Dear chapter members,
I work for a variety of organizations who are all figuring out how to plan for 2021/22 during this still-uncertain time in public health. Some are tentatively reopening; some are planning to tentatively reopen; and some are firmly welcoming back in-person music. It’s a challenge to adapt to changing information and policies, particularly when the music is often run by and for groups of volunteers. They do not always pivot quickly!
One challenge at the Episcopal church where I am music director, is reminding folks that there are unvaccinated souls all around them—children under twelve. I am constantly on the lookout for useful language regarding mask policies, and I plan to appropriate a couple of sentences from a recent email from PLU’s Office of the President:
This week, the CDC, Gov. Jay Inslee, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department announced their recommendations that individuals who are vaccinated mask indoors in some circumstances to help mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant in Washington, including in Pierce County.
As community members concerned about our role in public health overall, we encourage vaccinated Lutes to follow this guidance and mask up whenever you are in public indoor spaces or are unaware of the vaccination status of those around you. Masks add another layer of protection to what vaccination has already given you, so whether you’re vaccinated or not, masking up helps prevent transmission.
Your AGO board is fervently hoping to have in-person meetings this year, but of course it depends on public health guidelines. We have some great ideas for the program year, and will publicize them when we know for sure what is safe! For now: please save the date for a Welcome Back Picnic, in the lovely garden of David Dahl’s home in Parkland. I hope to see you on Monday, Sept 13th, between 4:30 and 7:30 PM. Until then—wishing a safe, and lovely, rest of the summer!
Dear chapter members,
For many organizations July is actually the beginning of a new year (at least for the budget). AGO has proclaimed this is the Year of the Young Organist, and I want to make sure you are aware of some opportunities—for yourself or for young organists in your circle.
On the national level, dues are free this year for new or renewing members under 30, and there are also a variety of programs throughout the year designed for young organists. More information is available at
Also, the AGO Committee on Pipe Organ Encounters is offering the first ever Virtual POE for teenagers. It’s from Sunday, July 18–Friday, July 23, and the registration deadline is July 5 (with a cost of $95). More information is available at
At the local level, Tacoma Chapter is sponsoring scholarships for students studying with TAGO members. Preference is given to young organists, but there is no age limit. Application materials include an essay, recording, and teacher recommendation. Those are due on August 1st. More information is available at
And, we are working on program planning which will reach out to younger members—of the guild or of the public. If you have ideas you’d like to be considered, please send me a note.
As we enter the summer season, I hope you are staying cool and safe during this unseasonable weather. As someone who grew up in this area, I never thought I’d complain about too much sunshine in June! With temperatures well over 100 last weekend, a friend suggested I drink Gatorade at my church jobs. I had thoughts of other beverages running through my head…but at work it’s ice water all the way. Cheers!
Dear chapter members,
As I look out my window at sunshine on this Memorial Day Weekend, it’s a great reminder that summer is coming. For organists, it is (hopefully) a season of renewal, when one can take time for some professional development work—and just take some time off.
Regarding professional development, congratulations to Erica Minneman for passing her Service Playing Exam with flying colors! It takes a lot of discipline to gear up for the exams, but she said the preparation was fruitful.
Two summer educational opportunities worth mentioning:
Oberlin College’s Organ Academy
Sweelinck Studies: June 14-19, 2021 and Summer Institute: June 20-25, 2021. More information is attached at the end of this article.
AGO’s Organfest 2021
As this summer’s regional conventions are cancelled, the guild is once again presenting a summer festival of concerts, June 27-July 2. There are also workshops and discussions.
And, at this close of the program year, I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to the board for their service in this year+ of adaptation! In particular, Cheryl Drewes has been tenacious and creative in coordinating programming, and Tom Clark keeps the trains running on time. Onwards!
Dear chapter members,
During the continuing pandemic journey, I’ve been keeping track of how technology has helped and hindered my connection with colleagues and professional development. Business meetings on Zoom? Love the commute time saved, but miss the socializing. A bevy of educational webinars available? Wonderful when they have a topic, but I’ve banned from my schedule anything that looks to be an hour of a speaker talking about…themselves.
I’ve always had a large measure of ambivalence toward social media in general, and their parent companies in particular. However, this year has made me really appreciate the professional associations on Facebook. Along with several chapter members, I’m in the Facebook Organists’ Association, and enjoy a fascinating variety of topics from around the world. I also get a full-throated blast of of professional concerns and thorny musical concerns from The Collaborative Pianists’ Community. Most recently, I’ve joined the Herbert Howells appreciation society and the Choral Evensong Appreciation Society. I look forward to the day when my newsfeed has more arguments over evening canticles than over politics!
Our own chapter has done a wonderful job of creating educational programming this year, and I am deeply grateful everyone who has volunteered their time. And I hope to see you all (with the aid of technology) at our final chapter meeting on May 10th!
Like many of you, I’ve worked hard to manage/pivot/salvage my life during pandemic times. I added a new (third!) church job to replace lost freelance work; I now have composition lessons via Zoom; and I’ve revamped my household’s organization, from dinner planning to Netflix viewing (NOT every night!). Despite these efforts and intentions, this spring has been difficult. There have been a lot of one-year reminders, including the date of my last live concert and a second Easter without parishioners.
I know I’m not alone in this very real fatigue. I don’t have the answer, but am trying to pay attention to signs of hope and renewal. These range from smelling spring flowers to intentionally enjoying opera rehearsals at PLU. Die Fledermaus outdoors is a new, weather-filled experience—yet joyous!
I was also heartened to hear that a parishioner was moved to tears by the music for Palm Sunday. While it’s a compliment to the music program, it is also a testament to this person’s commitment to stay connected to their faith despite distance and the challenges of technology. I am now trying to keep in mind that “great cloud of witnesses”—not the faithful departed, but those online. I suspect more on this topic will come up at our April 19th meeting, in which Kyle Haugen will present “The Cantor’s Work in Pandemic Times”. Hope to see you there!