April 2018
Come to our Final 60th Celebration program! And vote!

NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley
NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley

Andrea Handley

First things first: Our final 60th anniversary celebration event is coming up soon!  On Sunday, April 29, we’ll gather at 4pm at First Presbyterian Church of Evanston for a dean’s recital. This recital will not only celebrate the 60th anniversary of our chapter, but the 60th anniversary of the organ at First Presbyterian (an Aeolian-Skinner) and the 150th anniversary of the church!  Following the recital, we will walk a short 2 blocks (there will be a car available if you prefer) to the Crystal Ballroom for a celebration banquet. In the program that follows, we will highlight our 60 years together in spoken word and in pictures – you may see yourself on screen in one of the archival pictures we will present in a slide presentation! We will honor long time members and officers, say goodbye to outgoing board and officers and welcome new ones. You will also be the first to see the roll out of our 61st season of programming! If you haven’t already made your reservations for this memorable event, please do so at the link below. (Note that the deadline for RSVPs has been extended to April 20!)  

Click here to register for the banquet

Once you’ve RSVP’d for yourself (and hopefully family members as well!), please think of an organist you may know who is NOT a member of our chapter, and consider inviting them to be your guest at this banquet. It’s a wonderful way to introduce new people to the chapter. If you would like to do that but the price is too steep to bring a guest, know that there are funds available to cover up to 15 guests, donated anonymously by a member. If you have a guest who has agreed to come, and you want to take advantage of those funds, just email dean@nullnorthshoreago.org so that I can keep track of numbers. I will then forward your guest’s name to the member who has graciously offered these funds, and they will RSVP for your guest with the appropriate credit card.

Secondly, it’s election time again! Below is the slate of new officers and board members that the nominating committee has brought to the board. Read bios below and vote by clicking here by April 20.

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 Master 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 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.

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.  He is organist at The Presbyterian Church of Barrington where he has played since 2007, and is a dual member of the Fox Valley and North Shore AGO chapters. Prior to 2007, he held organist and organist/director positions at churches in Chicago and the northwest suburbs, as well as substituting at over 30 churches in the Chicagoland area. He recently retired from a full-time IT career, and is enjoying his newly-found freedom. Richard has a son and daughter, both of whom live and work in Chicago. 

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.

Board members fulfilling terms:


Pat Radosavljevic

Pat Radosavljevic

PAT RADOSAVLJEVIC knew that church music was for her when she was willing to get up at dawn to play for 6:00 A.M. Mass while in 5th grade.  She has been playing every week since.  She received a Bachelor’s in Organ/Church Music from the American Conservatory of Music as a student of Dr. Robert Lodine.  During her time at American she met George Radosavljevic who helped her through modal counterpoint.  They have been married for 36 years, and have a son, Leo, who received his Bachelor’s and Master’s from Juilliard in Opera.   Pat has been organist/choir director at Carter-Westminster Presbyterian Church in Skokie since 1982. This is the same church that once employed Elizabeth Naegele and Andrea Handley, and she feels honored to follow in their footsteps. In addition to musical life, Pat has worked in ophthalmology since 1984, and is currently assisting Frank LaFranco, M.D., a retinal specialist in Skokie.

Two years:

Sharon Peterson

Sharon R. Peterson

Pianist for the Chicago Symphony Chorus since auditioning as a college student in 1978, SHARON 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.

Jill Hunt

JILL HUNT has been a part of the music ministry staff at First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest since 1995.  She is currently Organist/Director of Handbells and will be retiring at the end of the summer.  Jill grew up in Oklahoma and earned degrees in piano and organ performance from Oklahoma City University. She holds a Master’s degree in organ performance from Northwestern University, studying organ with Karel Paukert and Dr. Richard Enright.  She is a past Dean of the North Shore Chapter of the American Guild of Organist and currently serves as Secretory.  Jill has two sons, Bryan (Rebecca) of Vail, Colorado, and Jason (Beth) of Evanston, Illinois, and three grandchildren, Levi, Katherine, and Stevie.

Three-year board terms:

Eileen Baumgarten

EILEEN BAUMGARTEN is a resident of Northfield, Illinois, and currently is a member of Winnetka Congregational Church where she serves on the Music Committee and sings in the choir.  She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Organ from the University of Oklahoma where she studied with Mildred Andrews.  Eileen moved to Chicago in the 70’s, is married to Randy Baumgarten, and has 2 sons, a daughter-in-law, and 2 grandchildren.  She recently held the position of organist for St. Peter Community Church in Northfield until their merger with Northfield Community Church.  She is currently subbing at various churches and playing frequently at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Palatine.  Eileen has served on the board of the North Shore AGO previously and looks forward to doing it again.

Rich Spantikow

RICH SPANTIKOW is the Minister of Music at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Glenview.  There he directs the Parish, Jr., and Handbell choirs, selects all the music for worship, and plays the Buzard Opus 27.  His 30-year plus career as a church musician has allowed him to serve congregations from Streamwood, Elgin, Evanston, West Dundee, Western Springs and Arlington Heights. Rich was previously a member of and served on the board of the Northwest Suburban Chapter of the AGO until they merged with the Fox Valley Chapter.  He was also on the workshop committee for the 2006 Chicago AGO National Convention. When Rich isn’t busy doing church things, he enjoys spending time with his rescue dog, fitness activities, reading, and cooking.

Brian Schoettler

BRIAN SCHOETTLER serves as Minister of Music & Organist at First United Methodist Church in Evanston, Illinois where he directs their Chancel, Handbell, Gospel, and Children’s Choirs and plays their recently restored Austin organs (IV/80, II/15). He earned his Master of Music degree in Organ Performance and Composition from Westminster Choir College and his bachelor’s degree in Organ Performance, Church Music, and Instrumental Music Education from Carthage College. He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Eastman School of Music where he studies organ with David Higgs.  For more information, visit: www.brianschoettler.com



April 2018
I was there!!!

Robert Neuenschwander
Robert Neuenschwander

Robert Neuenschwander

But I was there!!!  I mean I was really, REALLY there when that Skinner was installed!.  I was an eighteen year old kid (it’s ok if you do the numbers; I’m too old to care) from the neighborhoods of Chicago with nothing special but a love of playing the organ.  I would comb through the WFMT fine arts guide (printed then; every thing was in print in those days) looking for organ programs to go to.  One afternoon in 1958 there was to be an organ recital at the First Presbyterian Church of Evanston.  As a bonus, it was going to be on a brand new organ.  I borrowed the family car and drove up here.

The recitalist had an interesting program that showed off the organ, and she played with a good charisma. I was disappointed with the acoustic, but it was after all, a Presbyterian Church.  All I could think during that recital was “Wow, would I ever like to get my hands on that instrument!”  Now the North Shore Chapter has kindly invited me to play on 4/29/18. But I have to say, a 60 year wait is a bit of an excessive in any one’s book.

The North Shore and Evanston were indeed a Mecca (excuse me for mixing religions) for Church Music.  Richard Enright was there at 1st Pres, Jack Goode was across the street at 1st Baptist,  Austin Lovelace was up the street the other way at 1st Methodist. Thomas Matthews was on the south side at St. Luke’s Episcopal. This eighteen year old kid thought he had driven to heaven…via the family Oldsmobile.

I have to say the concert was well done, if not exceptional, except for one thing.  When the recitalist was finished she left the organ by walking off on the pedals.  She had neglected to again push the tutti button and the general cancel button seemed beyond her reach.  But she got double the applause she might have gotten had she not performed this little “coda a la piede.”  Richard Enright was not amused.  I thought, “this Is really cool, she knows how to work an audience.  So this is how it is done on the North Shore!”  But what did I know, I was eighteen years old.

Now, one of the great things about being a senior is that you sort of get to do what you want. So I’m going to tell you who this artist was, but you have to work at it.  Start by playing “Happy Birthday to You” in the key of B flat major.  Be sure you notice the letter name of each melody note (ignore the octaves.)  You will wind up with two letter name notes that are the same, this particular letter occurs twice and only twice.  The 1958 organist’s first and last initials are this letter.  Happy hunting, and see you on April 29, First Presbyterian Evanston, 4:00 PM.

With all my love to the colleagues,

Robert Neuenschwander


April 2018
Treasurer’s Corner

Welcome to Eastertide!   I hope you have had a chance to rest from the musical frenzy of the past week.

Our checking account had income of $1,220 during March.  I moved $1,000 from saving into the checking as the balance was reaching the threshold where we need to pay a service fee.   The remaining amount came from National for membership dues and donations.  I’m delighted to report that Hyeyoun Jung, Daniel Segner, and Bill Aylesworth will be joining us for the next year.  And we thank Bill for his contribution to the chapter.

Our expenses for March were $168.19 for program expenses.  That leaves us with the following balances:

Checking                       $2,850.26

Scholarship Fund         $5,317.36

Savings Account        $23,021.58

Total                             $31,189.20

Laurie Stivers headshot

Laurie Stivers

Laurie Stivers, treasurer

March 2018
The Celebration Continues!

NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley
NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley

Andrea Handley

Since last September we have been celebrating our 60th anniversary as a chapter. We honored our past through a worship service to begin our season, where we featured music written by members of our chapter, and heard some delightful tidbits of historical information. Next we welcomed Janette Fishell to play a recital at Millar Chapel, which honored one of our founding members, Richard Enright. At our annual Epiphany party, we played a trivia game based on the history of our chapter. Just this past weekend, we had a lively ‘fireplace chat’ with a panel of experts in organ design, organ education, and church music, who discussed the last 60 years of our instrument.

And at the end of April, we will hold our final and most special celebration of all. On April 29, we will gather at First Presbyterian Church of Evanston – the site of our first chapter program in 1958 – for a dean’s recital. Seven NSAGO deans will play on the 64-rank Aeolian-Skinner organ, which also happens to be 60 years old this year!  We will follow that with a gala banquet at the Crystal Ballroom, just a block or so north of the church, which will include a powerpoint presentation of highlights from our history, honoring our long-time members, and welcoming new officers and board members. Reservations can be made by clicking here.

Please join us for this most special occasion!

Andrea Handley, Dean

March 2018
The Organ Then and Now – A Lively Discussion of the Past, Present and Future

Panel members being introduced by moderator Sharon Peterson

A delightful wine and cheese reception opened the special evening of presentations by panelists: Jeff Weiler, President of JL Weiler, Inc. a firm specializing in historically -informed pipe organ restoration, Chicago, IL; Margaret McElwain Kemper, Adjunct Associate Professor of Organ at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL; and Derek Nickels, Director of Music at the host church, Church of the Holy Comforter (Episcopal), Kenilworth, IL. Each presenter gave background information, observations, and some predictions of his/her field of expertise: organ restoration; organ teaching; and church musician (organist/choir director.)

Following the presentations audience questions and comments were taken, moderated by Sub-Dean Sharon R. Peterson, allowing for more detail from the panelists. Jeff Weiler clarified the difference between an Organ Restorer and an Organ Builder. He also discussed the effect of the Organ Reform Movement on organs, audiences, and organists in the USA. He is hopeful that though the fields of both organ restoration and building have shrunk, those professionals who remain are highly skilled and excellent in their techniques. Upcoming young Organists are an inspiration – as is the return to a desire for increasing Liturgy, seen in some churches. Jeff also stressed the positive change that diverse organs are now respected for their unique qualities and place in music history and repertoire.

Maggie Kemper shared her experiences as an organ student and as a Teacher of the organ. She recommended publications by Richard Enright, Sandra Soderlund, John Brock/Wayne Leupold, and George Ritchie/George Stauffer for further information. She noted the legato touch of the 1960’s is no longer over-used, resulting in a wider variety of articulation. (Her own teacher, Marie-Claire Alain, once demonstrated 12 articulations for her, ranging from staccato to legato.) Several basics for good teaching were listed and explained:  Organ shoes; Proper hand position; Playing musically – even in exercises; Achieving expression through rhythm and touch; Giving positive criticism/instruction; Setting a good example; and Nurturing the musician-person who is being taught. She remains committed to and inspired by teaching.

Host Derek Nichels explained the evolution of the job of Church Musician as he has experienced it. Playing a Hammond B in his first organ job, he now has duties which range from Pastoral Care to finalizing the Bulletin content. He emphasized good listening skills are necessary for the Church Musician to patiently meld his/her musical expertise with the needs of the congregation. Since the musical life of a congregation is at its core, the mission of the church, recruiting of members to participate, and encouraging donors all play a part in a healthy church. Adaptability is key.

Sharon Peterson, Maggie Kemper, Derek Nickels, Jeff Weiler, Andrea Handley

We came away with a sense of appreciation for the history of the organ, concrete ideas of how to improve our playing, some wisdom for advising our congregations on their instruments, and the inspiration to continue creative musical problem-solving in this evolving world of Organists. As we celebrate 60 years, (April 29,) of the North Shore AGO chapter, why not look for ways to more actively invest personally in valuable events such as this? Put the season’s dates on your calendar, plan to attend, and invite a friend whose life will be enriched by this marvelous chapter.

Sharon R. Peterson, Sub-dean

March 2018
No Sound More Beautiful

Alan Hommerding

“There is no sound more beautiful than people singing God’s praise.”

These words, instilled in me by my first organ teacher and choir director, Ann Celeen Dohms, have become a life-long mantra.

Before I sang in her boys’ choir or was her organ student, I was fascinated with that imposing (to a small boy) stand of pipes up in the loft of St. Mary of the Assumption church in Port Washington, Wisconsin. I was thrilled by its sound, and enthralled by the mystery imparted by its distance.

My fascination only increased when I began to serve at Mass, and no longer had to discreetly turn around during Sunday Mass, risking a tug on my ear by one of my parents. In fourth grade, I learned that we were to get a new music teacher (Sr. Juliette having retired), and she wanted to start a boys’ choir! At last I’d have legitimate access to the loft and that mysterious contraption. Though I was not graced with the greatest of vocal abilities, I clearly had a talent for music, which even the aged and sometimes cranky Sr. Juliette had acknowledged.

I tried as best I could to figure out what all the different tabs did, and the extra keyboard, and the foot-pedals (my mother, who had played in her parish church as a teenager, called them that). There were many books in the loft with the words “Flor Peeters” on the cover. I was sure they contained music you played with the foot-pedals, but in German.
On the home front, my older sister begged and begged for an electronic home organ, which were the rage in the mid-1960s. Eventually a Thomas Color-Glo organ appeared in the living room. Since we were a truly poor family, only she had lessons. I was given a cousin’s old clarinet, and I played in the band in grade school and high school. (Eventually I’d enter college as a clarinet performance major.)

Being a typical little brother with a deep interest in music, I began to mimic whatever my sister was learning in organ lessons. In junior high, I took over her job as chapel organist for the little Catholic hospital in town. Eventually Miss Dohms got wind of this and asked to hear me play. She agreed to give me lessons for free if I’d play for the first Sunday Mass. (Later, when she and I had moved from teacher/student to being colleagues and friends, I came to learn of her dislike of early rising.) My Sunday routine throughout high school was 6 a.m. Mass at St. Alphonsus and 7:30 a.m. Mass at St. Mary’s. In addition, I played M-F 6 a.m. Masses in the chapel. In music school at UW-Milwaukee, I switched my major from clarinet performance to theory/composition, with organ as my main instrument. I also joined our student chapter of AGO, and eventually was the chapter dean. This began my unbroken, life-long membership in the guild.

After graduation, I was hired as choir organist at St. John’s cathedral in Milwaukee. Like many Roman Catholic men of my generation, I thought having a vocation meant pursuing ordination. So I went to seminary in Baltimore. Though I completed the graduate studies in theology, the seminary and I both discerned that music was my true vocation. I spent some additional time in Baltimore, taught high school religion, studied in Westminster’s summer programs, and more organ work at the Peabody Conservatory. Eventually I ended up back in the Midwest, where I began to study privately with Craig Cramer at Notre Dame, and where I soon went for graduate study in music and additional graduate work in liturgy.

Though I went on to minister in a Roman Catholic parish in Milwaukee, I saw an ad less than a year later for an opening at World Library Publications. Twenty-seven years later, I am still at WLP as Senior Liturgy Publications Editor. I was first hired in sales and promotions – a terrible place for a bookish hyper-introvert. The editorship of WLP’s AIM: Liturgy Resources magazine came open, and twenty-five years later I am still at its helm, as well as the WLP Organ Library. I’ve been able to put my musical, theological, and liturgical background to good use as an editor, author, composer, speaker, and workshop presenter. My greatest delight, however, was being part of publishing some of Ann Celeen’s music from my boyhood.

“And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on … and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be, and through eternity, I’ll sing on.”

To the end, my musical “Auntie Mame” is how I referred to Ann Celeen. In 2010, I was the organist for her funeral Mass. At the end of the Mass were her favorite stanza from “What Wondrous Love Is This?” and the first prelude from the Orgelbüchlein she taught me: Alle Menschen Müssen Sterben (All Mortals Must Die), with her handwriting still on the page. Through this life, through my work at WLP and as music director at Edgebrook Community Church, and through eternity, I’ll sing on, making music for the glory of God.

Alan Hommerding

March 2018
Treasurer’s Corner

Fellow Members,

Welcome to March!

We thank Brigid Cantagallo, Thomas Alm, Robert Ward, and Michael Gange for their membership to our North Shore Chapter. We added $156 to our checking account.

I’ve paid expenses of $300 for our March 4th event and $94 to National for Chapter expenses.

Our checking account balance is $1,798.45. Currently the Scholarship Fund is $5,317.23 and our Savings account is $24,020.46. Our total cash assets are $31,136.69.

Thank you!

Laurie Stivers headshot

Laurie Stivers

Laurie Stivers, Treasurer

February 2018
New and Improved Chapter Directory!

NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley
NSAGO Dean Andrea Handley

Andrea Handley

Finally, we have posted the long-awaited and hot-off-the-press updated chapter directory!  Find it from the home page of our website by clicking on the About Us tab.  Please note that we have streamlined this process now and will be updating the directory regularly by using the detailed information that you each provide through Oncard when you join or renew your membership. So please take a moment to take a look at your details in the updated chapter directory now – and if there is anything missing or incorrect (not only basic personal information, but where you work, professional credentials, titles, etc), please go to Oncard on the national site (agohq.org) and make those corrections there. That information will then be used in our next update of the chapter directory.

While we are well into 2018 now and the memory of Christmas is dim, I’ve just recently read an article that was in the Evanston Round Table in December, called “Christmas Sing at Raymond Park Led for Years by NU’s Dean Lutkin”. It is full of fascinating historical details of what sounds like a wonderful event that happened every December for 15 years, from 1915 to 1930. Churches in Evanston collaborated with NU and Dean Lutkin by gathering in Raymond Park (called ‘the park between the churches’ back then) to sing Christmas carols with the help of the NU a cappella choir and brass players playing from high in the bell tower at First Presbyterian Church. As we’re focusing on the history of our chapter this season, it’s fun to look even further back and see the rich heritage of church music that has existed on the north shore for over a century. Below is a scan of the article that someone sent to me below for your perusal. Enjoy!

Andrea Handley, Dean

February 2018
A Circuitous Journey

Phillip Kloeckner

My life as a musician, organist, conductor, and harpsichordist has been much more enjoyable and rich than I could have ever imagined when I set my sights on this path in earnest, some thirty years ago.  Above all else, I value the opportunity to immerse myself in beautiful, interesting, and complex music of all genres on a daily basis, and to meet and work with wonderful, inspiring, and brilliantly creative people.  So, I feel particularly fortunate to have the opportunities I have been given to create a life centered in the musical arts.

Having started playing other people’s music and improvising my own at the piano at age six, it is a small wonder that my life is configured as it currently is.  Taking my first organist/choir director position at age thirteen, and making a detour through an undergraduate biology degree at Swarthmore College, followed by work in a plant physiology laboratory, a jaunt to the south Pacific to study bird migration, and biomedical research at the Wistar Institute at the University of Pennsylvania (all the while studying organ, piano, music theory, harpsichord, and conducting), I set myself firmly on the path of preparing myself as a professional musician by enrolling in the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.  With my second undergraduate degree in hand, I headed south to Houston, where I was among the first wave of organ students to earn masters and doctoral degrees in organ at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.  One of my first jobs in Houston was playing a beautiful little Kilgen organ for three or four funerals a week at a large funeral home where this Yankee was quickly indoctrinated into the culture of Southern hymns and cultural songs, including “Cool, Cool Water” and “Oh, My Papa!”  I quickly learned the fundamental importance of singing as part of rituals in these contexts.  After a lifetime of learning to read and speak German and French, wouldn’t you know that my doctoral thesis required the acquisition of some Spanish, as I headed to Perú to study nineteenth-century organs in that country.

While pursuing my graduate degrees, I was tapped to teach undergraduate music theory, aural skills, secondary organ lessons, figured bass, continuo, church music, and hymn playing.  A theory/composition mentor invited me to co-author an aural skills textbook, Functional Hearing, with him.  After graduation, I was asked to join the full-time faculty at the Shepherd School as an assistant to my organ mentor there, Clyde Holloway, continuing to teach the many subjects I had been teaching as a graduate student.  During this time, the stunning new building for the Shepherd School, designed by Ricardo Bofil and Larry Kirkegaard, opened, and I found myself at the center of the creation, installation, and inauguration of the Fisk-Rosales organ at the school.  Throughout this period, I was enjoying my first performing tours of Europe and really appreciated the opportunity to get to know many of the historic organs of Germany and France, and how the music I had played for my entire life came alive like never before on these unique instruments.  In addition to church choirs, I began to conduct the United Nations Association International Choir in Houston and further expanded my awareness of global cultures and musical traditions.  I began to incorporate many of these strains into my improvisations at the organ.  Through my contact with the international community in Houston, I was able to introduce the organ to many people who had never heard the instrument before.

In 2012, the call to move on to yet new opportunities and challenges, and to move closer to my family in Vermont, came in the form of a position on the faculty of the University of Chicago, teaching musicianship in the Department of Music, and in 2013, the invitation to establish a formal organ teaching studio at Rockefeller Chapel.  In 2014, I released my first solo CD, Exotic Variations, recorded on the Rice organ shortly before I came to Chicago.  In 2015 and 2016, I served on the board of the Chicago AGO.  In late 2016, I became organist at First Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple where I am now fully engaged in the process of restoring the church’s 94-year-old organ, E. M. Skinner, Op. 414.  And last year, I inaugurated a new organ teaching studio at First Methodist, Chicago International Organ Academy, which offers students of all skill levels several options for studying organ remotely.  Highlights of my time in Chicago have been to join colleagues of the NSAGO in presenting a creative members’ recital last June at St. Giles in Northbrook, a turn at the charming Dobson organ at Elliott Chapel, and playing organ with the Evanston Symphony in, among other works, Mahler’s 2nd Symphony.

I have found a wonderful community of organists and fellow musicians in the greater Chicago area, which, after five years, I feel I am just beginning to know and appreciate fully.

Phillip Kloeckner