Category Archives: Dean’s Message

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Dean’s Message April 2023

How wonderful it must have been to hear Mendelssohn’s performance of the organ works of J. S. Bach at Thomas Kirche, Leipzig in 1840. By then, he was a well-traveled, acclaimed composer and performer, a leading organ virtuoso of his time, and a musician with a mission. As he wrote to Fanny while in Paris in 1825:

“You say I should try and convert the people here and teach Onslow and Reicha to love . . . Bach. That is just what I am endeavoring to do. But remember, my dear child, that these people . . . believe Bach to be a mere old-fashioned wig stuffed with learning. The other day, at the request of Kalkbrenner, I played the organ preludes in E minor and A minor. My audience pronounced them both ‘wonderfully pretty,’ and one of them remarked that the beginning of the A minor was very much like a favorite duet in an opera by Monsigny. Anybody might have knocked me down with a feather.”

Fast forward to our March program, “Bach Rediscovered” at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church. We were once again captivated by Mendelssohn’s zeal for Bach by his exquisite programming. I joined Emma Kelly, Sheila Bristow, Michael Plagerman and Wyatt Smith performing pieces chosen by Mendelssohn and placed in perfect order like a flight of the finest wines. Kudos to all for your artistry! Thank you, also to Jan Regier, and Sandy and Dick Tietjen for the elegant reception, to Michael Menne for his CD giveaway, and to St. Andrew’s, Naomi Shiga, and Jonathan Wohlers for their gracious hospitality. It was a truly memorable evening for all!

There is no chapter meeting in April, mindful that preparations for Holy Week and Easter are quickly coming to a peak. May our work be a blessing, and some rest and renewal follow.

Looking ahead, save the date for our field trip to Silent Movie Mondays at the Paramount Theatre, Seattle, on May 8th at 7:00pm. Organist Christian Elliott will accompany the comedy, Exit Smiling (1926). It has become a chapter tradition to meet at the Tacoma Dome to travel by public transportation to Seattle. Group travel plans are posted in the calendar listing.



Dean’s Message March 2023

Kudos! and a huge thank you to Wyatt Smith, who really pulled out all the stops, as they say, for our February chapter event. It was by his inspiration that young organists were given the opportunity to encounter the Fritts organ at PLU up close with his demonstration of the instrument, and by inviting the students to try out the organ for themselves. Ranging in age from 12-27, eight young organists had the chance to experience this monumental instrument together and got to know one another over pizza at Farrelli’s. After lunch, the students returned to Lagerquist Hall for Dexter Kennedy’s superb recital. Watching these young musicians over the course of the afternoon, I truly believe that connections were made, and friendships kindled. Be sure to see Wyatt’s article and pictures on this website and imagine the myriad of ways we can continue to encourage relationships among young organists and cultivate connections among our members of all ages. Our chapter board is excited about exploring the possibilities, and as always, we welcome your ideas!

Looking ahead, we hope you can join us for “Bach Rediscovered,” at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Tacoma, on Monday, March 20, at 7:00pm, This members’ recital recreates Mendelssohn’s all-Bach recital performed at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig in 1840. As Robert Schumann commented on the original event, “We are never finished with Bach.”

Note that we are not scheduling a chapter event for April, anticipating everyone’s busy routines leading up to Holy Week and Easter. Look forward to May and June events still under development; there is still more to come!



Dean’s Message February 2023

I really enjoy the months of January and February, especially as the days grow longer. It feels darn good to settle into a less frenetic routine, well past the holiday season. In this quiet time, what is being planned for the next few months can be anticipated with joy, and past events can be recalled in gratitude.

Our January event, “New Year, New Music” at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Gig Harbor, was particularly memorable. The Rieger organ, installed with added stops by Martin Pasi, has an interesting back story, with organ builder and instrument following the same path, from State University of New York (Purchase) to St. John’s. Dennis Northway performed original compositions to demonstrate the added stops, and chapter members performed music intended for church use. The variety of music revealed the versatility of the organ, and some very lovely solo stops. Martin shared the organ’s history, his impressions along the journey, and fielded many questions. I was encouraged to see so many of us visiting well into the evening, as newcomers mixed right in during the elegant reception. Our deepest thanks to Dennis, Martin, chapter members who performed, and the hospitality committee at St. John. It was truly a great evening!

Looking ahead, we are excited about our “Young Organists’ Event,” Sunday, February 12, at 12:00pm, at Lagerquist Concert Hall. This full afternoon begins with a demonstration of the Fritts organ by Wyatt Smith, and an opportunity for the young organists to try it out for themselves. Then follows a pizza lunch at Farelli’s, a visit to play the Kilgen & Son organ at Trinity Chapel, and a return to PLU for Dexter Kennedy’s concert at 3:00pm. Interested young organists are encouraged to contact Wyatt Smith Adults are also welcome to join the pizza lunch, a chance to get to know the young organists.

We also invite you to “Bach Rediscovered,” at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Tacoma, Monday, March 20, at 7:00pm. Organists Cheryl Drewes, Sheila Bristow, Emma Kelly, Dr. Michael Plagerman, and Dr. Wyatt Smith will recreate Mendelssohn’s all-Bach recital performed at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig in 1840. The program includes the Passacaglia, Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, Schmücke dich, and much more!



Dean’s Message January 2023

So where did the year go? It seems to have flown by, further propelled by the Christmas whirlwind, and now it is January 1st. Cheers to all of us as we begin 2023, having made the best of 2022! I hope all of you who found December a crazy time of church services, holiday concerts, and more, are enjoying a well-deserved time of rest and renewal.

On the cusp of this new year, I am so grateful to our board, who have been working diligently to bring wonderful programs that provide points of connection for colleagues and friends, outreach to the general public, and opportunities for learning and enrichment. I encourage you to scroll through the articles on the Tacoma AGO website. In the narrative and pictures, one is reminded of so many years of great concerts, lectures, picnics, organ tours, master classes, and even caroling accompanied by the Marceau positive organ in the Tacoma Mall! The warmth of community and friendship, cultivated over decades, is so palpable in the images, and new members tell me they notice the vibe right away at our gatherings. Encouraged by this culture of support, I look forward to the work of the new year, alongside a very dedicated board, and wish all of us in the Tacoma AGO a Happy New Year!

Looking ahead, we hope you will join us for “New Year, New Music,” at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Gig Harbor, Monday, January 16th, at 7:00pm, on the newly expanded 1982 Rieger organ, installed by Martin Pasi. Many of us first heard this instrument in November 2021, before the new stops were added. Now we get to experience the completed disposition at this informal and fun event. We invite you to share favorite organ pieces (or excepts), suitable for preludes and postludes. On our website’s event page, click the link to sign up to play. A reception will follow, graciously hosted by St. John’s.

Finally, please keep your eye on the event calendar and your email for announcements about upcoming programs that are currently under development. As always, if you have suggestions along the way, please let us know – new ideas are always welcome!



Dean’s Message December 2022

Well, here it is, the season of Advent and Christmas – expectation, hope, and joy. In the times that we now live in, the narrative takes on poignant meaning, and permeates ordinary life along with everything else that needs to be accomplished. I inevitably find myself squeezed by extra duties and events that come with the season, but I truly enjoy this journey of anticipation, full of wonder. Mindful that your season may be similarly packed, I still hope that you can make room for our upcoming events, unique opportunities to play two notable instruments.

First is our musical Christmas Party 2022 at PLU’s Lagerquist Hall, Monday, December 19th, at 7:00 pm. You are invited to share a favorite Advent or Christmas piece on the stunning Fritts organ. It has always been my belief that every organist should have the opportunity to encounter magnificent instruments – not just to listen to others perform, but to be given ample time to practice and then play in the company of friends and colleagues. Though the organ’s awesome visual presence might be intimidating, know that the supple action and gorgeous sounds are so inviting, and reassuringly comfortable – one is simply inspired by this gracious giant. As an organist and teacher, I’m thrilled that this organ has been made accessible to all of us. On our website’s event page, click “Christmas Party 2022” and then click the links to sign up to play, and to sign up for practice time – up to two hours available!

Second, we invite you to “New Year, New Music,” at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Gig Harbor, Monday, January 16th, at 7:00pm, on the newly expanded 1982 Reiger Orgelblau instrument, installed by Martin Pasi. St. John’s organist, Dr. Dennis Northway, will open the meeting with an introduction to this wonderful organ, which has an intriguing back story. Come to share favorite pieces, or excerpts from pieces, suitable for use as preludes and postludes in the new year. Look forward to hearing a variety of familiar and new works, and take part in the convivial conversation. A reception will follow, graciously hosted by St. John’s. On our website’s event page, click “New Year, New Music” and then click the link to sign up to play.