North Shore Chapter of the American Guild of Organists
Sub-dean: Sharon Peterson
Secretary: Richard Leasure
Treasurer: Laurie Stivers
Board members, Class of 2018:
Board members, Class of 2019:
Board members, Class of 2020:
Overtones is the monthly newsletter of the North Shore Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Read this month's issue below, or click here for past issues. For current job listings, see our Job Listings section. For our leadership and a list of chapter contributors, visit our About Us section. And to learn more about the North Shore Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, please explore our website.
December 2017 Overtones
We have now had two incredible programs in our 60th anniversary season. Scroll down – after reading this, of course - to see a review of Janette Fishell’s thoughtfully planned and beautifully executed recital at Millar Chapel on November 10, and then read about the very enjoyable and informative masterclass the following morning.
As we all face collectively hundreds of rehearsals, services and concerts in the coming weeks, I ask you all to consider adding one quick thing to your to-do list. Invite a non-AGO organist friend or a non-active AGO friend to come with you to the Epiphany party on Friday, January 5. It’s a great time for organists to celebrate – all our hard December work is done and we can relax and share stories. This year, in keeping with our anniversary theme, we will feature a trivia game involving the history of our chapter. So most especially if you are a long-time member, WE NEED YOU to come play this game! We will gather at 6pm for drinks and appetizers, followed by dinner at 6:30pm. Look for an Evite in the next few weeks, and just add the number of your guest/s to your RSVP. We look forward to seeing many of you.
On another topic, we are in the midst of updating our chapter directory, and need your help. In the past we have asked you all to send your more detailed information to us via an email directly to us. But we’ve decided that it’s more efficient to ask you all to make sure your personal/employment information is added/updated in ONCARD. We will then take the info you have in ONCARD and import it into our chapter directory.
Stay warm, play well, and hope to see many of you on January 5.
Andrea Handley, Dean
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Elizabeth Naegele, board member
My first experience hearing a pipe organ live happened when I attended the graduation of the Medical School at the University of Michigan as a child. We were in Hill Auditorium when all the newly minted medical doctors, including a family friend, stood up for the recessional. At that moment, Marilyn Mason launched into the Toccata from Widor’s Fifth Symphony. My sisters and I were totally overwhelmed. Although my mother was a church organist, I never thought I would play a pipe organ or play that Toccata. It seemed like a complete fantasy.
But then, much later in life I became an organist the way I believe many do. The church I attended in Grayslake, IL decided to add a service and, since I was accompanying choirs and soloists regularly on the piano, I was asked to play the organ for this service. After a few weeks of being clueless about pedaling and registration, I found a teacher. Dr. Marilyn Stulken, of Racine, WI and former Dean of the Kenosha-Racine Chapter of AGO, taught me all the basics and then decided I should work for my Service Playing Certificate. So the initial impetus for joining AGO was to achieve a higher and certifiable standard of playing, which I was able to achieve. Then, she helped me find a job playing a pipe organ. So now, many years later, I am still playing the 55 rank E.M. Skinner at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church that Ernest himself installed in Kenosha, WI during the 20’s, an organ that was completely refurbished by Marilyn’s husband, Tom Rench and Co. in 2003. I also, on occasion, play that famous Toccata.
I have taken advantage of as many AGO activities as I can. When Chicago hosted the National Convention, I helped at registration and monitored the ballroom. Afterwards, the convention workers had a wonderful recital and party at the San Filippo Estate. I also attended the Boston Convention where I attended a lecture on the history of the Skinner organ. The week following the convention, the presenters of this lecture surprised me by coming to Wisconsin and visiting St. Matthew’s to see our Opus 505. I also attended a Regional Convention in Kalamazoo that was very inspirational. I plan to help Milwaukee with their regional convention in 2019. A year or two ago I played on their Members Recital at St. Joseph’s Convent Church in Milwaukee.
On the local level, I have really enjoyed what the North Shore Chapter has to offer. Last fall’s hymn workshop was just outstanding. This year’s recital and masterclass by Janette Fishell was also wonderful. And of course, I have loved the Epiphany parties! My plan for the future is to have a POE event at St. Matthew’s church. We have a number of people, including some from Carthage College who are interested in pursuing this.
As a resident of Illinois and an employee in Wisconsin, I have found it beneficial to belong to the North Shore, the Milwaukee, and often the Chicago chapters of AGO. I have made great friends in all these organizations. A few years ago we held a Halloween concert at St. Matthew’s and friends from the Milwaukee and North Shore chapters performed. We packed the church and a good time was had by all.
Our income from membership dues during November was $74. Thank you to William Jones and John Ligda for choosing our North Shore Chapter.
During November I wrote checks for a little over $8,000. At our meeting in November, the Board decided to contribute $1,000 to the Enright Scholarship fund. The remaining checks were for expenses tied to the Janette Fishell concert earlier this month. There is one remaining bill from that event that I am waiting to receive.
I moved $8,000 from our non-scholarship savings account into the checking account. So the balances in our 3 accounts are:
Checking account balance less outstanding checks $2,631.44
Scholarship (saving account) $5,316.71
General saving account $24,017.97
Laurie Stivers, Treasurer
You may find many organ events throughout the Chicago area listed on our calendar. You can access the calendar from the Calendar tab on our homepage, or by clicking here: http://northshoreago.org/events/
If you'd like to send an event to be posted, email in the following format to email@example.com:
City, State, Zip Code
Day of week, Date, Time
Title of program
Performer’s name, where from
Title of program
Short description of event…..
For more information, contact:……
January Jubilees exist to nurture the many part-time musicians working for religious institutions, and provide opportunities for them to be introduced to the AGO and its work and mission. January Jubilees offer part-time musicians the chance to meet and interact with peers who share an interest in the King of Instruments. There are two 2018 Great Lakes Region Jubilees. Dates are listed in January and February on the non-NSAGO calendar.