In commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of their founding, the congregation of First Lutheran Church of West Seattle commissioned David Dahl to write a celebratory anthem. That anthem, entitled “How Dear to Me is Your Dwelling,” will be published by The Sacred Music Press. Its premiere performance will be at First Lutheran Church, West Seattle, in September 2018 during a commemorative service.
Andrew King, organist at First Lutheran, and one of David Dahl’s first organ students at Pacific Lutheran University, asked for a setting of the opening verses of Psalm 84, to be followed by the last stanza of the Lutheran Chorale “Praise to the Lord the Almighty.” David admits, “It became a challenge to write ‘new’ music for a hymn text wedded to such a familiar chorale tune as Lob den Herren.”
The finished work consists entirely of newly conceived music, inspired by the various poetic texts of the psalm and the hymn, featuring alternating accompanied and unaccompanied sections, mostly four parts. The organ accompaniment is inspired by the organ in the church–an eighteen-stop mechanical organ built by the Fritz Noack company in 1976.
David Dahl is organist emeritus at Pacific Lutheran University, a member of the Tacoma Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and a prolific composer of organ music and choir anthems.
Juyeon Kim recently moved to Lakewood and is hoping to find a place to practice for her audition to study organ at the University of Washington. She holds a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music in Organ Performance from Yonsei University in South Korea. She moved to Atlanta in 2011 so that her husband could pursue a conducting degree.
If anybody can help her find a place to practice, please contact her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 346-234-0062. If anybody would like more information, please ask. I can send you her complete request.
I would judge the organ at the mall event to be successful. We don’t know how many people saw the organ, but I think it was a steady stream. Satya and Sandy were there, and can add their opinions.
I think it is worth doing again, but with some enhancements. We should have a card to pass out with some basic information on our group, including the web address and how to take organ lessons. We might consider having cookies. We should definitely hire some muscle to help move the organ in and out. Seattle has indicated that they want to do it again, but I think the second time, we would have to help with the cost of the trailer. If we could figure out a way to publicize it, that would be good also. We should also plan it far enough in advance that we can get more members to participate.
I have already written the newsletter article. It’s here: tacomaago.org/ago-goes-to-the-tacoma-mall/
The Tacoma Mall is an unlikely place to find a tracker organ, but that is exactly what happened the evening of December 15, 2017, as the Seattle and Tacoma AGO chapters collaborated on an event to expose the public to real organs and live organ playing.
The Seattle chapter owns a three-stop tracker organ built by Marceau, and later expanded by the Fisk organ company. For several years, the Seattle chapter has taken the organ into shopping malls to engage the public. This year, thanks to a connection between former Seattle dean Norma Aamodt-Nelson and the Tacoma Mall, where Norma’s daughter is the director of marketing, the list of malls included Tacoma.
The organ is built so that it can be disassembled for transport. The top half sits on four dowels that rise from the bottom half. The pedalboard can be removed, and the keyboard retracted. AGO members Carl Dodrill and David Lepse have become somewhat expert in moving this organ, though it is very heavy and not a trivial task. The organ attracted a few onlookers as it made its way from the curb into the Macy’s court, followed by a steady stream of listeners and curious shoppers as organists played Advent and Christmas music for three hours.
Organists included Tom Clark, Kathy Eggleston, Norma Aamodt-Nelson, David Lepse, and Tim Drewes, all of whom are members of the Tacoma Chapter. In addition, two members displayed dual talents. Karen Bredberg played cello, accompanied by organ, including some “real” pieces and some carols from the 1982 Hymnal. Member Cheryl Drewes, known nationally as an organist, surprised many of us with her expert tuba performance. She and Tim Drewes attracted an audience with a number of jazzy renditions. Satya Jaech and Tom Clark improvised some carol duets.
A few people sat and listened the whole time, and many more shoppers stopped by to investigate. AGO members were on hand to answer their questions, to demonstrate how organs and pipes work, and generally to provide education about real organs.
Members Wendell Brunk, Donald Dunscomb, and Tom Clark arrived early to help our Seattle colleagues set up the organ. Wendell and Don were joined at various times by members Satya Jaech, Nancy Ferree-Clark, and Sandy Tietjen as they engaged the public. Special thanks to member spouses Dick Tietjen and Rick Jaech who stayed to help get the organ back in the trailer, along with Tim Drewes and Tom Clark.
In an age where fewer people are exposed to organ music through church connections, and where most people equate organs with electronic devices, it is important to find opportunities to expose people to real organs and organ music. Perhaps one or more of those curious children at the mall will go home and ask to take organ lessons. Maybe one of those curious onlookers will be on a church music committee.
Many thanks to our Seattle colleagues for proposing this event, for providing the organ, and for transporting it to Tacoma to support our shared mission of advancing the cause of organ and choral music in a very public way.