October 2017
A Musical Journey

John Hopkins

It seems a lifetime ago that I was a grade school kid at St. Francis Xavier in Wilmette. At that time, the school offered free music lessons…students would leave class and walk across the parking lot to the convent. My piano teacher, Sister Marian Celeste, looked at me one day and said, “I think your legs are long enough now. I shall teach you to play the organ”. And that’s how it all began. The year was 1958.

Several years later as a junior at Loyola Academy High School, the organist at St. Francis died unexpectedly, and I became the weekday organist, playing three morning services before heading out to school to start the day at 9:30. It was the good old days of the Latin mass, so not only did I play the organ, I also had to sing the responses back to the priest in Latin.

After high school, I would often sub at Faith Hope & Charity Church in Winnetka. Most of my music, however, was playing piano at a club on Rush Street called the Red Garter. 3 banjos, a tuba, and me on piano. I learned to love Dixieland music and made a good living playing weekends for parties and gatherings.

Twenty years ago, while subbing at the Congregational UCC church in Arlington Heights, I was asked to take the open position of permanent organist. It was then I discovered the AGO, which provided a wonderful resource of contacts and a resource for music. The professionalism of AGO was much appreciated, and I especially valued the contacts with other musicians in the field.

I left the UCC church after 7 years to return to subbing. Many Saturday evening masses were played at St. Michaels in Old Town, and St. Joseph in Wilmette. Meantime I took a permanent spot at Community Presbyterian Church in Mt. Prospect, a position I held until this year when I became full time music director at St. Joseph Church. Current responsibilities include both an adult and a children’s choir, 5 weekend services, and dozens of wedding and funerals.

It’s been a long and varied journey, but one filled with beautiful music. Who could ask for a better life!

John Hopkins

September 2017
My Life as a Beginning Organ Student: Highlights and Confessions

Richard Spears

As with so many others, my obsession with the pipe organ began when I was a child. When I was eight, the families of the adult choir were enlisted to relocate organ pipes and parts from the sanctuary to the parlor while the church chancel was being rebuilt. I was fascinated by the idea that all those strange parts were needed to produce the incredible sounds of the instrument. No one but the organist was allowed to play the church’s huge Kilgen, but I often sat behind her trying to figure out how the thing worked. I was certain what a Bombarde would sound like, even though it was never used, and I was desperate to know what kind of hole an Ophicleide would blow in the wall.

I took piano lessons for ages and received instruction on the organ from the church organist who provided me with her ancient, marked up copies of Bach’s major works, and served as my driver and chaperone to hear visiting recitalists. My regular practice instruments were a Hammond and a Baldwin.

As a teenager, I attended two of the “Summer Vocal Camp” sessions at Westminster Choir College in the 1950s. John Finley Williamson lectured about the union of choral singing and the pipe organ, with George Markey demonstrating the lecture points. And the knot joining the two was pulled tight in my mind and heart. There were of course, practice organs available for “borrowing.” It was the intense choral experiences of those summers that led me to study phonetics, with the goal of benefiting choral singing.

About ten years after my first exposure to organ innards, I found myself at college, hired as a day laborer to gleefully unload a new Reuter organ, pipes and parts, for installation in a church across the street from Texas Christian University. I had come there intending to study organ, but life happened. My student job was in the same buildings as the practice organs, where I “borrowed” practice time, and “borrowed” advice from anybody who knew more than I did. My day labor status quickly changed to installer, wiring specialist, pipe-racker, key-holder, and even tuner. Ah, the road to heaven was paved with spotted metal!

The organ was completed and finished about the time that E. Power Biggs came to town to play a concert. He was shown this new neo-baroque wonder and I was told he loved it. I had the audacity to attend (observe) his Master Class the next day, and when he asked if there were any non-organists in the audience, I was foolish enough to raise my hand. I was read the riot act and advised to leave and attend his recital instead. I was singled out, glowered at, and my life events were lining up to pass before my eyes. He was interrupted by the head of the organ department who gently told Biggs that I was “one of the builders of the organ across the street that you liked so well when you played it yesterday.” There was a complete change of tune, and I was praised for coming, and Biggs thought all organ builders should attend. (I was definitely “schooled” by E. Power Biggs and managed to steal a lesson or two anyway, the first being, don’t raise your hand.) Following that, I did tuning and repair in Ft. Worth, and while I was in graduate school in Bloomington, Indiana. When I traveled doing service and installations during the summers, I learned that quite a few of my fellow organ technicians played quite well, had organ degrees, and didn’t mind having “lessons” stolen from them. I also learned that it was always wise to be playing something challenging just as the organist is arriving to approve the tuning. My repertoire thenceforth consisted of the first pages of some really good stuff.

After a long career teaching phonetics, lexicography, and linguistics at Northwestern, I left academia and became a full-time lexicographer, retiring from MacGraw-Hill in 2001. Much later, at age 72, I went back to my love, the organ, and picked up where I had left off. I find I am still able to learn, slowly, but, alas, I am not able to be taught. So I am back to stealing advice. I purchased a Johannus so I don’t have to steal practice time any longer.

I have been a member of the Organ Historical Society for a number of years, and was encouraged to join the AGO because it’s filled with old and new friends with whom I share so much. I am happy to serve on the board, and give something back as well as work to sustain respect for the instrument and its players.

Richard Spears, board member

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