April 2017

NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley
NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley

Andrea Handley

If you like Rubik’s cubes, you’re going to love this Dean’s Column…

This year, the task of our nominating committee should have been quite simple: to find four candidates for board positions.  Three positions are three-year terms, to replace the retiring board members this year (Stephen Folkers, Jill Hunt and Evan Duvall).  The fourth is a two-year term, to replace a Class of 2019 board member who had to resign.  A huge thanks to Royce Eckhardt and Lee Nelson, who worked quickly and well to present us with four wonderful candidates.

For any of you paying close attention, this is also the year that we normally would be electing four new officers, all of whom are completing 2-year-terms.  However, for some time, we’ve been aware that somewhere along the line, our chapter got ‘out-of-sync’ with the national norm of electing officers on even-numbered years. Our officer elections, for unknown reasons, and for some time, have been on odd-numbered years.  So as we began the nominating process a few months ago, we discussed the possibility of electing the current officers for another year, thus putting us back in compliance with the national norm.  Three of our current officers agreed to extend their terms for another year – Dean, Sub-dean, and Treasurer. Our secretary, Christine Kraemer, having now completed seven years of service to our board (thank you, Christine!), preferred to rotate off at this point.  Thankfully, a current board member, Rich Leasure, expressed interest in filling that position for a year.  And – just to confuse you further – Evan Duvall, who had been serving 2 years of a vacated board position and was due to rotate off this year, agreed to serve the remaining 2 years of Rich Leasure’s board position as Rich moves to Secretary.

So the above may have been way too much information for some of you, and may have left some of you scratching your heads. To hopefully simplify, below is the slate we’re presenting for election:

OFFICERS (a one-year term to put our chapter in compliance with officer elections being held on even-numbered years next year):
Andrea Handley, Dean (continuing)
Sharon Peterson, Sub-dean (continuing)
Rich Leasure, Secretary (moving from board position, Class of 2019)
Laurie Stivers, Treasurer (continuing)

Class of 2020:
Richard Clemmitt (new)
Elizabeth Naegele (new)
Richard Spears (new)

Class of 2019:
Judy Kohl (new, to replace Rich Leasure)
Evan Duvall (moving from Class of 2017 board position, to replace Barry Wenger)

Now that you’re either clear or thoroughly confused, read on to find short biographies of all of the above candidates. Once you’ve read their stories, please click on this link to vote: http://northshoreago.org/2017-2018-nsago-board-slate/


Richard Clemmitt

RICHARD CLEMMITT is the Organist and Choirmaster of Christ Church, Winnetka, where since 1992 he has managed an RSCM program that includes participation by children, teenagers, and adults. Working together with Organ Associate Jay Peterson, he and the Christ Church Choir not only provide music for services at home but also tour yearly, both in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Richard earned his BM in organ performance from New England Conservatory as a pupil of Yuko Hayashi and his MM in choral conducting from Westminster Choir College as a pupil of Joseph Flummerfelt. In addition to playing and conducting, Richard enjoys composing and has music published by GIA, Hope, and H.T. FitzSimons. He and his wife, Elizabeth (also a musician), live in Wilmette and have two sons, Ethan (20) and Adam (17). In addition to music-making, Richard and his family love hiking in the Colorado Rockies.


Elizabeth Naegele

ELIZABETH NAEGELE took her first music lessons on a “pump organ” (harmonium) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa, where her parents were missionaries. Following graduation from the American High School of Kinshasa, Congo, she began classical organ study, first at Moody Bible Institute with Lillian Robinson and then with Corliss Arnold at Michigan State University. In 1989, she completed doctoral studies in organ performance at Northwestern University where she was a student of Wolfgang Rübsam.

Since 1976, Dr. Naegele has been a member of the faculty at Moody Bible Institute, where she is Professor of Music and Coordinator of Organ Instruction and Ethnomusicology, having helped Moody develop coursework in world music and an emphasis in ethnomusicology. An active member of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) and the Organ Historical Society (OHS), Dr. Naegele has performed for two national conventions of the OHS and served on planning committees for the 2006 National AGO Convention and the 2012 OHS National Convention, which were both held in Chicago.

Since 1990, Dr. Naegele has also been Director of Music and Organist at the First Presbyterian Church of Waukegan, Illinois, where her responsibilities include conducting the church’s orchestra and handbell choirs. She has two grown children, Heidi and Nick, and her husband Mike is an archaeologist.


Richard Spears

Most of the early musical life of RICHARD SPEARS was spent in church, school, and university choirs, piano lessons, and a start on the organ. He recalls “Vocal Camp” at Westminster Choir College during John Finley Williamson’s leadership as a “life-changing” experience. As a undergraduate, he began working part-time in organ tuning, service and installation for the Reuter Organ Company, and studied linguistics in graduate school at Indiana University while also operating his own part-time organ service business.

Richard later joined the Northwestern University Linguistics faculty (phonetics, acoustics), and after 26 years left the University for a related job in lexicography (dictionary compiling) at McGraw-Hill Professional. He retired from in 2001, having authored about 400 dictionary editions.

In retirement, Richard has been a world-wide traveler, has resumed organ studies and attends OHS conventions. He is presently working on an autobiography and a volume titled American English Phonetics for Choral Singing. He is widowed, father of four, grandfather to eleven and great-grandfather to three.



Judy Kohl

JUDY KOHL received a Bachelor of Music degree from Wheaton College Conservatory of Music in Organ Performance in 1979. In 1981, she received a Masters of Music degree from Northwestern University in Church Music where she studied with Richard Enright and Wolfgang Rubsom.

She has held many music positions in the Chicago area, most recently as the Director of Music at Christ Church Lake Forest, planning all the services as well as overseeing the vocal choirs, bell choir and service ensembles. Presently she substitutes in churches and synagogues around the North Shore as well as other music opportunities, including playing with the Lake Forest Civic Orchestra as well as being the accompanist for different local school events. She also enjoys writing and performing some of her own pieces.

Having launched four children, she sees this time in life as a whole new adventure. She owns a fair trade store in Lake Forest called The Mustard Seed where they give back all of their profits to those who are less fortunate. In the same vein, this seems like the time in life to give back musically, so she is honored to be considered to serve on the North Shore AGO Board for the coming term.



Richard Leasure

Richard Leasure attended Westminster College ( Pennsylvania ) and Northwestern University where he earned his B.M. and M.M. in church music with an organ major.  After 35 years of an information technology career, and continuous part-time organist and organist/director positions, he’s had the best of both worlds.  After seven years as organist at the Presbyterian Church of Barrington, he “retired” in 2014 and has been active as a substitute organist since then.  An AGO member since college, and as a dual member of the Fox Valley and North Shore AGO chapters, Richard is looking forward to being more involved, especially after IT retirement in a few years.




NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley

Andrea Handley

Andrea Handley is Organist at Trinity United Methodist Church in Wilmette, IL.   She has served as Director of Music and Organist at First Presbyterian Church of Evanston, Organist at Winnetka Presbyterian Church, and Organist at Marvin United Methodist Church in Tyler, TX.  She received her undergraduate degree in piano from the Indiana University School of Music, and Master of Music degree in Organ from the American Conservatory of Music, and holds the Associate Certificate from the American Guild of Organists.  She has served as board member and sub-dean for the Chicago chapter, as board member for the North Shore AGO chapter, and is completing a 2-year term as dean of the North Shore chapter.  Andrea has played recitals throughout the Chicago area, including Fourth Presbyterian Church, Elliott Chapel, College Church of Wheaton, Holy Name Cathedral and the Chicago Temple.  Also Musical Director of the Chicago Bronze, a community-based handbell ensemble, she is a published composer of numerous handbell arrangements.  She lives in Evanston with her husband, a Presbyterian pastor.  She has three grown children, one a pastor, one a professional cellist, and one a childcare worker.  And last but not definitely not least, she has three adorable grandchildren, ages 3, 1 and 1 month!


Sharon Peterson

Sharon R. Peterson

Pianist for the Chicago Symphony Chorus since auditioning as a college student in 1978, Sharon R. Peterson continues as Rehearsal Pianist for the CSC as well as Accompanist at Northwestern University, North Park University, and North Shore Choral Society. Sharon served as Accompanist for several years for Chicago Symphony Singers and CSC’s ensembles.  She was recently the Score Reader for the filming of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, performed by the CSO and CSC. During the seven years spent living in Sweden and Norway, Sharon developed a specialty in Scandinavian Piano Repertoire and worked as Staff Accompanist at The Royal Academy of Music in Oslo, Norway.  Studying with Elizabeth Buccheri at North Park College, BM degree, and Robert Weirich at Northwestern University, MM degree, Sharon accompanied the Lyric Opera Chorus for eight seasons, was Music Director of the Lyric’s “Opera In the Neighborhood” touring production of The Magic Flute, and she worked as Ballet Accompanist for LOOC’s 2014 production of Mozart’s “La Clemenza di Tito.” Having served as Staff Accompanist at Roosevelt University, and Accompanist in the studios of soprano Maria Lagios and saxophonist Frederick L. Hemke as well as regularly performing with singers Kathleen and Peter Van De Graaff,  saxophonists, and CSO Principal Trumpet Chris Martin. Since completing many years as Organist at North Park Covenant Church in Chicago, IL, Sharon current serves as Interim Organist at St. James Cathedral in Chicago. She coaches voice privately, specializing in Swedish and Norwegian languages and repertoire, is Organist at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, and serves on the board of the North Shore Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.


Laurie Stivers headshot

Laurie Stivers

Laurie Stivers began her organ studies at Augustana College, Rock Island, Il.  She currently is the associate organist at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Evanston.   She has worked for Cardinal Heath and its predecessor organizations (Allegiance, Baxter, American Hospital Supply)  for 29 years in a variety of accounting, operations, and business consulting roles.  Laurie passed the CPA exam in 1986.  Her preparation for the exam as well has her professional work experience has given her much experience in completing account reconciliations.  This translates into being able to balance a checkbook more easily than playing a Bach trio.


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