I recently joined the NSAGO this past summer after I began my new position as Minister of Music and Organist at First United Methodist Church in Evanston. My wife Annastasia and I are both from Kenosha and we were excited to move back to the Midwest after several years in New Jersey and New York during my graduate studies.
My first encounter with the organ was through organ lessons sponsored by the Worship, Music, and Arts committee at St. Mary’s Lutheran in Kenosha. These first lessons with Michael Burkhardt involved working on repertoire and service playing but also focused on improvisation. As I gradually developed a repertoire, I composed and arranged pieces for instrumental ensembles at my church (including a 20-member saxophone ensemble!). I continued my studies with Richard Hoskins at Carthage College where I completed a triple emphasis in Organ Performance, Church Music, and Instrumental Music Education which included student teaching at New Trier and serving as Organ Scholar at St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal in Chicago.
During my master’s at Westminster Choir College and my doctoral studies at the Eastman School of Music I was fortunate to study with some of America’s leading organists and pedagogues. The sense of community among organists in both in Princeton and Rochester was inspiring – organ music was and is alive and well. While in Rochester, I was fortunate to coordinate two of Eastman’s organ concert series (one weekly, one monthly) featuring Eastman’s Italian Baroque Organ and our department actively sought to bring organ music to new audiences.
In addition to my role as an organist, I’m passionate about my career in church music. I’m actively involved as a member of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians and the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts and I enjoy crafting liturgies that utilize the best choral and organ music from all eras and traditions. As a church musician, I’m grateful for the opportunity to teach, conduct, improvise, compose, and perform on a regular basis along with a group of dedicated musicians of all ages.
I look forward to getting to know everyone in the North Shore chapter and taking part in events that help us hone our craft and performances in which we can share our music with the community. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!