Category Archives: Articles

An Organist’s Perspective on COVID-19

For our entire forty-plus year careers in church music, Tim and I have always served different congregations, as we do currently. We live in Auburn, and several times each week, I travel 23 miles south to Spanaway Lutheran, and he 34 miles north to St. Andrew’s Episcopal, Seattle. We cherish being in community with both of our congregations, yet we never get to collaborate musically, nor experience worship together. But now, we along with all of our colleagues, are dutifully following the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, and Tim and I for the first time ever, have been busy collaborating in an effort to bring community through music to both of our churches remotely.

The technological learning curve was steep, making Holy Week even more stressful than usual, but we have now become comfortable with multi-track video recording, and have hit our stride. What does this collaboration look like? Tim takes the cantor role and I provide accompaniment on piano, reed organ and harpsichord. We discover all the neglected instruments laying around the house: tuba, harp, penny whistle, recorders. All manner of duets on all instruments, plus the addition of other remote musicians by the wonder of multi-track recording, have been a delightful adventure, and we hope a measure of comfort to our church communities.

The COVID-19 pandamic is terrifying; my heart aches for the world, and for friends and family as they try to cope with the current, sometimes grim, reality. At the same time, Tim and I try to stay in the moment – music, cooking, gardening, walks rainy and sunny, staying in touch with family and friends, prayer. We find the most gracious moment serving both of our churches from afar, together in faith, hopeful for the “joy that comes in the morning.” We miss all of you, and long for the day that we are able to be together. Stay well, friends!

Cheryl Drewes

Cheryl and Tim Drewes demonstrating a live-streamed performance from home

Subdean’s Message May 2020

Dear chapter members,

I would normally be writing a note about upcoming chapter meetings and organ performances. This is not a normal time! However, I would like to bring your attention to Saint Mark’s Cathedral’s livestream of the annual All-Bach On the Flentrop. Michael Kleinschmidt will be performing and offering commentary from the console on Friday, May 8th, at 7:30 PM. More information is available at https://saintmarks.org/music-arts/music-series.

This is a time of great personal and professional upheaval for all musicians. My primary church job, Organist & Choirmaster at Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, has thankfully continued with streamed services. Only staff are allowed in the building, but morning prayer is led by the rector, myself, and two well-spaced cantors. (My pre-service warm up time now includes a LOT of wiping of doorknobs and light switches before I get to the bench!) I’m trying to use the enforced break from my other musical jobs as a kind of sabbatical, including spending more time on music composition. Last week I finished a trumpet and bassoon duet (an almost Hindemith-worthy combination!) for a couple in Orchestra Seattle. It will be premiered online, along with other new music written to celebrate the group’s 50th anniversary and annual auction.

I’ve asked other board members to contribute articles about how they are dealing with the quarantine, and there are some wonderful ideas forthcoming. Please see Cheryl Drewes’ article , the beginning of an ongoing series—as we continue in an ongoing situation.

Sheila Bristow
Sub Dean

Chapter Elections Postponed

Noting that many organists are under increased stress due to having to develop online alternatives to church or dealing with other impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, your board has voted to postpone Chapter elections. The present slate of officers and members of the executive committee will continue until such time as we can resume chapter meetings.

March Newsletter Extra Edition: Two Programs

March brings us two great programs, both of which are highlighted in the extra edition of our March newsletter.

The Seattle Chapter is sponsoring Rodney Gehrke, organist, at Gethsemane Lutheran Church on March 22. For details, see the accompanying article written by Tacoma AGO member Una Hwang, organist at Gethsemane Lutheran.

Emphasizing our role in choral music, the Tacoma Chapter is sponsoring a workshop with choral director Brian Galante on March 16. For details, see the accompanying article written by Tacoma Chapter Subdean Sheila Bristow.

There is still time to put in your request for a specific choral work to be included in the workshop. Go to this URL and make your request!