Greetings from your new sub dean! I am delighted to begin serving the Tacoma AGO chapter. I may be unfamiliar to many members, as I divide my time between Seattle (where I’m the Organist & Choirmaster at Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, and Associate Organist at Blessed Sacrament) and Tacoma (where I work with the opera program at PLU). In my idle hours between playing and driving, I try to compose…and attend organ recitals!
This coming Monday, July 2nd, there will be a program meeting to plan chapter events for 2018/19. If you have ideas, please join us for the meeting, or send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Monday night, May 21, 2018, the Tacoma AGO Chapter inducted new officers and members of the executive committee. New officers include, from left to right, David Dahl, Member-at-Large, Paul Thornock, Dean, Sandy Tietjen, Treasurer, Sheila Bristow, Sub-Dean, and Thomas Clark, Secretary. In absentia, Satya Jaech and Cooper Sherry were inducted as board members at large.
Our hosts for the occasion were Dean Paul Thornock and his wife Nancy, who graciously opened their home and prepared a sumptuous spread.
Many thanks to the Thornock family for their hospitality. Thanks also to outgoing officers and board members Una Hwang, Naomi Shiga, and Curt Sather.
Bruce Neswick, Canon for Music at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon, was featured as both a performer and teacher at our April meeting at Kilworth Chapel, University of Puget Sound. Bruce is no stranger to the Tacoma AGO. A graduate of Pacific Lutheran University, Bruce has maintained his ties to the Pacific Northwest even though his training and professional life have been global.
The program began with a short recital featuring the Easter section of the Orgelbuchlein of J. S. Bach. Bruce used these six pieces to demonstrate the flexibility and power of the Bethel Schneebeck organ in Kilworth Chapel, opus 8 of Paul Fritts, who is a University of Puget Sound graduate, member of the Tacoma AGO, and who was in attendance.
Following the recital, three local organists played in a masterclass format.
Emma Rose Kelly, a current student at University of Puget Sound, chose a Buxtehude work, Prelude, Fugue, and Chaconne, BuxWV 137. In discussing this piece, Bruce made numerous references to grammar, comparing the musical phrases to spoken phrases, requiring semicolons and paragraphs. This piece contains both triplets and dotted rhythms, and with Bruce’s help, Emma Rose was able to distinguish them clearly.
Collin Whitfield, the 2018 recipient of the Tacoma AGO organ scholarship and organist at Mason United Methodist Church, chose to play Bach’s Little Prelude and Fugue in G Major, BWV 557. Bruce used this piece to discuss the importance of recognizing the musical character of each section of a piece, and accenting those features.
He was genuinely affirming to each one of us in a way that made up for the terror of playing in front of an audience of peers!
Satya Jaech, the last performer, is active in the Tacoma AGO, having served on the board for the past two years, and having been elected to serve four more. She chose BWV 662, Allein Gott in der Hoh sei Ehr, an ornamented chorale prelude. It is, of course, important to carefully consider the ornamentation in such a piece, and Bruce spent much of the time helping Satya shape the trills.
Satya felt very positive about her experience. “What I appreciated most about Bruce’s instruction was his ability to help us turn notes on a page into music. I played my piece with more freedom after the master class because of the encouragement he gave to actually make music. He also helped me with a tempo issue that I’d been struggling with. He was genuinely affirming to each one of us in a way that made up for the terror of playing in front of an audience of peers!”
Finally, as a combination encore and treat for the audience, Una Hwang, who has served as program chair for the past two years, presented Bruce with three tunes, submitted by the three performers. Bruce chose Bingham, a hymn tune submitted by Satya Jaech, and crafted an improvisation based on it.
Spring is here, and we have two meetings remaining for the program year.
Monday, April 16 at Kilworth Chapel UPS at 7:30 p.m. is our masterclass with noted concert organist Bruce Neswick. Those desiring to participate are encouraged to do so and to SIGN UP as soon as possible! We still have open slots, but there is room for only four participants. If you’re not planning to play, do come to watch Bruce work with the class participants and also to perform and improvise.
Our final meeting is a social event at the Thornock residence in University Place. We will install our new officers at this meeting. Come, bring refreshments and good cheer to share. Those who are interested are welcome to try out Paul’s 1974 Helmuth Wolff practice organ: two manuals and pedal with one stop.
Our March meeting was an “organ plus” concert featuring singers and an instrumentalist with organ accompaniment.
Performers included Gwendolyn Taylor, violin, Patricia Hendrix, soprano, Carlyle Jacinto, soprano, and Collin Whitfield, organist. Collin Whitfield is the winner of the 2017-2018 Tacoma AGO scholarship, and studies organ with Tacoma AGO member Paul Tegels. Organ accompaniment was provided by members Una Hwang and Paul Thornock.
The program featured two psalm settings by one of our own–composer and organist David P. Dahl, who was in attendance.