Category Archives: Dean’s Message

Monthly dean’s message, shows up on front page under calendar

Subdean’s Message August 2020

Dear chapter members,

During this season of social distancing, most of us are trying to figure out ways to adapt much of our lives into an online modality. It is a challenge, both for individuals and for organizations!

I serve as organist & choirmaster at an Episcopal parish, where we’ve thankfully decided to live-stream rather than pre-record services. No video editing added to my “other duties as assigned”; I get to work with my (carefully spaced) staff singers; and I wear JEANS on Sunday mornings! However, as the months have rolled by, I’ve realized the need to strengthen the congregation’s connection with me, and with the organ. The rector and I settled on a series of “fireside chats”, featuring hymn preludes. I play the chorale, talk a bit about the structure of the prelude, then end with playing it in full. It has been a truly humbling experience; there is nothing like a one-shot take in front of a camera, with ad lib public speaking, to reduce my performing skills by 50%! However, the goal is connection, not perfection. That has been reached, and my efforts are appreciated. On my August to-do list: start memorizing repertoire…

The guild is also working on adapting. On the national level: if you missed the online Organfest, or want to revisit some performances, archived recordings are available. Also on the national website is this Covid 19 response page which has a wealth of resources for guild members, artists and teachers, and musicians in religious institutions.

On the chapter level, your board is working on ways to adapt chapter programs to an online format. Please save Monday, September 21st, for a recorded presentation from Dr. Wyatt Smith, followed by a live Q & A. And, we have a postponed election to take care of—please look for information on electronic voting next month. Here is the proposed slate:

  • Dean: Sheila Bristow
  • Sub-Dean: Cheryl Drewes
  • Secretary and Webmaster: Thomas Clark
  • Treasurer: Sandra Tietjen
  • Member at large: Michael Menne

Lastly, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to our outgoing board member, Cooper Sherry. Cooper’s creativity, wit, and dab hand at hospitality have been a real asset to the chapter. The end of his term coincides nicely with a long-planned sabbatical sojourn to Holden Village. Cooper and his family will be living there in the mountains for six months, beginning in September. Thank you, Cooper, and congratulations!

Subdean’s Message July 2020

Dear chapter members,

We are in what my Episcopal rector calls “the new liturgical season of Covid-tide”. It’s a season of waiting—far longer than the four weeks of Advent! I hope that you are able to find some patience and growth during this time, and please know that the guild is still working behind the scenes to serve you. A few things to note this month:

Board Meeting Monday, July 13th, 7:00 PM

The Tacoma chapter board will be meeting (online) to discuss programming for next year and the postponed chapter election. Please contact me at if

  • you would like to attend (I’ll send the Zoom link)
  • you have programming ideas or needs
  • you have nominations for chapter leadership

Your input and suggestions are very welcome!

Online resources from AGO

The AGO national website has a lot of educational resources. One page you might not make it to is Chapter Leader Toolkits. There have been a number of meetings/presentations about current topics—online streaming in particular—and this page includes recordings of those meetings and supplementary materials.

Upcoming AGO Conventions

The 2020 National Convention in Atlanta, which was to have been next week, has been cancelled. For those who dream of travel, gatherings, and concerts: here are long-term dates, which don’t actually involve much travel!

  • 2021 West Region Convention: Portland, OR July 5-8
  • 2022 National Convention: Seattle, WA July 3-7

Subdean’s Message June 2020

Dear chapter members,

Greetings from your board during these challenging times! Tacoma chapter programs and activities are currently on hiatus, but if you have ideas of things you’d like to see from your chapter–either right now, or for next year–please feel free to contact me.

For those who are able to take this time as a kind of sabbatical/study leave, I commend to you David Dahl’s excellent article on studying Bach cantatas. I’m adding to the study theme with a list of some online resources for continuing education & artistic enjoyment-

Organ Resources

The AGO national website has an education page, which includes classes on many topics, for many levels.

AGO has also entered into a reciprocal agreement with the Royal College of Organists, so we should soon be able to access the RCO educational materials. Pipedreams, the weekly radio broadcast of organ music from American Public Media, has recently-released shows on its website.

Streamed Performances

Seattle’s Pacific Music Works Underground (early music organization) is live streaming on Facebook. Another early music ensemble, Voices of Music, is posting a weekly performance video . For opera fans, Seattle Opera has an online recital series on their website, plus Saturday morning broadcasts on KING FM. Additionally, Metropolitan Opera has a nightly streamed show, and The Royal Opera House is posting videos regularly (opera & ballet).

Resources for Composers

Lastly, as a composer, I’d like to mention a couple of sources for viewing performances of brand-new music: American Composers Forum has all manner of streamed events listed on their calendar, and the British Columbia branch of the Canadian Music Centre has a video performance series of new works for solo performers, “Unaccompanied”.

Handwashingly yours,
Sheila Bristow
Sub Dean

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

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

Dean’s Message July 2018

Good morning, everyone. I am just now back from a fruitful trip to Europe. I have good news that is also bad news. I have just accepted a new position in the eastern United States and need to step down as dean. I was truly looking forward to this fantastic challenge, however, this is an opportunity I cannot turn down. I will miss all of the wonderful colleagues here and my teaching at the University, but I know my family will have a wonderful experience where we are going. I hope to be able to share more details with you in the coming days. All my best wishes for a fantastic guild season.