ music, technique basics, contacts for organ teachers, and other helpful resources. The event was a great success, and everyone had smiles on their faces as they experienced the organs.

—Alex Oldroyd

Olympic Peninsula gathering

Olympic Peninsula gathering

Olympic Peninsula, WA

November 14–15, chapter members had an organ-filled weekend. On Saturday morning, they met for “Organists’ Movie Brunch” at First Lutheran Church, Poulsbo. They enjoyed a potluck meal while watching a documentary about the Wanamaker organ. Later, at Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon performances, Peggy Maurer played the Saint-Saëns Organ Symphony with the Bremerton Symphony on the newly installed Möller at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, Bremerton. On Sunday, several members traveled to Plymouth Church, Seattle, to hear Douglas Cleveland play the dedicatory recital on the new Fisk organ that the chapter had visited in October.

—Joann Richardson

Seattle discussion leaders Danae Ashley (standing) and Dennie Carcelli (seated, in red) with chapter members (photo: David Nichols)

Seattle discussion leaders Danae Ashley (standing) and Dennie Carcelli (seated, in red) with chapter members (photo: David Nichols)

Seattle, WA

November 16, the chapter met at St. Andrew’s Lu­theran Church in Bellevue. Host Will Simpson introduced the evening’s facilitators for a program titled “Aging, Retirement, and Intergenerational Communication.” The Rev. Danae M. Ashley, Episcopal priest and marriage and family therapist, and the Rev. Dennie Carcelli, Presbyterian minister, guided group discussions dealing with topics including Transitions and Anxiety, Aging and Retirement as Transition, and Generational Communication. Attendees found it very helpful to share their experiences and discuss such thought-provoking questions with others in the profession. The discussion also gave participants an opportunity to become better acquainted with each other.

—David Stinson

Tacoma, WA

November 9, University of Washington doctoral degree candidate Sarah Duffy presented an engaging lecture-dem­- onstration based on her study of the finales of Charles Tournemire’s monumental liturgical work L’Orgue Mystique at Ta­coma’s beautiful and historic First Presbyterian Church. This work contains 51 sets of (five) pieces for use throughout the Catholic church year, each featuring Gregorian chants for the day. Starting with Tournemire’s life and training, Duffy discussed how his deep faith shaped his musical creativity, and went on to show how the various chants are interwoven into the musical material, and how musical devices are used to illustrate religious themes of the day. There was also interesting discussion of how the juxtaposition of different chant modalities creates dissonance. For the second part of the program, Duffy made good use of the historic four-manual, Reuter organ (1925)—including its two rear antiphonal divisions—in presenting fine performanc­es of excerpts for Ascension and Immaculate Conception, as well as the Paraphase-Carillon for Assumption.

—Una Hwang

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