December 2017
The 60th Anniversary Fun Continues

NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley
NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley

Andrea Handley

We have now had two incredible programs in our 60th anniversary season. Scroll down – after reading this, of course – to see a review of Janette Fishell’s thoughtfully planned and beautifully executed recital at Millar Chapel on November 10, and then read about the very enjoyable and informative masterclass the following morning.

As we all face collectively hundreds of rehearsals, services and concerts in the coming weeks, I ask you all to consider adding one quick thing to your to-do list.  Invite a non-AGO organist friend or a non-active AGO friend to come with you to the Epiphany party on Friday, January 5.  It’s a great time for organists to celebrate – all our hard December work is done and we can relax and share stories.  This year, in keeping with our anniversary theme, we will feature a trivia game involving the history of our chapter. So most especially if you are a long-time member, WE NEED YOU to come play this game! We will gather at 6pm for drinks and appetizers, followed by dinner at 6:30pm.  Look for an Evite in the next few weeks, and just add the number of your guest/s to your RSVP.  We look forward to seeing many of you.

On another topic, we are in the midst of updating our chapter directory, and need your help. In the past we have asked you all to send your more detailed information to us via an email directly to us. But we’ve decided that it’s more efficient to ask you all to make sure your personal/employment information is added/updated in ONCARD. We will then take the info you have in ONCARD and import it into our chapter directory.

Stay warm, play well, and hope to see many of you on January 5.

Andrea Handley, Dean

December 2017
Fishell Concert a Perfect Tribute to Richard Enright

On Friday evening, November 10, the North Shore Chapter continued celebrating its 60th anniversary season with a recital honoring the life of one of its founding members, Richard Gordon Enright (1923-2016), who was also Professor Emeritus of Church Music and Organ, at Northwestern University.   The venue was Northwestern’s Alice Millar Chapel, home of Aeolian-Skinner Opus 1413 (4 manuals, 74 stops, 100 ranks), where Enright taught for 35 years. The organ was installed in 1964 when Enright had already been serving on Northwestern’s Organ Faculty for 15 years; he later served as chair of the department from 1969 to 1989.

Longtime North Shore member Morgan Simmons opened the evening’s program with anecdotes from his 54 years of friendship with the Enright family, comparing Dr. Enright to Old Faithful, El Capitan, and the Rock of Gibralter! Simmons also introduced Enright family members who were in attendance, and then the evening’s recitalist, Janette Fishell.

One of Enright’s most distinguished students, Janette Fishell completed doctoral studies at Northwestern in the 1980’s as a student of both Enright and Wolfgang Rübsam. Following graduation, she headed the Organ Performance and Sacred Music degree programs at East Carolina University from 1989 to 2008, and then became Professor of Music and Chair of the Organ Department at Indiana University. Her former students have won numerous competitions and serve in churches and on university faculties throughout the US and Asia. In addition to teaching, Dr. Fishell has, for over three decades, traveled the world, giving critically acclaimed recitals on significant organs in the US, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Members of the Enright family with recitalist Janette Fishell

To honor her former professor, Fishell chose unique repertoire, juxtaposing (1) music tied to World Wars I and II, reflecting Richard Enright’s life as a veteran and part of the “greatest generation” and (2) works associated by Fishell with her studies at Northwestern under Dr. Enright.

Dr. Fishell titled her program “Requiescat in Pace” and opened with Leo Sowerby’s work of the same name, which was composed in 1920 to honor soldiers killed in World War I. It began quietly, using colorful solo flutes and reeds (and also – in place of organ chimes, which do not exist on Millar’s organ – mysterious bell-like sounds that we later learned were played by North Shore Dean Andrea Handley on handbells!). A masterfully registered crescendo and then descrescendo outlined the arc of this work.

Three Bach works followed, including a trio setting of Allein Gott in der Höh sei Ehr (BWV 664) that Fishell played for her audition at Northwestern and the Prelude and Fugue in E Minor (BWV 548) which Fishell played for one of her doctoral recitals. Fishell’s delightfully dance-like and playful interpretation of the trio setting was followed by another much more contemplative setting of the same chorale (BWV 662), played with charmingly limpid ornamentation and Baroque-appropriate rhythmic flexibility. The E-minor Prelude and its “Wedge” Fugue showed off Fishell’s virtuosity and masterful technique.

Following intermission, Fishell presented two works associated with French composer Jehan Alain, who died at the age of 29, fighting heroically in World War II. As stated in the recital program, these works were presented “as tribute to the bravery of the young Enright, who served in Patton’s Third Army of the 26th Infantry Division in the European theatre from 1943 to 1946.” Alain’s Postlude pour l’Office de Complies is a quiet work and, in this recital, began the second part of the program quietly like the first part, with serenely stretched phrasing of the Gregorian chant melody. Maurice Duruflé’s Prelude et Fugue sur le nom d’ALAIN followed, providing another opportunity to witness Fishell’s masterful registration and dazzling virtuosity.

The rest of the recital featured music by Czech composer Petr Eben, the subject of Fishell’s doctoral dissertation (she is considered a leading authority on Eben’s organ music). Fishell chose Eben’s Song of Ruth (based on the biblical story of Ruth) to honor Enright and his wife Sandy who were married for 67 years (Mrs. Enright was also a musician, a talented soprano and organist). Beautifully sung by Hannah Dixon McConnell, this composition featured piquant harmonies and frequent duets between organ solo stops and the voice.

Appreciate audience gives standing ovation for Fishell’s performance

The final Eben featured the third and fourth movements from Nedělní Hudba (“Sunday Music”). Depicting the story of Christ’s encounter with a possessed man (see the fifth chapter of Mark in the Bible), the third movement Moto Ostinato is one of Eben’s most frequently performed pieces. It features devilishly (!) dissonant repetition and varying registration – Fishell commented that she liked the way this work demonstrates the variety of sound available on Millar’s organ. The fourth movement Finale, depicting the battle between Good and Evil, reflected the composer’s firsthand experience as a prisoner in Hitler’s Buchenwald. Fishell’s performance communicated brilliantly what she wrote in the program notes: “The trumpet summons all to battle; a sacred Kyrie struggles against twisting chromatic ‘cat calls.’ Ultimately, the Salve Regina resplendently proclaimed on full organ, leaves no doubt for the listener that the Good has triumphed.” It was a perfect way to show off yet again Fishell’s dexterity (e.g. trill upon trill on both pedals and manuals) and assured mastery of the resources available on the Millar organ, including its Festival Trumpet.

Evan Duvall, Margaret Kemper, Janette Fishell, Andrea Handley, Hannah Dixon McConnell

For an encore, Fishell related that she asked Morgan Simmons if Dr. Enright had a “party piece” – and Simmons said it was Jacques-Nicolas Lemmens’ Fanfare … Fishell’s interpretation was the perfect segue to a festive reception that was (as Morgan Simmons described it) a “feast for the eyes and palate.” Thank you to North Shore board members, Judy Kohl, who created the “feast” with an abundance of bundt cakes (many flavors!), drinks and other goodies. Gratitude must also be expressed to board member Evan DuVall who organized so much behind the scenes for this event and prepared the beautifully informative printed program.

Janette Fishell was a classmate of mine at Northwestern, and I’ve long admired the talent and depth of understanding she brings to organ performance – her splendid technique and unerring ear for registration always serve the music she presents. I can’t think of anyone else from my student years who could have created a recital so uniquely fit and so well performed in honor of Dr. Enright and his years at Northwestern University as well as his place in the history of the North Shore Chapter.

Fishell with Will Schlueter

Following the recital Friday night, Prof. Fishell returned to Millar Chapel on Saturday to teach a performance masterclass for 5 area students. Participants included: Adam Chlebek, student of Richard Hoskins, playing Dupré’s Cortège et Litanie, Op. 19, No. 2; Nick Curry, student of James Brown at the Music Institute of Chicago, playing Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in c, BWV 549; Daehee Kim, student of Beth Naegele at Moody Bible Institute, playing Bach’s Toccata in d, BWV 565; Will Schlueter, student of Edward Zimmerman at Wheaton College, playing Dupré’s Variations sur un Noël, Op. 20; and Bill Wilson, student of James Brown at the Music Institute of Chicago, playing Vierne’s ‘Prelude,’ from Twenty-four Pieces in Free Style, Op. 31. Some 30 chapter members, students’ family members, and teachers crowded into the chapel’s choir loft for the 2.5-hour masterclass. Professor Fishell masterfully balanced musical insight, technical expertise, and rigor with approachability and wry humor. Her teaching effortlessly matched the caliber of Friday’s performance and was every bit as much a pedagogical model for the teachers in the room as it was instructional for the students.

Beth Naegele

Elizabeth Naegele, board member

December 2017
I Never Dreamed….

Kay Sutton

My first experience hearing a pipe organ live happened when I attended the graduation of the Medical School at the University of Michigan as a child.  We were in Hill Auditorium when all the newly minted medical doctors, including a family friend,  stood up for the recessional.  At that moment, Marilyn Mason launched into the Toccata from Widor’s Fifth Symphony.  My sisters and I were totally overwhelmed.  Although my mother was a church organist, I never thought I would play a pipe organ or play that Toccata.  It seemed like a complete fantasy.

But then, much later in life I became an organist the way I believe many do.  The church I attended in Grayslake, IL decided to add a service and, since I was accompanying choirs and soloists regularly on the piano, I was asked to play the organ for this service.  After a few weeks of being clueless about pedaling and registration, I found a teacher.  Dr.  Marilyn Stulken, of Racine, WI and former Dean of the Kenosha-Racine Chapter of AGO, taught me all the basics and then decided I should work for my Service Playing Certificate. So the initial impetus for joining AGO was to achieve a higher and certifiable standard of playing, which I was able to achieve.  Then, she helped me find a job playing a pipe organ.   So now, many years later, I am still playing the 55 rank E.M. Skinner at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church that Ernest himself installed in Kenosha, WI during the 20’s, an organ that was completely refurbished by Marilyn’s husband, Tom Rench and Co. in 2003.  I also, on occasion, play that famous Toccata.

I have taken advantage of as many AGO activities as I can.  When Chicago hosted the National Convention, I helped at registration and monitored the ballroom.  Afterwards, the convention workers had a wonderful recital and party at the San Filippo Estate.  I also attended the Boston Convention where I attended a lecture on the history of the Skinner organ.  The week following the convention, the presenters of this lecture surprised me by coming to Wisconsin and visiting St. Matthew’s to see our Opus 505.  I also attended a Regional Convention in Kalamazoo that was very inspirational.  I plan to help Milwaukee with their regional convention in 2019.  A year or two ago I played on their Members Recital at St. Joseph’s Convent Church in Milwaukee.

On the local level, I have really enjoyed what the North Shore Chapter has to offer.  Last fall’s hymn workshop was just outstanding.  This year’s recital and masterclass by Janette Fishell was also wonderful.  And of course, I have loved the Epiphany parties!  My plan for the future is to have a POE event at St. Matthew’s church.  We have a number of people, including some from Carthage College who are interested in pursuing this.

As a resident of Illinois and an employee in Wisconsin, I have found it beneficial to belong to the North Shore, the Milwaukee, and often the Chicago chapters of AGO.  I have made great friends in all these organizations.  A few years ago we held a Halloween concert at St. Matthew’s and friends from the Milwaukee and North Shore chapters performed.  We packed the church and a good time was had by all.

Kay Sutton

December 2017
Treasurer’s Corner

Our income from membership dues during November was $74.  Thank you to William Jones and John Ligda for choosing our North Shore Chapter.

During November I wrote checks for a little over $8,000.  At our meeting in November, the Board decided to contribute $1,000 to the Enright Scholarship fund.  The remaining checks were for expenses tied to the Janette Fishell concert earlier this month.  There is one remaining bill from that event that I am waiting to receive.

I moved $8,000 from our non-scholarship savings account into the checking account.  So the balances in our 3 accounts are:

Checking account balance less outstanding checks     $2,631.44
Scholarship (saving account)         $5,316.71
General saving account              $24,017.97
Total         $31,966.12

Laurie Stivers headshot

Laurie Stivers

Laurie Stivers, Treasurer

November 2017
Thoughts on History

NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley
NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley

Andrea Handley

After the wonderful opening program of our 60th anniversary season in September, I went home thinking about the role of ‘history’ in our lives. As I looked around the room that day, I saw people who have just recently become part of my life. But I also saw those who have been part of my life for over 40 years. And it’s nice to know people who have been a part of your life for that long. It’s grounding and represents stability in a world that is anything but stable.

Friends appear and disappear, family members move away, church jobs and acquaintances from those churches come and go. But the friends and colleagues that you make through AGO become lifelong connections. In addition to coming together to enjoy our great instrument with each other, or share ideas and learn new things, AGO programs are a great time to re-establish connections with lifelong friends and colleagues. When you think about it, that’s a rare and precious thing in most of our lives.

Andrea Handley, Dean


November 2017
Open Sea Reflections

Judy Kohl

I recently celebrated a birthday – not one of those that slips by and you hope no one notices. With this one, I am standing on the cusp of a new decade and for some reason, those decade birthdays have been very significant in my life. I’ve thought back to how my life literally seemed to make a paradigm shift with each new decade.

The day I turned fifty, I woke up empowered in a way I had never sensed before. My life felt rich and complete – any future experiences were a bonus. I chose to leave my full time church position, which seemed strange as I had been an organist since age 16.  Yet, it was a new beginning and I sensed fresh energy and creativity as I now had the time  to compose music of my own.
Now that I just turned sixty, I wonder what  this next decade will look like. Those high values of empowerment and strength don’t seem to be as important as before.  I sense something more gentle and gracious – and yes, much more comfortable. This is renewing for my spirit. There is an ease even as I approach this busy holiday season as who I am is not validated by what I do or even how well I do it. I will use the gifts I’ve been given by God and continue to welcome any opportunity to use them.
If it sounds as if I plan to simply sail into the sunset, then I’ve painted the wrong picture. A friend of mine challenged me to embrace life not as many people do after a certain number of birthdays; trying to maneuver their boat into the harbor safely with as few dings as possible. Rather, I plan on exploring the open seas, indefinitely.
This decade will most likely look different. Meanwhile, I have plans to become a better musician, learn as much about this wonderful life as possible, give back to  those less fortunate in my community and around the world, and deepen those friendships I hold so dear. I’m glad that becoming more involved with North Shore AGO will make that more likely with each one of you.
Judy Gration Kohl, Board member

November 2017
Treasurer’s Corner

October had a flurry of financial activity! Thanks to the Linne Does, Jay Peterson, Judith Donovan, Kirsten Rutschman Santos, Julianne Sundin, and Phillip Kloeckner for their renewals. Many thanks to Linne, Jay, and Philip for their contributions to our Chapter.  And thanks for Linne for her contribution to the Scholarship fund.

I’ve paid $844 for expenses tied to our September event and have paid $946 towards expenses for our November event.

Current balances in our accounts are:

General Checking    $4,058.56
Scholarship Fund     $5,316.57
General Savings    $32,016.58
Total                        $41,411.71

Laurie Stivers headshot

Laurie Stivers

Laurie Stivers, Treasurer

October 2017
Two Successes as we Begin our 60th Season

NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley
NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley

Andrea Handley

Our 60th anniversary season is off to a wonderful start. First, we had an inspiring worship service at First United Methodist Church of Evanston this past Sunday evening, which you will read more about as you scroll down. It was filled with evidence of our heritage as a chapter. Don’t miss the next event – a recital by Janette Fishell on Friday, November 10 with master class on Saturday morning at Alice Millar chapel. The program is a tribute to Richard Enright, long-time and beloved member of our chapter who passed away last winter.

Second, even in the down-time of the summer months, our chapter was busy with a mission – the fulfillment of then NSAGO Scholarship Initiative program we began in the spring of last year. I’ve included Sharon Peterson’s report on the success of this program for you to read below:

NSAGO Scholarship Initiative Report

As announced, members Steve Folkers, Sharon Peterson, & Bob Woodworth, the Sub-committee for the NSAGO 2017 Scholarship Initiative, implemented the offering of three free organ lessons and one year’s membership in our chapter. (This was the chapter’s response to the program Isabelle Demers put forth during the Spring, ’17 -a national AGO initiative from the Committee on the New Organist.)

Six NSAGO members have completed their lessons over the summer with seven students:
Teachers                             Students
Steven Folkers                  John Ford, Jr. & Cameron Obrecht
Bob Woodworth               Xander Ambrose
Andrea Handley              Dominic German
Susan Klotzbach              Vivian Zhao
Sharon Peterson              Kristina Nyberg
Lee Nelson                        Bob Diss

We are grateful to these dedicated chapter members who freely offered their expertise to encourage and equip future organists. In fact, this endeavor has been so successful the Sub-committee recommends repeating this program in the future. This has proved to be an excellent use of Scholarship funds donated to the Chapter.

The complimentary membership in the NSAGO will provide these students with TAO, beginning in August, 2017, and link them to the many opportunities and contacts the chapter offers. Look for these students at NSAGO events this coming season, and welcome them into our ranks. As a committee we feel this is a practical, enjoyable course to take to ensure the vibrant future of the AGO. Thank you, to all involved.

Sharon Peterson

Sharon R. Peterson


Sharon R. Peterson Sub-Dean, NSAGO