January 2018
Fourth Annual Epiphany Party

On Friday evening, January 5, Dean Andrea Handley hosted the festive Annual Epiphany Party at her home, once again. It was a delightful evening of fellowship, absolutely delicious food, fun, and music. Andrea & Sharon (Peterson), as usual, played a 4-hand version of LeRoy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride; Bob Woodworth led the members in a game of answering questions about the NSAGO’s history, (it was great fun!); and then we enjoyed a sing-a-long of Epiphany Carols from the Oxford Book of Carols.  New friends were made and old friendships renewed.

The evening was so much fun that we all forgot to take pictures….:-) But nevertheless, it was a wonderful beginning to 2018. Thanks to all who planned, cooked, and attended. We have a great chapter!

Sharon Peterson, Sub-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

October 2017
A Wonderful Beginning to Our Anniversary Season

The North Shore Chapter began the celebration of our 60th anniversary year on September 24th with a special service and installation of officers and board members entitled Through the Ages: A Service of Celebration Honoring the North Shore Chapter’s Heritage. It was held at First United Methodist Church in Evanston, a significant venue in the chapter’s history.

Carl Grapentine

Carl Grapentine, of Chicago’s WFMT, provided commentary on the significant music, people, and remarkable history of the chapter. It was amazing to hear the stories and anecdotes that Steven Folkers, archivist, and Morgan Simmons had been able to bring to light to share at this event! The program was a veritable “who’s who” of North Shore history, featuring music of renowned chapter composers, such as Clarence Dickinson, Peter Christian Lutkin, Thomas Matthews, Morgan and Mary Simmons, Adrienne Tindall, and Austin Lovelace.

Brian Schoettler directing community choir

The tone of the program was set by the prelude, as we heard the strains of Widor’s Andante Sostenuto, from the Symphonie Gothique, played by Dr. William Aylesworth, a former dean. Currrent dean, Andrea Handley, welcomed everyone with thoughtful words of appreciation for the history and achievements of the chapter. Christine Kraemer of St. Luke’s Episcopal in Evanston expertly accompanied the choir and led hymns, as Brian Schoettler from First Methodist directed a community choir in the anthems and rousing hymn selections. Brian closed the program with his own postlude on “Praise to the Lord”.

Installation of officers, led by Maggie Kemper

Other participants included former deans, Jill Hunt and Leon Nelson, reading the New Testament reading and a Prayer of Remembrance, respectively. We were also honored to have Margaret McElwain Kemper, former dean and former President of the National AGO reading Psalm 150 and presiding for the installation of the board.

Cake decorated with National logo!

Adrienne Tindall, Morgan Simmons, Judy Kohl, Andrea Handley and Kathy Roderer with cake decorated with chapter logo

The enthusiastic participation in the singing was an inspiration to all. The capstone of the evening was an elegant reception in Glenna Hall, provided by Judy Kohl and Adrienne Tindall. The two amazing cakes, one with the chapter logo, the other with the national AGO logo, added to the festive environment. We were all so proud to be members of this wonderful organization, celebrating this gala year!

Kathy Roderer

Kathy Roderer, board member

July 2017
Closing Members Recital and Gala Reception – a Gift of Rarely Heard Compositions

Console at St. Giles

On June 5, the North Shore Chapter AGO closed the 2016-2017 season with an exciting Members Recital and Gala Champagne Reception at St. Giles Episcopal Church in Northbrook, featuring various composers writing of music in the time of “War and Peace”. An array of various compositional styles ranging from Sweelinck to the contemporary Denis Bedard were played by Phillip Kloeckner, Richard Clemmitt, Alan Hommerding, Todd Gresick and Derek Nickels on the 1993 Hellmuth Wolff tracker organ.

Back: Alan Hommerding, Richard Clemmitt, Philip Kloeckner Front: Todd Gresick, Derek Nickels

This was a program of excellent playing of some very rarely heard compositions with this unique theme. Immediately following this program all those in attendance greeted the artists with a champagne toast and a wonderful assortment of hors d’oeuvres. What a great way to celebrate yet another year of Chapter programming!

Robert Woodworth

Robert Woodworth, board member

June 2017
Shout for Joy! A Review of our April 30 Hymn Festival

Winnetka Congregational Church was the light-filled setting for North Shore Chapter’s Hymn festival on Sunday afternoon, April 30. About 50 members and friends gathered for “This Joyful Eastertide,” led by organist David Cherwien and poet Susan Palo Cherwien.

Before the service, David rehearsed a choir of 14 (AGO members, a professional quartet, and members of the National Lutheran Choir), who led the singing of nine hymns. Susan offered spoken reflections in alternation with the hymns.

True to their strong backgrounds liturgy and church music, David and Susan chose hymns and texts which led us through a liturgy highlighting Easter themes:

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee

Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain

In Deepest Night (text: Susan Cherwien, tune: David Cherwien)

O Blessed Spring (text: Susan Cherwien, tune: Robert Farlee)

Now the Green Blade Rises

Out of Deep Unordered Water

Lord Whose Love Through Humble Service

This Joyful Eastertide

Abide with Me

David displayed much enthusiasm and skill in his introductions, interludes and accompaniments, showing off the vast tonal resources of the Martin Pasi organ. He demonstrated how to enhance the experience of singing hymns: verses for choir alone, verse for organ alone, all in unison, choir or all in harmony, verses for men alone or women alone, choir leading a canon, and choir voices accompanying with an ostinato. Susan’s spoken words were meaningful pauses, giving us time to reflect (and rest from vigorous singing). There was much variety in mood, tempo, texture, and color, a mix of familiar, lesser known, and newer hymns.

David Cherwien is Artistic Director of the National Lutheran Choir and Cantor at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. He holds DMA and MA degrees from the University of Minnesota and a bachelor’s degree in music education and organ performance from Augsburg College. He studied at the Berlin Church Music School for two years.

Susan Palo Cherwien studied church music and voice at Wittenberg University and voice in Berlin for five years at the Hochschule der Kunste. She holds a Master of Liberal Studies degree from Mundelein College. Two of her books are “Crossings: Meditations for Worship” and “From Glory into Glory-Reflections for Worship.”

Our thanks go to the Cherwiens, Winnetka Congregational Church and their organist Elaine Clemens, the Festival Quartet and Choir, and North Shore board members Rich Leasure and Philip McPeek, who organized this inspiring event.

Christine Kraemer

Submitted by Christine Kraemer

February 18 Inside the Organ Event Very Informative and Interesting!

On Saturday, February 18, 2017, Barry Wenger welcomed members and friends to the organ loft of First Presbyterian Church in Lake Forest for a presentation on organ building and maintenance. Kurt Roderer, retired organ builder, and Steve Hoover, of Berghaus Organ Company and current curator of the Casavant tracker organ led the lecture and demonstration.

Examples were shown of an electro-pneumatic organ mechanism, with leather pouches, as well as the magnet system used in a direct electric organ. The pros and cons of these organs were explored, and compared to tracker organs, generating many questions and interesting comments from the group. Kurt and Steve also showed examples of pipes, such as principals, flutes, and reeds, along with different ways of tuning them. They addressed the various methods and materials used in pipe-making, including types of wood and metal. Everyone learned how the shape of a pipe can affect the color and tone of its sound.

A high level of interest was shown by participants as they asked questions and discussed various situations and organs they have played. Practical considerations, such as how temperature affects tuning and the possible causes of ciphers and dead notes were offered, with the admonition that trying to “do it yourself” can sometimes lead to additional problems! The session ended with everyone having an opportunity to explore the inside of the organ and see the way the trackers work up close, as Barry beautifully demonstrated the wide variety of colors and types of sounds this lovely instrument can produce.

Everyone left with a renewed appreciation for the organ as an instrument. Regardless of the type of organ, it’s amazing to consider what is happening inside the organ as we play!

Kathy Roderer, board member

Kathy Roderer

January 2017
Epiphany Party Thumbs Up!

A review of last Friday’s third annual Epiphany party….in verse!

The party at Andrea’s was surely a blast.
The food was perfect and the drinks did last.
We had conversations with friends old and new,
And we played some games that were fun, too.
So, if you missed Andrea’s party this year,
Drop by next time for a cup of good cheer.

Bev Sheridan

December 2016
November 12 Workshop on Creative Hymn Playing and Adapting Piano Accompaniments for the Organ


Chris Urban, Andrea Handley, Sharon Peterson, Jill Hunt

Saturday, November 12, 2016, four presenters cooperated on two workshops: “Creative Hymn Playing & Adapting Piano Music for the Organ.” This event, hosted by Chris Urban and First Presbyterian Church of Arlington Heights, IL, was taught by Organists Andrea Handley, Chris Urban, Jill Hunt, and Sharon R. Peterson.

In the first session Andrea and Chris each addressed Creative Hymn Playing from their own perspectives.  Andrea creates her own modulations and enhanced harmonizations, so she demonstrated various templates she uses for introductions, alternate harmonizations, pedal lines, and modulations between verses.  It was particularly helpful that she included printed Finale examples of all these techniques.

Chris Urban gave an overview of many printed collections of Introductions, Free Harmonizations, Modulations, Piano/Organ Duets, music for Organ & Brass, and music for Organ and various instruments. His demonstrations as well as comprehensive list of resources is a wonderful tool the chapter appreciates and will use frequently as well.

Jill Hunt shared her research on the R. Vaughan Williams’ Five Mystical Songs, using the piano score, (the original composition,) J. Melvin Butler’s organ accompaniment, and the full orchestral score to inform her organ accompaniment. She explained how she compiled her part to show what Vaughan Williams intended, using what the organ can offer to best advantage.

Sharon R. Peterson gave a demonstration of the possibilities the organ offers to enhance an anthem written for choir and piano. She invited the attendees to sing to enable them to first feel how the organ supported them. Then she analyzed what she’d played – emphasizing the importance of listening and thinking as a Conductor while making decisions about the adaptation from piano to organ.

This rich presentation inspired the attendees to take these resources to heart to enhance their playing. The workshop provided the perfect follow-up to the previous month’s astounding concert presented by Notre Dame Cathedral’s Organist, Vincent Dubois.

Although attendance was decent, given four people presented, (and three of them are on the NSAGO board) members should make a renewed effort to attend these valuable educational events.  The Board will make the distributed resources available to our chapter members in some way. Please look for details in upcoming Overtones.

Sharon Peterson

Sharon R. Peterson

Sharon R. Peterson

November 2016
Dubois’ Dazzling Performance


Vincent Dubois at the console of the Opus 327

On Friday evening, October 7, the North Shore Chapter continued celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of organ builder Ernest M. Skinner with a dazzling recital by Vincent Dubois, the newest of three titular organists at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. To honor Skinner, Dubois performed on one of the Chicago area’s finest surviving examples of Skinner’s genius, the faithfully restored Opus 327 at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, Evanston, which was originally installed in 1922. It was a marvelous pairing of performer and instrument!  And the 300 or so in the audience were treated to an incredible evening.

Playing entirely from memory, Dubois presented a panoply of great French organ music, including several of the best-known works by Franck, Vierne, Widor, Messiaen, Dupré, and Duruflé. None disappointed!

His phrasing in Franck’s Chorale in A minor was both elegant and warm. His combination of Vierne’s colorful Clair de Lune (dedicated to Ernest M. Skinner) and boisterous Toccata was perfect programming. When the audience responded to his rendition of the first movement of Widor’s 6th Symphony with “bravo’s” and enthusiastic applause, I suspect many may have been thinking what I was: I’ve dreamt of playing Widor like that, but my technique has never been up to the task….


The crowd awaits the beginning of the recital.

Right before intermission Dubois played Edwin Lemare’s transcription of Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre, possibly a nod to Halloween? It was virtuosic, theatrical, and great fun, a grand demonstration of the variety of color available on Skinner’s Opus 327, including chimes, celestes, big reeds, and more.

Following intermission, Dubois presented more of the greatest and grandest of French organ repertoire, including Dieu parmi nous from Messiaen’s La Nativité du Seigneur, two movements from Dupré’s Symphonie-Passion, and Duruflé’s Prélude et Fugue sur le Nom d’ALAIN. I began to feel just a little exhausted – I’m ashamed to admit I came close to uttering that infamous line, “too many notes” – but Dubois’ energy never flagged. His registrations continued to serve the music beautifully (see below for more details about the registration), his virtuosity never overwhelmed musical intent, and his programming was still balanced. Presented in the context of so many “big” works, I especially appreciated Dubois’ quieter than usual approach to the Duruflé Prelude and Fugue.

To end the recital, Dubois improvised on the German chorale Christ ist erstanden (chosen from a couple of themes given him just before he performed). He found still more color on the organ, beginning with atmospheric celestes and high pitches. Sometimes evocative, sometimes playful, his textures included perpetual motion, parallelism, and cluster chords – all in all, a fitting conclusion to an amazing display of talent, musicianship, dexterity, and sheer delight in sharing great music on a great instrument.


Instruction sheets prepared by Vincent Dubois for registrants Jay Peterson and Christine Kraemer, used instead of music for his recital at St. Luke’s in Evanston on Friday, Oct 7. M. Dubois called out the circled numbers as he played from memory!


Dubois with registrants Jay Peterson and Christine Kraemer

Kudos for this recital must also go to Jay Peterson and Christine Kraemer (St. Luke’s organist), who played a very important part. At the beginning of the evening, Christine welcomed the audience and explained that Dubois would perform completely from memory, and that she and Jay would serve as registrants. Since the organ console at St. Luke’s is not visible to the audience, I think we all wondered how Jay and Christine knew when to make registration changes with no music score to follow. Here are some of the details (provided to me by Evan DuVall – thank you, Evan!): All the registration was written out and keyed to a numbering scheme on 8×11 sheets of paper. Dubois called out numbers in advance to Christine and Jay, who then set up the stops as outlined (see photo at left below). Dubois also gave other verbal instructions as necessary – while playing! No music was used, even during practice with the registrants – in fact, Jay and Christine are not sure Dubois even brought printed music.



Dubois with Evan Duvall (event chair), Christine Kraemer (Secretary), Andrea Handley (Dean) and Sharon Peterson (Sub-dean)

Clearly, Vincent Dubois is one of the great performers of our time. What a thrill to hear him in person, bringing to life the music and sounds of brilliant organists who were the great performers of their times. Also clearly, St. Luke’s Skinner Opus 327 is one of our local treasures, a most worthy channel for bringing the sounds of the past into the present. Thank you to all involved for making possible this confluence of music, musician, and organ!

Dr. Elizabeth Naegele,
North Shore AGO member

July 2016
Report on National Convention in Houston

IMG_2113_2 (1)

Front row: Weicheng Zhao (student of Cherry Rhodes) Katelyn Emerson (first place winner), Morgan Simmons, Kirk Rich. Back row: Nicolas Capozzoli, Tamer Edlebi (oboist), Zachary Zwahlen (student of David Higgs).

On Friday, June 18, I was privileged to attend the competition in Houston preliminary to the National Convention of AGO and honored to have one of  my compositions, “Reflections for Oboe and Organ”, played as a required piece by all five of the finalists. I must say it was a heady time for this old codger!  Each of the organists did a super job of interpreting the piece with very beautiful and sensitive playing by the oboist Tamer Edlebi, a master’s degree student at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University.

A big thanks to Jay Peterson, who was in charge of planning the event and then executing all the details that made it such a success.  He was also responsible for choosing my piece, for which I’m grateful!

Several North Shore chapter members attended the convention: Michael Gagne, Jill Hunt, Jay Peterson, Joyce Robinson, and Barry Wenger among them.  Although I didn’t stay for the whole of the convention, I had opportunity of visiting with many treasured friends and hearing more excellent playing.  The future of the profession looks bright because of the wealth of talent exhibited by the young players who are already making names for themselves.  Keep an eye and ear on them!

Morgan Simmons