Happy Spring! This is the last Dean’s letter this season, and this month we will close the program year with our annual student recital. Thanks to the students for their participation this year with their busy school schedule. On and off through the year the students performing this month came to our monthly meetings, and I got to know everyone a little better. What interesting, artistic and intelligent people they all are. For this year, organ students from PLU as well as our scholarship recipient, Amy Castle are the only students from the chapter to perform (maybe with some of our members participating as well). I believe that you know them too, but in case you don’t, I would like to introduce them briefly here.
Amy is a senior at Covenant High School, and she has been taking organ lesson from Jonathan Wohlers for several years. From this fall, she will attend Seattle Pacific University. We have observed her musical growth these three years. Wow… what a talent. We will miss her, but I hope that she will come back to join us at AGO whenever possible since her home is here! There are four PLU organists this semester. Charles is sophomore pursuing a music education degree with a choral emphasis. He plays keyboards on Sunday evenings for University Congregation’s praise team. His passion is singing, and he is a part of PLU’s Choral Union. Wendell recently learned he will be a Seattle AGO scholarship recipient. His former life was as a boat captain for 15 years and now he is working on his nursing degree. He studied organ with Doug Cleveland before coming to PLU where he is a music minor. Jayden is junior majoring English literature with a minor in visual art. When you have a chance, ask her to share her art notebook. Just amazing! Her favorite composers are Debussy and Ravel and she enjoys playing piano, but decided to take organ lessons this year because she like the sound. This is her first year taking organ lessons. Chris is a senior in music education graduating this semester. His plans after PLU are to study music therapy. While at PLU he took piano lessons as well as organ. His introduction to the organ was through our POE Tech! Yay!!! He told me how much he enjoyed our POET! All the night meetings and actual work putting that event together—hearing this from him made me feel all the efforts of those in our chapter who worked on the POET really payed off. We made young people get excited and look at Chris, he knows so much about the organ and he plays beautifully. Again, good job and way to go, Tacoma AGO!!
Thanks, student members for providing music, and non-student members. Let’s simply enjoy music! Thanks everyone for your participation for the AGO in 2016–17. Enjoy your summer and see you in the fall with new program year!
Spring has sprung! There are so many flowers that came out from the ground just in the last few days, happy from all of the rain. Whenever I see the heads of spring flowers coming up from the ground, I feel the love of the people who planted them years ago. What courage they give us… without any words, just quiet in their being. I realized last year that for some reason one of the groups of daffodils around our front cedar trees always shows bigger flowers than the year before. This circle of flowers blooms, dies, sleeps and wakes up, blooming again, bigger every year. Here they are again this year, the most beautiful yet, and so I say my prayers that my music might grow like these flowers. My hope is that the more I come back to study and play a great work, the better and more musical it will become. In March I found myself reading Die kleine Chronik der Anna Magdalena Bach. It is a memory of Bach written by his wife Anna Magdalena. Have any of you read it? I don’t know if it is translated into English, but it is a very easy, casual read. There is not much written about Bach’s music except in the last chapter, but you can learn about Bach as a teacher, a colleague, a husband, a father and as a person from the testimony of his beloved. Interestingly, this time as I was reading I found that I was more interested in Bach as a father. Perhaps becoming a parent has helped me to focus on how to share my life with young lives. It is interesting to think about what part of the book will travel to my heart the next time I come back to it. As I return Anna Magdelena’s book to the shelf, I also say thank you to all the flowers for giving us courage and hope for the future! See you at the next PLU recital by Curt Sather on Sunday, April 9 at 3 p.m. and the reception at David Dahl’s afterwards. And for a real spring garden experience, the Dahl residence is the place to see true beauty of nature in bloom! A treat you don’t want to miss!
Out of blue, one of my very talented pianist friends sent me an e-mail highlighting the fact that there are so many great composers born in March: Vivaldi, Haydn, Telemann, Chopin, Ravel, Mussorgsky, Sarasate, Bartók, and more. Of course, as we all know, J. S. Bach’s birthday is this month, and in celebration there are Bach events/concerts everywhere. Seek one out! It’s a great way to celebrate our greatest composer for the organ. For many of us, Bach’s music is our “meat and potatoes.” My friend’s message went on to say that for people like us, who love Bach, “every month is a Bach month.” And so this year, I’m trying something new: to celebrate a great month of great musicians, I am planning to play and listen to as many March composers as I can. Spring is time for new things, and so I’m excited for new musical discoveries. The days are a little longer now, with a little extra light. It is refreshing and gives me courage to start something new. The dark-rainy winter will be over soon, and now is the time to open up some new boxes for a new spring! Something like…. Jeux d’eau on piano!
Walking our dog is our only outside activity during the winter time. On our daily walks we are beginning to see little evidences of spring on the trees and ground. Spring is coming slowly, but surely. Spring is a time of beginnings, and it has me thinking about how we get our start in music. Have you heard about Orgelkids? It is an educational pipe organ curriculum and kit dreamed up by Dutch organist Lydia Vroegindeweij. Lydia enlisted the help of the organ builder Wim Janssen to build the first and only two Orgelkids kits in existence. A small two rank, 2-octave pipe organ, the Orgelkids kit empowers young children to assemble a working instrument in under an hour. An example of the organ can be found on YouTube, where an impressive young organist, Peter, age 7 plays. He is an active member of the Eugene Chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) and is an enthusiastic ambassador for this organ! His sensitive touch to the organ to create the most beautiful sound is amazing! He obviously knows the mechanism of the organ, and of course is very musical. When you have a minute, check it out. Projects of this type, and young musicians such as Peter benefiting from them, are all about new beginnings — an exciting next chapter in the story of the King of Instruments.
Greetings from Japan! Last night as the clock struck midnight, bringing in a new year, I sat outside listening to the bells ringing from all the temples around letting us know that 2016 had come to its end. We are starting a very new year! In the morning, we took bath with Yuzu oranges and ate a feast of elaborate food full of beautiful symbolism, just like the music of J.S. Bach.
New Years are times for new beginnings, and so I am looking forward to seeing all of you at our joint meeting on Saturday, January 21, 2017, 3 to 5 pm. This January event will be held at Epiphany Parish of Seattle, 1805 38th Ave, Seattle 98122. We will hear the 2016 Martin Pasi and 97 Noack organs. What a treat! Please, don’t miss this opportunity!