July 2017
Thank you North Shore Chapter!

Adrienne Tindall

I have a wonderful family, which has filled my life with much joy: husband Jack, daughters Jackie, Jenny, Julie, Jill, ten grandchildren, and now four great grandsons. Music has been a wonderful added enrichment, and as I write this I am realizing how significant a part the AGO, especially the North Shore Chapter, has played.

I joined the Chapter in May of 1958 (our founding year!). It must have been the next fall when the Board had an open meeting which I visited. I remember that Dean Tom Matthews** said they needed a Publicity Chairman…. No one spoke. I asked what was involved. He described it and asked…. and I said well, okay. I think I also served thus when Jack Goode** was Dean.

Austin Lovelace** was on the Board, and I approached him about organ lessons. He said no, and recommended Margaret Budd**.  I remember being able to practice organ at St. Augustine’s; Bill Bottom** set that up. I took lessons from Margaret; each lesson included ten hymns so I could learn my denominational Christian Science Hymnal.

By the middle 1960s I had gotten a three rank (unified) organ for home, put together from old parts by Joey Banahan of Central Organ Service. Friendship with Margaret and Barbara Bennett** was great! We sometimes played Bach trio sonata movements together, me sitting in the middle, playing the pedal part.

Another wonderful AGO friend is Maggie Kemper**, whom I met when she played for a workshop with André Marchal in Lutkin Hall at Northwestern. I was impressed with her superlative playing! Years later she played all four of our daughters’ weddings, plus granddaughter Darcey’s wedding in 2008. Maggie played accompaniments for a CD of 12 of my solos.

When I told Leo Heim, the organist at my church, about a big event, he said he’d heard at school…. What school, I asked. American Conservatory he said. I didn’t know you were down there, I said. “’Down there?’ I’m the Dean!”

I had started organ, from scratch, at Vassar, studying with Donald Pearson (Eastman). And in 1965 I started work on an MM degree at American, finishing in 1969. Grammar school “covered” the daughters then, and I spent Thursday mornings at the Conservatory, taking most courses via tutors. The “L” rides were my main (and only) study halls. Organ lessons were with Bob Lodine**. In the 1970’s I had lessons with Wolfgang Rúbsam** so I could play for Donald Spies’s* wedding on a tracker.

Regular jobs were at three Christian Science churches: Palatine (1965-70), Deerfield (1973-74) and Glenview (1974-2012). Because of the organ at home, we started having Christmas carol parties for neighbors and church friends. Leo, Maggie, Bill Aylewsorth**, Bob Lind**, would help accompany the carols. DARCEY PRESS published Christmas Carols for Friends and Families in 1975.

I had written 2-1/2 solos when my church soloist, Joan Welles, asked (often!) if I had written any more. This led to writing more, and having Jack Goode** critique them as I sat beside him at his piano.

When I learned to create music pages using “Score”, I started planning solos for my volume III, and told Austin if he would write some solos I would publish a book of them. His 15 solos were ready before I could write six…. Austin critiqued solos for me, and supported innumerable DARCEY PRESS projects for almost 50 years…. Many times I requested compositions. (Austin, I need a set of variations on “Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten!”)

“New Songs for New Singers” was a special project. Austin, Bob Powell*, Jack Goode, and I wrote songs for “young” voices. Kathy Heetland** made accompaniment CDs for the two books.

At one AGO program (or Regional?), George Shorney passed out complimentary copies of Ecumenical Praise (published 1977), a book of new hymns AGAPE published, with Austin, Erik Routley, and Alec Wyton as editors. It woke me up to the wonder of hymns themselves! I took Morgan Simmons’s** class on the 1965 Methodist Hymnal, and then Doug Peterson’s** class on The Hymnal 1940. And I went to Erik Routley’s two week class at Garrett that summer, which led to an amazing three year correspondence with Erik (See Encounter with Erik Routley).

DARCEY PRESS’s most recent effort is “In Melody and Songs”, 103 hymns using “lost” texts of Isaac Watts. See Jonathan B. Hall’s review in “the American Organist” (December 2014, pp. 85-86), and David Music’s review in “The Hymn” (Fall 2015, pp. 37-38). Morgan Simmons, a great musical friend, was a phenomenal Consulting Editor for the collection!!!

DARCEY PRESS continues, although the web site needs help, and I should get help with marketing (Watts should be shared effectively!!!). My love of church music is still strong, and I am realizing that this North Shore Chapter, AGO, has been a huge factor.

* = AGO members; ** = North Shore members

Adrienne Tindall

June 2017
Swell Shades and Open Wood

Todd Gresick

As a 9-year-old choirboy, my curiosity was piqued by the movement of the Swell shutters behind the façade pipes of the 1925 Austin organ in the loft at St. Peter Catholic Church in Steubenville, Ohio. How was Mrs. Gilligan controlling that from the console, which looked to me like the cockpit of a jet plane? And what was the deep, ominous sound that caused the floor under my wooden chair to vibrate? Later when I actually had the chance to see all of the pipes and wind chests hidden behind those dummy pipes, I learned that it was low C of the wooden 16’ Open Diapason. That was it – I was hooked! I had to learn more about the instrument and the wonderful music that floated through the reverberant acoustics of the church. When Sister John Berchmans, our choir director, found out that I was taking piano lessons, I was asked to audition for her, and was assigned to play a hymn at the school Mass the following week.

The thrill for me was like nothing I had ever experienced, and I soon began taking “real” organ lessons, eventually driving to Pittsburgh each Saturday to study with Stanley Tagg during my senior year in high school. Mr. Tagg encouraged me to pursue my organ studies in college.  He had recently returned from an organ conference at the University of Michigan, where he heard a recital by Robert Glasgow. He convinced me to audition for Dr. Glasgow, requiring me to prepare my repertoire from memory, something that was new to me.

I was accepted in Dr. Glasgow’s studio and completed the Bachelor and Master of Music degrees with him as my mentor. Not only did his teaching address the most fundamental technical skills of organ playing, but his students were challenged to think about music making by non-organists – singers, conductors, pianists, string and wind players, and so on. His approach to organ playing always had a relationship to physical breathing, or perhaps how a string player might employ bowings in order to articulate a musical passage. He introduced his students to recordings of the finest musical “poets” of his generation – Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Sviatoslav Richter, Alicia de Larrocha, David Oistrakh, Régine Crespin, Walter Gieseking, and many others. In my years as a church musician, I have tried to apply those listening experiences in my work with singers and instrumentalists, and in playing solo organ repertoire.

It has been gratifying as a church musician knowing that the gifts God has given me can touch people in ways words alone cannot express.

Todd Gresick

May 2017
Detours Make Life Interesting

Brigid Cantagallo

As with all of us, the path to where we end up is often winding with many detours along the way. It does make life interesting!

Growing up in rural Minnesota, I was blessed to have been taught for 10 years by my dear piano teacher, Sister Eugenia. In 6th grade, she asked me if I would be interested in accompanying daily Mass on the organ in our parish. I think Sister was hoping, and possibly praying, for an occasional well-earned break! This opportunity surely made a tremendous impact on my life. And it was also a lot of fun!

I enrolled at University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire following high school. There I completed a Bachelor of Music Therapy degree, with concentration in organ and piano.

My husband and I began our lives together here in northern Illinois. I was employed as a Registered Music Therapist with special needs children and adults for several years. Music therapy – a most interesting and exciting profession!

A few years later, we were blessed with our three children at which time I spent my days with our children and my evenings teaching piano.

However, the liturgical music interest soon came back! I then studied several years with the late Dr. Sally Cherrington-Beggs. “Dr. Sally” tirelessly challenged me to further develop my organ skills and begin once again. I went on to serve at the Presbyterian Church of Barrington for 6 years. Presently, I serve as organist at the Lutheran Church of the Holy Spirit in Lincolnshire. This warm and welcoming congregation set in the forest preserve has been my church home for 13 years. Maggie Kemper has been a wonderful teacher as I further work to develop as a music minister and organist. As we know, this challenge is never completed!

I am so grateful for all the musicians and educators that have given me such wonderful experiences in music. And I look forward to getting to know more of our Chapter members in the years ahead.

Brigid Cantagallo

April 2017
Building Community

Richard Clemmitt

My wife, Elizabeth, and I moved to the North Shore in 1992. Although we came here primarily for my job as Organist and Choirmaster of Christ Church, Winnetka, we also were drawn by the thriving arts community and great schools. Elizabeth has worked for many years locally as an elementary music teacher. Both of us have been delighted to raise our two sons in such a vibrant and caring place.

From a young age I was inspired by the music at my home church in Washington, D.C. The instruction I received from talented teachers provided me with a call to work not only toward performance excellence but also toward effectively supporting the personal formation of my students. I frequently find my job at Christ Church most fulfilling because it offers me an opportunity to build community through music-making.

Having long-time instructional relationships with students is a privilege. Many of the youth choristers I teach begin singing in church choir in first grade and continue through twelfth grade. Some even return to sing on holidays after graduation. I enjoy creating a participatory place of music-making where organ music, choral music, and worship are the key elements.

I am grateful for all the excellent North Shore AGO events I have attended throughout the years. Now that my sons both are old enough to be in college, I am looking forward to becoming more involved!

Richard Clemmitt

March 2017
It’s Been a Great Ride!

Bill Aylesworth at the Scottish Rite Cathedral console with a young Mayor Daley looking on!

I grew up in Aurora. My dad sang in the choir at our church, Fourth Street Methodist, where his dad had been the minister from 1919 to 1926. As a little child I would always end up near the organ console after church.  It was an eight-rank tubular-pneumatic Hinners which had been donated by Andrew Carnegie in 1917. When I was five, my dad asked our organist if it was too early to start piano lessons. She replied, “Well, we can try”. Thus it began. At age eleven, she suggested organ lessons, and at age twelve, I played my first full service. Sixty-five years later I’m still at it, but I’m getting picky now.

I went to MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where I studied organ with Robert Glasgow. He taught there for some years before being called to a long and distinguished career at the university of Michigan. The chapel organ was a four-manual Aeolian-Skinner which was one of the last overseen by G. Donald Harrison. It was stunning. And to hear it played by such an artist as Dr. Glasgow was a thrill never to be forgotten. And to hear his organ accompaniments to Bach Cantata 140, Messiah, Fauré and Brahms Requiems –  there were no orchestra players out in the sticks in those days – was unbelievable.

I did graduate work at Union Theological Seminary in New York where I studied organ with Searle Wright, a truly remarkable musician who was in charge or the music at St. Paul’s Chapel, Columbia University. The organ there was another four-manual Aeolian-Skinner which spoke into an acoustic of about five seconds of reverberation. Unforgettable! Oh, the Widor Toccata!

Then I taught at Aurora College for six years and was organist at the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Aurora. I had designed the Schantz organ there which is now in the University of Wisconsin, Parkside, but I have never been up to see it.

Then I began doctoral studies at Northwestern, was lucky enough to find Peg, got married and moved to Evanston, and got a job playing for Unity Lutheran Church in Chicago. One day I walked into the office at Millar Chapel as our beloved Dr. Enright was also coming in. He said, “Bill, would you like to play for a wedding in Wilmette?” I said, “Sure.” He said, “Call Donna Moss”. I did and she arranged for me to play this wedding. She was organist at St. John’s Lutheran Church and couldn’t be there for the wedding for some reason. She called me after the wedding had taken place and said that the people at St. John’s were thrilled with my playing, and she then told me that she might be leaving and asked if I would be interested in the job. Well, I began there on Reformation Day in 1971 and remained there for thirty-eight and one half years! In the mean time, I was also lucky enough to have been the organist for the Scottish Rite Cathedral of Chicago and of Medinah Temple. I left St. John’s in 2010 and have been filling in as substitute and interim in various locations since then.

It has been a great ride. I have been active in the past in both the AGO and OHS and have met many wonderful people  thereby.  I have truly enjoyed giving recitals and designing organs for several churches. We all have our stories, some of them pretty funny at times, and if all could be put together, they would fill a book. Mostly happy times and happy memories.

Bill Aylesworth

February 2017
“Soli Deo Gloria!”

Bill Crowle

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.

Bill Crowle

January 2017
A Double Life

Nancy Klotzbach
Nancy Klotzbach

Susan Klotzbach

I joined the North Shore AGO chapter a year or so ago, when I began serving as organist at Kenilworth Union Church.  Unfortunately, my work in Bloomington has prevented me from attending AGO events in Chicago.  But, it is almost January, and that means it is time for new resolutions!  So, I have put the AGO events on my calendar for spring and will hope that I can meet some of you at an upcoming event!

I have held organist or music director positions in churches ever since I was in high school, working in Clinton, Illinois at the United Methodist Church. Over the years, I have had the privilege to serve churches in most of the mainline Protestant denominations. Currently, I am the organist at Kenilworth Union Church, and I also am an adjunct organ instructor at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois. My husband is employed at Illinois Wesleyan University, so we spend most of the week in Bloomington and the weekends in Chicago. For us it is absolutely perfect! I was inspired to begin organ lessons while in high school from Doris Hill, the organist at my church. She made worship interesting by the way she played the hymns and with her choice of music. From there I continued organ study at the University of Iowa with Del Disselhorst, then on to graduate school at the Eastman School of Music with Russell Saunders.  I consider myself very fortunate to have had such good teachers!

Since leaving school, my full-time positions have primarily been teaching organ at the collegiate level: Houghton College in Houghton, NY; Carthage College in Kenosha WI; and Stetson University in Deland FL; all the while, continuing to hold part-time positions as a church musician. I enjoyed working with many excellent students!

I feel it is a privilege to be able to help lead worship at KUC, working with the other wonderful musicians and clergy. I also enjoy playing the Dobson two-manual pipe organ!

I look forward to meeting the members of this AGO chapter, and to sharing in the support and collegiality that belonging to an AGO chapter brings!

Susan Klotzbach

December 2016
A Midwesterner Comes Home

Brian Schoettler

Brian Schoettler

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!

Brian Schoettler

November 2016
Kraft, BMW, and AGO


Christopher Urban

I started taking organ lessons in 7th grade.  I was involved with music at church from a very early age and was always fascinated by the sound of the organ and all the buttons!  I started taking piano lessons in 2nd grade and never really liked it.  When I started taking organ lessons I had discovered my true musical calling.

One of my favorite roles has been leading the congregation in worship. The most fulfilling part of my job is playing the great hymns of the church.  I am lucky to serve a congregation that loves music and sings the hymns of our faith with vigor and vitality.  I also enjoy playing recitals on the church’s concert series.  This gives the congregation the opportunity to hear the organ outside of the context of a worship experience.

When I’m not at the console, I am the Sr. Director of Marketing at Kraft Heinz where I lead the Lunchables, P3 and Claussen pickles businesses.  I have been at Kraft Heinz for ten years.  In addition, I have a love for BMWs: I have three, an X5, 3-series convertible, and a 5-series.  My partner Todd and I enjoy traveling and spending time at our house in Saugatuck, MI.

I think of the AGO as a great opportunity for getting to know other organists and really get ideas for new repertoire.  I always love reading TAO, especially the story about the featured instrument.

Christopher Urban

October 2016
An Inevitable Accident

Robert McConnell

Robert McConnell

“And when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the LORD, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” the house, the house of the LORD, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of God.” (2nd Chronicles 5:13-14)

My journey in church music has been both accidental and inevitable. I had been deeply involved in the music program of my home church – Church of the Savior Lutheran in Paramus, NJ – serving as the pianist in the praise band, writing music for the choir, and filling in from time to time for the organist. This ended with college where I took a break from the Church altogether. I studied composition and conducting at Northwestern University with the intention of becoming a professional full-time conductor. By the conclusion of my Master’s degree no one had yet told me that making a living as a conductor was virtually impossible for someone in their 20’s. My mother had been telling me since high school to take organ lessons and I began studying with Maggie Kemper in the last year of my Master’s. I was by no means greatly proficient, but here’s where the accident appeared. Stephen Alltop recommended me for an organist job in Barrington which the church was desperate to fill. I could play hymns well enough and some easy repertoire, but I asked him if he thought I was qualified for such a job. He said no, but that I would become qualified. So I took the job and stayed a year, during which time I practiced a lot. This is what I mean by “inevitable”. During my Master’s degree, I had a spiritual reawaking in my Christian faith that not only got me back into church, but also catalyzed a vocation for church music. After a year of non-stop practicing, I was ready for a larger job and accepted the Music Director position at St. John’s Lutheran in Wilmette, where I have been since 2010. Since that time, I have received a DMA in orchestral conducting at Northwestern. Although my career as a conductor might change the way my vocation in church music is expressed, nevertheless I expect it to remain undiminished.

In writing this article, I unearthed the first newsletter article I wrote for St. John’s in October 2010 in which I described my philosophy of church music through the passage in 2nd Chronicles quoted above. It remains as relevant for me now as then. I see my vocation as a church musician to “bring the glory down.” When all is said and done, I judge the success or failure of my ministry on whether, through music, people have had a tangible encounter with the living God. I don’t mean to exaggerate the importance of music ministry in this encounter, but as the passage above makes clear, music is an important part of the process. Whatever I do in the future and however my vocation is expressed, I hope I can always be part of making the God’s presence real for the people.

Robert McConnell
Music Director and Organist, St. John’s Lutheran Church of Wilmette