Category Archives: Articles

St. Andrew’s Organ Series to Open with Christa Rakich

The 2016-2017 concert series at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church opens on October 28 at 7:00 PM with Christa Rakich, director of music at  The Catholic Church of St. Mark the Evangelist in West Hartford, Ct.  She will be playing Bach on organ and harpsichord, including part of the Goldberg Variations.

A prizewinner at international organ competitions (notably Bruges 1976), Rakich has received particular acclaim for her interpretations of the music of J.S. Bach. With keyboardist Peter Sykes, she performed a complete cycle of Bach’s keyboard works in a series of 34 concerts from 2003 to 2005 aptly named “Tuesdays with Sebastian.” Christa Rakich is a founding member of Ensemble Duemila, and performs regularly with the Fanfare Consort. As a soloist, she performs under the aegis of Independent Concert Artists.

The 2016-2017 St. Andrew’s Organ Concert Series poster is attached below.  It can also be downloaded here.  Additional details on the remaining concerts can be found in the Tacoma AGO calendar.


October focus: Clavier-Übung III

Jonathan Ryan presenting the October program
Jonathan Ryan presenting the October program

Our October program was a double feature.  On Sunday, October 09, Tacoma AGO members heard Jonathan Ryan perform Bach’s Clavier-Übung III as part of the Richard D. Moe organ recital series at Pacific Lutheran University.  Then, on Monday, Mr. Ryan spoke on the Clavier-Übung as the program of our October meeting in Kilworth Chapel at the University of Puget Sound.

The program was in two parts, the first being a discussion of the four parts of Bach’s Clavier-Übung, setting the historical context with references to contemporary documents and musical examples.  Mr. Ryan presented musical arguments to support the theory that the Clavier-Übung part III meets the definition of an organ mass.

The second part of the program focused on performance practice, including tempo, registration, and ornamentation.  Mr. Ryan made a point that Bach ‘s use of registration was unusual and controversial in his time, and presented historical references to support unconventional registration.

The handout is attached to this article and available for download.


October program: Bach’s “Clavierübung III”

Our October program is a double feature!  On October 9, at 3:00 PM in Lagerquist Hall, Jonathan Ryan will play Part III of Bach’s Clavierübung.    Because this PLU event is partially sponsored by the AGO, Tacoma AGO members who are under age 55 will get a discounted admission price of $10.  Members who are age 55 or greater already qualify for the PLU Senior Citizen rate of $10.

The following day, on October 10, Mr. Ryan will discuss this work at Kilworth Chapel at 7:30 PM.  His presentation will focus on the work’s  context, genesis, and symbolism.  He will address structure, and style within the movements, with an emphasis on practical application and performance.

Mr. Ryan has the rare distinction of holding six First Prize awards from major international and national organ competitions.  He most notably entered the international spotlight when awarded First Prize in the 2009 Jordan II International Organ Competition, one of the most substantial First Prize awards of any organ competition at the time. He was additionally awarded the only auxiliary prize at the Jordan Competition, the LeTourneau Concerto Prize, given for the best performance of a newly commissioned work for organ and percussion ensemble.  Additional First Prize awards include the 2006 Arthur Poister National Organ Competition, the 2006 John Rodland Scholarship Competition, the 2004 Albert Schweitzer National Organ Competition (Young Professional Division), and the 2003 Augustana Arts-Reuter National Organ Competition.

AGO Website Highlight: The Calendar

If you use any sort of electronic calendar (and, if you don’t, why not?), you may be interested in a new feature of our website that will allow you to incorporate the AGO calendar into the calendar(s) you already use so that you don’t have to update the calendar for AGO events each month.  All changes and new events will be automatically synced to your calendar.

The feature is called “ical feed”–and yes, it arose from Apple’s icalendar, but it now it works with pretty much any electronic calendar system.

If you use Google’s calendar, which you probably do if you have an Android phone, go to and log in.  Use the dropdown box beside “Other Calendars” to “Add by URL” and enter .  Within a few hours, the AGO calendar will be superimposed on all of the clients you are using with Google calendar.

If you are using Apple’s calendar server, you can add the same URL on your iphone or desktop calendar by going to File -> New Calendar Subscription.  It’s easy because Apple developed this protocol.

Even if you are using a stand-alone electronic calendar on your desktop or phone unrelated to Google or Apple, you can still add the Tacoma AGO calendar URL as an additional calendar and it will just work.

Stop trying to match up AGO events to your personal calendar every month!  Subscribe and save time.

Pipe Organs of Istanbul

Turkish Catholic Church

I recently spent two weeks in Istanbul and encountered very little evidence of pipe organs. Instrumental and congregational music are not part of Islamic prayer, so the lack of organs was not surprising. The two Roman Catholic Churches in the Galata district house functional pipe organs which I saw but did not hear (see photos). The Christian Orthodox churches do not have organs.

A Turkish organ
A Turkish organ

One of the universities contains a concert hall with a 6000-pipe organ, but I did not see this one. I do not believe the modern civic concert hall houses an organ. Turkey does not have, obviously, much of an organ culture.

We do know of a 16th century instrument built and installed by English organ builder Thomas Dallam  for the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed III at the behest of Queen Elizabeth. I had read that this was no longer in existence, but while touring the mid-19th century Dolmabahçe Palace I noticed remnants of pipes and organ mechanisms in a large, glass fronted cabinet. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed in the palace. Read more about The Sultan’s pipe organ.

I was in a clock museum and saw a musical clock (such as Haydn and Mozart knew). Most of the internal pipes, however, were crushed.

Curt Sather