Category Archives: Articles

Tacoma Bach Festival 2024 Season

The Tacoma Bach Festival presents its 2024 Festival from July 26th to 28th. This year’s opening concert, Bach Clavier-Ubüng III features AGO member Wyatt Smith at Kilworth Memorial Chapel on July 26th in a personally curated program from Bach’s magnum opus performed on the Fritts organ and the Wech portative. Trío Guadalevín comes to town on July 27th with a program titled Echoes of Diaspora at Christ Episcopal Church that explores the intersection of Indigenous, African, and European music that define Latin American musical identity. July 28th marks the festival finale, Bach and the Natural World, at Kilworth Memorial Chapel featuring the TBF Orchestra and Chorus in a program that features Bach’s Cantata 187, Esmail’s Even After All This Time, and Berko’s Sacred Place. All concerts are at 7:30 pm.

Tickets are available online or at the door.

For more information visit the festival website.

Steven Zopfi I Artistic Director

Revitalizing Organ Music Beyond Church Walls: A Call to Action

In a recent article, the Seattle Times brought to light a challenging reality – church attendance in the Seattle metropolitan area is lower than in any other part of the country. This trend is alarming beyond spiritual considerations; it threatens a major pillar of our cultural heritage – the organ and its majestic soundscapes.

Indeed, most organs are housed in churches, and if the hallowed pews remain unoccupied, so too do the resonant chambers of these magnificent instruments. Our music, which once filled sanctuaries with ethereal harmonies and profound echoes, now often falls silent. In instances where music does fill a church, it is more often accompanied by the strumming of guitars and beating of drums – a dramatic and deplorable departure from the sophistication and sublimity of organ music.

It is essential for us to understand and address this: the survival of the organ as an instrument is inextricably tied to the context within which it is played. We must strive to assert the organ’s independence and equate it not merely with religion but with its intrinsic musical value, its power to captivate, and its capacity to elicit emotion.

There exist several avenues by which we can catalyze this transition. A primary tool in our arsenal is education. By organizing educational events, particularly targeted at the fertile minds of children, we can engender an appreciation for organ music at a young age. Think “a day at the opera”, only it’s “bring your children to see how an organ works.”

Additionally, aligning organ events with secular observances such as Halloween and July 4th, and arguably Christmas, could imbue these occasions with a classical touch, increasing the visibility and broad appeal of organ music.

Casual gatherings such as “Bring a bag lunch and enjoy 30 minutes of compelling organ music” could also provide a setting that makes organ music more accessible and enticing to the public.

Local chapters of the American Guild of Organists are far from impotent in this regard – in fact, we are key to ensuring a vibrant future for the organ. By actively working to boost the visibility and appeal of organ music, we can stimulate interest and develop a lasting appreciation for this magnificent instrument.

Let’s harness our potential and make a concerted effort toward revitalizing the role of the organ, not only within the hallowed confines of places of worship but also in the wider world of music and cultural events. This will surely contribute to ensuring the organ’s continued relevance and survival. The future of the organ is in our hands, let’s play it right!

A Night of Nostalgia and Musical Mastery at the Paramount Theater

The Tacoma chapter of the American Guild of Organists embarked on a delightful journey into the golden era of silent cinema on January 24, 2024, as members gathered at the historic Paramount Theater in Seattle. The occasion was marked by a screening of the timeless classic “Safety Last,” accompanied by the mesmerizing talents of an accomplished organist.

The Paramount Theater, with its opulent architecture and rich history, provided the perfect backdrop for this cinematic adventure. Attendees were treated to an evening that seamlessly blended the magic of silent film with the enchanting live music from the theater’s magnificent organ.

“The experience was nothing short of magical. The organist’s performance was a true highlight, elevating the entire cinematic journey,” remarked David Dahl, a member of the Tacoma chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

The organist, whose skillful performance set the tone for the entire event, skillfully underscored the on-screen antics of Harold Lloyd in “Safety Last.” The music, a harmonious dance with the visuals, heightened the emotional impact of the film and transported the audience to an era when the organ played an integral role in the cinematic experience.

Members of the American Guild of Organists were unanimous in their praise for the organist’s artistry. The skillful use of the instrument added depth to the silent narrative, creating a symphony of emotions that resonated throughout the theater. The precision and flair with which the organist navigated the intricate plot demonstrated a deep understanding of the synergy between music and film.

The atmosphere within the Paramount Theater was electric, as laughter and gasps echoed through the auditorium. The timeless charm of “Safety Last” combined with the live organ accompaniment created a truly immersive experience, reminding everyone present of the enduring power of silent cinema.

With approximately 75% of the theater’s seats filled, it was evident that the allure of this unique event had captivated a diverse audience. The Tacoma chapter of the American Guild of Organists expressed their gratitude to both the Paramount Theater and the talented organist for collaborating on such a memorable evening.

As the credits rolled and the applause echoed, attendees left the Paramount Theater with a sense of nostalgia and appreciation for the artistry that brought “Safety Last” to life once again. The event served as a poignant reminder of the importance of preserving and celebrating the rich heritage of silent cinema, ensuring that the magic of this bygone era continues to captivate audiences for generations to come.