I believe that it is through us and our music that God speaks to people every bit as much as through the spoken word. As a musician in church and in the synagogue, I am always reminded of how my playing touches the lives of the parishioners. Currently, I am the organist at First Presbyterian Church of Deerfield and accompanist at Lakeside Congregation for Reform Judaism in Highland Park, IL. In addition, I teach private piano lessons and am the staff accompanist for the music department at Vernon Hills High School. I also taught piano, composition, theory and music literature at Trinity Christian College and the American Conservatory of Music.
I have been involved in music throughout my life, having earned a Bachelor of Music degree in composition from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY and Masters and Doctorate degrees in composition with high distinction from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. Besides my playing responsibilities, I am also active as a soloist and accompanist in a variety of other venues. These include the Downers Grove Choral Society, the New Classic Singers, Kol Zimrah, Beverly-Morgan Park Choir, Waukegan Concert Chorus, the ILMEA District VII Senior Division Honors Choir, and the Buffalo Grove Symphonic Band. I have enjoyed playing for several notable conductors in the Chicago area, as well as performing on a number of interesting organs, ranging from the Reed-Barton organ (used to accompany silent movies in their “heyday”) at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, IL to the Casavant organ in Orchestra Hall and the 100-rank Aeolian-Skinner organ in Alice Millar Chapel at Northwestern University as part of the WFMT Bach Organ Project.
In the tradition of J.S. Bach, I often am called upon to write specific compositions for various instruments or a given situation. Recent performances include a work I composed for organ and the Lincoln Park Brass Ensemble: “Fanfare and Aria”. My “Holy, Holy, Holy”, for choir and piano was premiered in November 2015 in Greensboro, North Carolina and the upcoming performance of my arrangement of “Amazing Grace” for soprano, clarinet and piano will be premiered on February 19, at First Presbyterian Deerfield. A short choral work of mine, “Old Irish Blessing”, will be performed by the Beverly-Morgan Park Community Choir at their spring concert on April 2 at St. Cajetan’s Church in Chicago. I have written other works for the Lakeside Congregation for Reform Judaism and the Kol Zimrah Choir. First Presbyterian Deerfield commissioned me to write “Gloria”, for adult mixed choir, youth and children’s choirs, organ, piano, guitars, bass guitar and percussion. I also wrote a “Festival Overture” commissioned by the Buffalo Grove Symphonic Band, commemorating the village’s 50th anniversary.
Busy musicians also need to unwind and keep balance in our lives! When I am not making music, I enjoy walks on the DesPlaines River Trail and I also make frequent visits to Chain O’ Lakes and Moraine Hills State Parks where I like to hike. If I have more time on a given day I may sometimes venture to Starved Rock. I really like spring and summer and the fall foliage.
We organists should never take for granted what we do or the reasons why we are doing it. People often tell me what a wonderful experience it is for them when I play. That’s what keeps me going. I hope to meet more friends in the AGO to collaborate and share more experiences. Feel free to visit at my church, First Presbyterian Church in Deerfield. I always welcome opportunities to host groups or individuals.