July 14, 2021

Dear friends, 

There are a number of exciting items to share with you today!


Grad student at UNT and one of the "20 under 30" named by The Diapason, Destin Wernicke of Pulaski, is giving three area recitals, which the chapter is helping to sponsor.  Please see the attached flyer for more details from Joanne Peterson.  Of particular interest will be the July 21, De Pere, and July 25, Oshkosh, recitals. Finally a live event to attend!  Free-will donation.


The August "surprise," mentioned in my last email, is the opportunity to select items from the library of our dear friend, Marillyn Freeman, who passed away last March.  Those who remember her know that she had vast resources in the way of music and reference materials.  Her husband, Ralph, would like for the chapter to benefit from the collection, and so he is asking folks to take what they can, along with enjoying a visit with him over coffee and cookies.  The date and time are: Saturday, August 28 from  2:00-5:00 at St. Paul Lutheran, 200 N. Commercial St, Neenah.


Finally, as you have (hopefully) noticed, 2021 is The Year of the Young Organist.  We are considering events that will be of interest to not only current members of the AGO, but also to young adults, whom we hope will be joining the ranks....pun intended!  Please help grow the next generation in whatever way you can.  Here are some ideas:


Do you know a young person 30, or under, who could be interested in the organ?  Encourage them to join the AGO for a free membership year (offer til June 30, 2022).  Please see the national website for details and application form.


Also, let them know of our chapter OROCO (Outreach Opportunity for Church Organists) Scholarship, which pays for a year of organ lessons within our chapter. More details are on our chapter website.  Or ask any board member.  I will also forward what our own Jim Fett used at his church.  Watch for a separate forwarded email.


Hoping to catch up with you soon at an event!

Vashni Seitzer


June 14, 2021

Greetings, faithful AGO friends,  

I sincerely hope this letter finds you well, in both body and soul, and getting outdoors as much as possible on these fine days!!


At long last the churches are open(ing) and many things about life these days are looking mostly normal, though it may be a while till churches, in particular, are completely open for outside use.


The Board met June 12 to plan some social events for the summer months, and will move ahead with an optimistic schedule of organ related events for Fall '21 through Spring '22.  Suggestions are most welcome, and can be given through any board members: Nathan Birkholz (Sub-dean), John Kopp (Webpage), Devin Atteln, Jeff Verkuilen, Jim Fett (Treasurer/Secretary), Marianne Chaudoir, Scott Dickson, or myself.


June 29!  Our first event is only two weeks out.  We will Picnic at Pierce Park (1035 W Prospect Ave, Appleton) on Tuesday, June 29.  Bring a chair, BYOD(inner), and come as early as 5:30 pm.  The Appleton City Band plays from 7:00-8:30, if you wish to stay.  I've heard they are quite good! This is an outdoor event, so if it rains, we cancel. Should you have difficulty locating our group, text me: 920.676.8588.


July 21!  AGO Goes to Dinner - 6:00 pm @ Machine Shed Restaurant, 220 N Fox River Dr, Appleton.  Jim Fett is the host.  Watch for his invitation and RSVP to that.


And, for your planning, a save-the-date, of sorts:


August - we are working on a surprise, which we hope will happen in this month.  Stay tuned...


September 10 (Friday) will be our Annual Potluck - 6:00 pm @ Trinity Episcopal in Oshkosh.  


Blessings on your summer!  Hoping for reunion with many of you very soon!

Vashni Seitzer


Sep 08, 2020

Dean's Letter

Vashni Seitzer

Fall greetings to you all!


It has been a very strange, "weird" spring and summer. Certainly this year has been a struggle, both for our society and individuals. It has been a blessing to have free time, but strange to be unsure of what we can do next week.  It was a beautiful summer, but now that comes to a close. We were able to mingle briefly, but then told to distance yet again.  We must continue to have hope in a better tomorrow! Uncertainty abounds, but creativity is looming bright on a horizon of new possibilities in coming together!  Read on for more details.


Even as we have been asked by AGO to continue distancing for a while yet, the NEWAGO Board would like you, our members, to know we are thinking of you and care about EACH of you.  We are here to listen, support, and engage as best as we are able in these trying times, so we invite you to please freely contact us if we can be of help in any way.  During the month of September, as in May, we will once again be reaching out by phone to see how you are doing and offer assistance or guidance.  Your comments and input are also valuable as we strive to move forward in a "new chapter" with our chapter. We value your ability to be a part of our chapter and would hate to lose anyone due to financial hardship.  There ARE funds available through National to cover your membership dues.  Please let us know if you need to use them this year.


Sub-dean, Nathan Birkholz, is putting together a fantastic lineup of virtual events, many of them through AGO, that are sure to interest and encourage everyone as they include many presenters on a variety of topics.  Additionally, we will hope to gather (by ZOOM) either prior or after some of the events.  Watch for a note during the week prior (from a board member) with a link when this is offered. 


Our first event is THIS SATURDAY from Adam Pajan.  Note this is actually 10:00-12:00 CDT!

Saturday, September 12, 2020, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm EDT.  Hymn Playing 101…and 102! This program that will be live streamed, will include a lecture component, masterclass, and end with a performance by Adam. 



Even though hymn playing is the bread and butter of most professional organists’ lives, intentional, elegant hymn playing often takes a back seat to repertoire in the academy. Vierne’s Sixth Symphony is surely a masterwork, but most of us will find ourselves playing Nicaea, Hyfrydol, Duke Street, and Lobe den Herren 50 times to 1 over the fabulously difficult Finale. This workshop will rewind to the basics of hymn playing, seeking to articulate those things already commonly practiced and clearly define an approach to hymnody that places the organist at the forefront of musical leadership. Basic reharmonization techniques and registrational schemes oriented towards making the music come to life will ensure that those who have been playing hymns for five or fifty years will have something new to take home and share with their congregations.

We will have more details on the virtual events soon. Stay tuned...

Vashni Seitzer


Feb 14, 2020

Dean's Letter

Vashni Seitzer

Dear Friends,


Happy February and an early spring…. according to Punxsutawney Phil!  Though there are yet some weeks of winter to be tolerated, this informative edition of the Praeludium will supply some things to ponder as you patiently wait.


Welcome to new members Marisa Landsverk and Christina Kime!  We are thrilled you have joined the AGO and hope to greet you in person at a future event!


2020 got off to a great start with the Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza event on January 25th. Held in Appleton at Faith Lutheran, there were twenty young people who had a chance to observe and try out the organ.  A big thank you to members Jon Peterson, Michael Simonini, Joanne Peterson and Steve Moore for making it happen!  This outreach is so valuable for the next crop of young organists and organ curators.   


Our new social offering, “AGO-Goes-to-Dinner” will take place on Friday, February 28th at 6:30 p.m.  We will meet at The Machine Shed, 220 N Fox River Drive in Appleton.  Everyone is welcome to join us for dutch-treat dinner and conversation.  Ask for the NEW-AGO table.


Mark your calendars for the OROCO Scholarship Fundraising Recital on April 26, 2:00 p.m. at St. Norbert Abbey, De Pere.  Devin Atteln is organizing this important event to raise funds for the Outreach Opportunity for Church Organists Scholarship that our chapter offers on a yearly basis to young people and adults aspiring to service playing.  The public is invited to come and listen to this outstanding organ in an equally stunning space!  If you are interested in playing on the recital, please contact Devin at devin.atteln@gmail.com or 608.343.8339.


The May 8th Banquet with Bruce Bengston will have more dinner details available soon.  You don’t want to miss this highlight!  Save the date!!


Did you know we now have a Facebook page?  This group was created to promote the pipe organs and organ music in Northeastern Wisconsin.  It can serve as a discussion forum, a place to post photos of local organs, and a schedule of local concerts.  The group is meant not only for organists themselves, but also for anyone who appreciates the instrument itself or its music.  Please feel free to invite friends who might be interested. Find us today by searching Northeast Wisconsin American Guild of Organists Chapter.   It will serve to keep both our membership and the general public informed of our chapter activities.  Devin Atteln is moderator.


And finally, for many years, since 1988 to be exact, Marillyn Freeman has been our faithful treasurer through thick and thin.  Due to ongoing health reasons she is now retiring.  We are deeply indebted to her for her keeping of the books and for her faithfulness as a member of the AGO these many years!  Thank you so very much, Marillyn!!


Nominations for the elected position of treasurer are sought by March 1, 2020.  You may nominate any NEW-AGO member in good standing, including yourself.  Board-approved nominations will appear on a ballot that will be sent to each member in April for the final vote.  Please send nominations to the dean via any form of communication.

Stay warm and keep in touch,

Vashni Seitzer

Dean, Northeast WI American Guild of Organists

Jan 11, 2020

Dean's Letter

Vashni Seitzer

Dear Friends,


I trust that most of you survived the holidays and have recovered enough to read this letter – lol – hence the abbreviated length of discussion here!

Attached you will find a link to a very short survey of two items for which we wish to illicit your responses.  Click here, https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LWWYZW3 to answer some questions that will assist the Board on both the May Banquet and additional informal social possibilities that have been suggested.  The last day to participate is January 17.  The survey tells me it should only take about three minutes to complete (!!).

Pedals, Pipes and Pizza is coming to Appleton very soon - January 25.  Encourage any young people ages 9-18 to go!  It’s free!  Click on this link https://www.newago.org/program-events to get more information for this and other upcoming organ events in the area.

Bruce Bengston (our May Banquet speaker) will give a concert at Lawrence University, Appleton on Sunday, January 19 at 3:00 p.m.  More info about his program is available through the above link to our website.


Stay warm and keep in touch,

Vashni Seitzer

Dean, Northeast WI American Guild of Organists

               (920) 676 - 8588

Dec 13, 2019

Dean's Letter

Vashni Seitzer

Dear friends,

Season’s Greetings and welcome to another year of fellowship with one another!  We have much to be thankful for and to celebrate in the next year!


A hearty welcome is extended to new members, Eric Nelson Cox of Appleton and Beverly Barnes Mark of Two Rivers!  We hope you will join us for upcoming events and also hope the chapter can be of great resource to you.


Our year began with the annual Potluck on September 20 in the home of Ralph and Marillyn Freeman, Neenah.  Lovely weather allowed for dining on the porch as we tasted special recipes from the kitchens of about fifteen of our members plus several spouses.  New board members were elected: Vashni Seitzer (Dean), Nathan Birkholz (Subdean), and Jim Fett (Secretary).  Three Board members retired: Jon Peterson (now Past Dean), Marianne Chaudoir (formerly Subdean; now Board Member), and Wendy Dearborn (Secretary).  Their efforts in keeping the chapter alive are greatly appreciated!  We also had opportunity to recycle items donated to our Flea Market.  The free-will donations raised benefit the OROCO Scholarship.


This year’s Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza will be offered from at Faith Lutheran in Appleton on Saturday, January 25th, from 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.  The website has a few extra details, and more will be forthcoming.  Please encourage any young people you may know who are between the ages of 9-18 to register…even if you have to bring them, wink!  Additionally, there need adult helpers – if you can assist, or for more info on the event and registration, contact Jon Peterson (920)731-5797, jpete@new.rr.com or Mike Simonini (920)749-2930, msimonini25@gmail.com.


Your Chapter Officers (Board) for 2019-2020 are as follows:  Vashni Seitzer, Dean; Nathan Birkholz, Subdean/Programming; Jim Fett, Secretary;  Marillyn Freeman, Treasurer; John Kopp, Webmaster/ONCARD and Membership Coordinator; Jeffrey Verkuilen, District Convener; Devin Atteln, Board Member; Michael Simonini, Board Member; Marianne Chaudoir, Board Member; Scott Dickson, Board Member.  I feel privileged to work with this talented group of people who are representing the membership this year!


The Board is working hard to schedule interesting and valuable events for this year and the next.  We value your questions, comments, and concerns.  Please contact any of us if there is something you wish to discuss.  In order to accurately assess your needs, we are developing a couple of short surveys that will soon be sent to determine interest in upcoming events. 


Regarding spring AGO events – if everything falls nicely into place there will be some exciting headlines in the near future.  Until then, save the date - we will hold the ANNUAL Spring Banquet on Friday, May 8 with Bruce Bengston as our special speaker!  Place and time TBA.  We have asked him to talk about his life and work in church music, and he will pass on wisdom gleaned from his vocation.  More details about this and other events will be shared as we have them.

Wishing you a blessed and satisfying Christmas,

Vashni Seitzer

Dean, Northeast WI American Guild of Organists

Oct 09, 2018

Nordic Concert Report

Thatcher Peterson

The sum of $300 for OROCO organ scholarships was donated in free-will offerings at the September 30, 2018, organ recital at First Congregational Church of Oshkosh.


NEW-AGO members, Marianne Chaudoir, John Kopp, and Joanne Peterson performed Norwegian organ music as the kickoff to UW Oshkosh’s week-long Nordic Music Festival. They were joined in a 2017 Danish fanfare by trumpeters Dr. Marty Robinson (UWO faculty) and Adam Decker, new to the area with his MA in trumpet performance.


The practical support for the program was provided by Carmen Shaw and Betty Paterson who baked treats, hosted the reception, and helped clean up afterwards. In honor of the Norwegian focus of the music, Lefse was also served, made in the traditional style with lots of butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Thatcher Peterson was in charge of the Lefse and the extensive program.


Music at First Congregational hosted this recital. It was sponsored by NEW-AGO and also by the UW Oshkosh music department with funding from the American-Scandinavian Foundation; Finlandia Foundation National; and the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation.

Sep 13, 2018

Dean's Letter

Jon Peterson

On Tuesday, February 19, 2019, organist and composer Chelsea Chen will delight audiences with her program filled with transcriptions, including movements from The Planets by Holst and the last movement of Saint-Saëns’ famous Organ Symphony, as she makes her Madison Overture Hall debut. Known internationally as both a tremendous performer and composer, Chelsea will surely endear herself to our audience and will bring her own flair and style to the Mighty Klais.


Tickets for the concert are modestly priced at $20.  We will put out an inquiry in late January of 2019 to determine the level of interest among chapter members.  If the numbers are sufficient, we will look into the possibility of offering group transportation to the event.

Over the last 8+ years, Paul Woelbing, President of Carma Laboratories, Inc. has been assembling one of the largest theatre pipe organs in the Midwest from pipes and parts found across the country.

All of that is not unusually remarkable; what is remarkable is the location of the organ---inside the distribution center warehouse for Carma labs in Franklin, WI !  So while workers are packing little containers of Carmex for shipments all over the world, they are often treated to the fantastic sounds of the old theatre palaces.

We will be scheduling a visit to this amazing installation on a Sunday afternoon in March of next year (2019)  We had tried for a time in October this Fall; however, Paul will be in China and Japan on company business for a good part of October.

Stay tuned for further details, and a confirmed date!

Oct 16, 2017

Dean's Letter

Jon Peterson

My Fellow Guild Members,

Once again we enjoyed the annual potluck at Ralph and Marillyn Freeman’s house on the 22nd of September, also the day of the autumnal equinox. It was a wonderful evening of good food, good friends and good conversations. Ralph and Marillyn have been hosting this event for some 40 years now, and we thank them for their generous hospitality.

This month there is an event to note; a concert at Zion Lutheran in Appleton, featuring Jared Stellmacher and the Gargoyle Brass of Chicago. The theme is music of the Reformation, and will take place on Friday, October 27th at 7:30pm.

On Saturday, November 18th, Naomi Rowley will present "WORKSHOP II FOR NEW & LESS-EXPERIENCED ORGANISTS" at St. Paul Lutheran, Neenah. This workshop will run from 9:30am until noon, and is open to non-chapter individuals, as well, with a fee of $15.00 that can be paid at the door; however, we would like to have an idea of numbers ahead of time. Please encourage anyone you know who is not part of our chapter, but would benefit from this great opportunity. They should contact Marillyn Freeman at rmfreem805@gmail.com or 920-725-6466.

Please bookmark the website for easy access, and refer to it often for the latest up-to-date information about events in our chapter and on the national level, as new items are posted on a regular basis, including programs, events, and postings for positions that have become vacant.

newago.org --- Northeastern Wisconsin American Guild of Organists

A recent addition to the website is the spring OROCO recital which will be held on Sunday, May 6th, 4:00pm, at First Congregational United Church of Christ, Appleton. Following the recital, we will adjourn to Pullman’s restaurant nearby, where we will have an informal gathering for dinner, with everyone ordering off the menu and going Dutch. The board has discussed holding an informal gathering like this one year, and then the following year planning for the traditional banquet format with guest speaker. I welcome your comments.

I hope that you are all well and enjoying preparations for your fall festival services.

Wishing you all the best,

Jon M. Peterson

Dean – Northeastern Wisconsin American Guild of Organists

Apr 24, 2017

Dean's Letter

Jon Peterson

My Fellow Guild Members,

I am still alive, although you may have had your doubts, based upon how long it has been since the last Dean’s Column.

Since the construction of our own chapter website, through the efforts of board member John Kopp, you may have noticed that a monthly Präludium publication is really no longer necessary, due to the capabilities of our site and the ability to immediately publish any news or updates in a more timely fashion.  Our website is where you can access any changes or additions to calendar event listings, churches posting open positions, and other items of interest to members.  This also means that the dean doesn’t have to attempt a column that is meaningful or inspirational every month.

Please bookmark the website for easy access, and refer to it often for the latest up-to-date information about events in our chapter and on the national level.

newago.org --- Northeastern Wisconsin American Guild of Organists

The Annual Banquet scheduled for May 19th has been cancelled, since the total number who responded with an affirmative for attendance was very low.  The board will be discussing the future of the banquet at our next meeting, and we will likely be requesting your further input about the banquet going forward.

We encourage you to attend the recital featuring performances by recipients of our OROCO Scholarship on Sunday, May 7th, 2:00pm at Trinity Episcopal Church, 311 Division Street, Oshkosh.  I remind you of Jeff Verkuilen’s recent requests for member participation in the program.  After the recital, we will have the opportunity for an informal get-together at a nearby restaurant for dinner.  Stay tuned for details about that.

I have been thinking lately about the importance of our role in the worship life of the congregations that we serve.  At Faith Lutheran in Appleton we (lion’s share of that “we” work done by Steve Moore) have recently done a great deal of work on assessing the need for improving the acoustics of our sanctuary, and what that would mean for our members’ worship experience.

As you know, acoustical properties of a room have a major impact on the experience of the worship that takes place in that space.  The average member in the pew, however, finds the concept a difficult one to comprehend.  Indeed, even those who normally sit in the chancel area during the service have difficulty with the concept.  The fact that a tenth of a second in reverberation time can be detected by the average listener, still doesn’t really mean much to them, sense they are most often unaware of why they hear a difference from one setting to another.

I could continue on this topic for some time, but turn now to the need or reason for those good acoustics in our worship spaces.  Lutherans have a fantastic reminder of this reason as they celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, which essentially marks the beginning of what we recognize today as corporate worship.  Yes, I know, it actually began in the early part of Old Testament times, continuing with additional emphasis throughout the New Testament.

We gather to hear the Word, pray and confess our faith, and sing hymns that either contain the Word or emphasize its teachings.  It is that spoken word and the singing that we do together, that makes our worship meaningful, and strengthens or renews our faith.

That brings me back to my thoughts of late.  We truly have an awesome responsibility as we lead that singing.  It is the most important thing that we do/play during the service; more important than preludes and postludes and voluntaries.  I know that sometimes, I forget about that in my hymn preparations, especially when it is a hymn that I have played forever (or for 50 years anyway, which is how long I have been a church organist, beginning at age 14).

To that end I am sharing with you this text of a lecture given at Oberlin College in 1992 by Miriam Clapp Duncan, Professor Emerita of Lawrence University at a gathering of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada.  I am sure that Frank has shared this in the past, but it is worthy of a repeat.  It explains clearly why, when I began studying with her in 1974, even though I had already been playing worship services for 8 years, she began not with Bach, or Langlais, or Reger---but with hymns.


Jon M. Peterson

Dean – Northeastern Wisconsin American Guild of Organists

Mar 17, 2017

Pipe Organ Encounter in Seattle

Wyatt Smith

The Seattle Chapter of the American Guild of Organists is excited to be hosting a Pipe Organ Encounter-Advanced from July 23-28 on the beautiful campus of Seattle Pacific University in Seattle, Washington. The POE-Advanced differs from a regular POE, as prospective students must submit a recording with their application. As a former POE attendee myself, this POEA is great place to meet people your age with the same interest -- the organ -- but also to meet people from different backgrounds, and ones who might approach the organ differently from you.

Our discount registration deadline is Saturday, April 1, 2017. All applications must be received by Monday May 1, 2017 to be considered for the POE-Advanced in Seattle. If you are in need of a scholarship to attend a POE, please apply soon, as the deadline for scholarships is Saturday, April 15, 2017.
We are excited to feature a fantastic line-up of faculty members, including: Norma Aamodt-Nelson, Joseph Adam, Barbara Baird, Douglas Cleveland, Renée Anne Louprette, Dana Robinson, Paul Tegels, and Carole Terry, along with associate faculty member Michael Kleinschmidt.
The instruments that are going to be featured during the Seattle POEA feature a wide range of both new and historically-important instruments in Seattle and Tacoma, including organs built by Flentrop, Pasi, Rosales, Hutchings-Votey, Noack, Fisk, Fritts, Brombaugh. We have recently added a visit to a historic Wurlitzer here in Seattle as part of the POEA program. 
The week will include practice time on various instruments throughout Seattle. Classes will be offered on topics such as physiology of keyboard playing, improvisation, service playing, pedal technique, and theatre organ. Various faculty members will teach two masterclasses: one will focus on German Baroque music, while the other will center on music from the French Romantic repertoire. Finally, the week will include performances by many of the faculty members, along with two closing POEA student recitals. 
Registration for the Seattle POEA is found online only at https://www.agohq.org/education/poe/poe-advanced/. I encourage you to register early, prior to the "early bird" deadline of April 1, 2017. The brochure for the Seattle POEA can be found at http://agoseattle.com/LinkedDocs/POEABrochure.pdf. For more information in general, please visit the Seattle POEA website at http://agoseattle.com/poea2017.html. 
If you should have any questions about the Seattle POEA, please direct emails to Wyatt Smith at smithwd2009@gmail.com.
Wyatt Smith
Director, Seattle POEA
(605) 430-3120

Mar 17, 2017

Organ Historical Society Convention in Minnesota

Michael Barone

Dear AGO Friends,


I realize that a North Central Regional AGO convention is coming up in June (and I’m likely to see many of you there), but I’d also like to pass on this friendly reminder of the upcoming Organ Historical Society Convention (of which I am co-chair) here in Minnesota, August 5-11.






We’ve put together what we hope you’ll agree is an interesting program of varied instruments and exceptional performing talents.  We’ll cover both of the Twin Cities as well as regions to the northwest (Collegeville, Richmond, Freeport, Luxemburg, Cold Spring) and southwest (Mankato/New Ulm/Saint Peter), plus offer pre- and post-convention ‘extra days’ in Wisconsin (Menomonie and Hudson) and Duluth that you’ll not want to miss.


And if you stay through to the end, we’ve added an extra-extra on Saturday morning (August 12), a unique visit to the reconstituted Northrop Auditorium at the University of Minnesota, where the famous 1932-1935 Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ of 108-ranks is being reinstalled by Foley-Baker.  In addition to an audio-visual ‘history’ of this important instrument, you’ll have a chance to climb up into the new chambers, and hear this monumental ‘work in progress’ at close range.


I encourage you to share awareness of and information about this Convention far and wide (please send the message out through your chapter email contacts, and post the links on your website), and that you and your colleagues and friends of your chapters will plan to attend the OHS Convention, in part or whole.


Single-Day registrations, which include transportation and meals (see schedule for specifics), will be available, and individual admission to daytime events will be limited only to OHS registrants and local parishioners.  But the best experience is ‘the whole nine yards’...come early and stay late!  J


Thanks for your collegial promotional help.  We’re all in this together…to foster enjoyment and appreciation of the King of Instruments, the pipe organ!




Michael Barone


Dec 17, 2016

Competition Deadlines

Marilyn Schempp, North Central Reginal Councilor

The Pogorzelski – Yankee Scholarship online application period begins January 1, 2017; the deadline for submission is February, 15, 2017.


Online applications for competitors are now being accepted for the 2017 AGO/Quimby Regional Competitions for Young Organists; application deadline is January 15, 2017.  We currently have four chapters hosting local competitions:  the Twin Cities, Wichita, Lincoln, and Milwaukee.  They all would love to have competitors for their competitions!


Online applications for competitors are now being accepted for the 2018 National Competition in Organ Improvisation; the application deadline is January 2, 2017.


Online applications for young composers are now being accepted for the AGOYO North Central Young Composers Competition; deadline is March 10, 2017.  This is new this year and a huge project that our North Central AGOYO division is undertaking.  The winning composition will be played at our regional convention this summer in Iowa City/Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Please let all of those under 30 composers that you may be aware of know about this.

Nov 30, 2016

Lutheran Summer Music Academy & Festival

Jon Peterson

Young Organists Encouraged to Apply for Lutheran Summer Music Academy & Festival


(Minneapolis, MN) Lutheran Music Program has selected Kenneth Miller to serve as the Regina Holmen Fryxell and Patricia Schad Leege Chapel Organist at the 2017 Lutheran Summer Music Academy & Festival (LSM) from June 25th to July 23rd on the campus of Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana. Miller currently serves as Assistant Professor of Church Music and Organist and Choirmaster of the Chapel of the Apostles at the School of Theology at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN.


As a member of the artistic faculty, Miller will maintain a private organ studio, teach the Introduction to Pipe Organ elective class, and serve as a member of the LSM worship team. In addition to serving as primary organist for all LSM worship services, Miller will also perform as a soloist and with the LSM Bach Cantata.


Lutheran Summer Music is a four-week residential training and performance program. Each summer, LSM brings together 150+ 8-12 grade band, orchestra, choir, keyboard and organ students from the U.S. and abroad in a supportive, intentional community. 

AGO members from the NE Wisconsin Chapter are invited to refer students for the 2017 convening of Lutheran Summer Music Academy.  All students using the application code AGO200 will receive an automatic $200 tuition discount.  Other merit and need-based assistance is available.


For more information, go to lutheransummermusic.org or contact Dietrich Jessen and Kristina Rodel, Admissions Directors at 888.635.6583 or email at admissions@lutheransummermusic.org.

Nov 25, 2016

Notes from the Dean

Jon Peterson

As I looked back through the list of Deans from the beginning of the chapter’s history, I felt honored to be able to serve as your new Dean. We have been fortunate to have had so many faithful and talented leaders over the years, including our most recent Dean, Joanne Peterson, who served a double term.  We thank her for her dedication to the chapter in all that she has done, and the high level of musicianship that she always shares, shaped by a wealth of experiences.

We also extend our thanks for the dedicated work of our past board member and membership director, Elizabeth Mazurak, who moved with husband Peter to Monticello, Il in early summer. They are enjoying being just a few houses away from their daughter, her husband and the grandchildren. I’ve known Elizabeth for many years; since the beginning of my teaching career at FVL, and have always appreciated her musicianship and her friendship. We miss you, Elizabeth, but wish you and Peter many enjoyable years ahead with your family close by.

This past October 22nd we enjoyed a very useful workshop by Catherine Rodland of St. Olaf. She showcased some new and “tried & true” ideas for Lent and Easter organ music. Marianne Chaudoir hosted the event at Trinity Episcopal Church in Oshkosh. I would encourage members to take advantage of these guild chapter programs when you are able.

If I am being honest with you, I have to admit that I was disappointed in the attendance. Maybe we are all just so busy nowadays; or maybe we (the board) aren’t planning events that are meaningful to the membership. Either way, I would like to hear from you with any ideas that you may have for us to consider, for programs in the 2017-18 chapter year. Please include any possible names of clinicians along with those ideas, and send them to me by the end of January, 2017. I will give you periodic reminders.

I wish you blessings for good health and meaningful church music programs as we all head into the 5-week whirlwind of the Christmas Season!

Sep 03, 2016

Dean's Letter

Joanne Peterson

September brings the NEW-AGO Potluck at Marillyn & Ralph Freeman’s home at 805 Cecil Street in Neenah. The time is 6:30 p.m.  Bring your favorite dish to share. And also bring anyone interested in the world of organ and of church music.

We have a lot of catching up to do. And, we’ll have a brief business meeting to elect new Board members and officers.

As I wrap up my second term as your Dean, I get to look both backwards and forward.  Looking backwards, I see the variety of interesting and meaty programs that our Chapter has sponsored.  I also see the support and encouragement that we give each other in the important work we do.  Looking forward, I see the continuing challenge of using our imagination and musicianship to provide the leadership in church music.  Nothing supports a church service like an organ.

And, looking forward again, please mark your calendar for the 2016-2017 Program Events

Random events guide life. By the coincidence of Thatcher helping strangers at a dock at the landing we use at Rainy Lake, and then inviting them over to dinner, I met a church organist from Fergus Falls, Minnesota.  We’ve become friends.  Like me, she is leaving the beauty of the lake to tend to her congregation.  She said to me, “This is the way I worship.” 

Take care, everyone!  See you at Marillyn’s.

Aug 13, 2016

Highlights from the Organ Historical Society's 2016 Convention

Naomi Rowley

The Organ Historical Society’s annual national convention was held in Philadelphia from June 26 to July 1. The following highlights are reflections from June 27-29, the three days I attended.

This was the sixtieth anniversary of the OHS, an organization which celebrates, preserves and studies the pipe organ in America in all its historic styles through research, education, advocacy and music.  The convention attracted a great deal of interest!  Out of necessity convention registration was closed at slightly over 500 since no more people could be accommodated for the daytime events.  Registrants were organists as well as organ enthusiasts who came from many of the States as well as Australia, Canada, France, Germany and Great Britain.  I was inspired, impressed and invigorated by the entire experience.

INSPIRED—It was very inspiring to hear recitals on a rich variety of instruments in the greater Philadelphia area.  They included pipe organs in historical churches such as Old Pine Street Presbyterian and St. Peter’s Church; both pre-date the American Revolution.  A special attraction was the famous Wannamaker pipe organ which has 28,482 pipes and a console with six manuals (keyboards) and pedal board!  Another memorable instrument was the Aeolian-Skinner located in the ceiling of the Girard College Chapel!  Equally impressive was the instrument by Dobson built just ten years ago for Verizon Hall, the home of the Philadelphia Orchestra.  A demonstration recital was performed at each of the instruments visited, and major concerts occurred each evening.

It is an OHS tradition to sing a hymn at each recital of the convention.  Since the singing is always very enthusiastic, it prompted the publication of a special convention hymnbook, a collection of settings by organists and choral conductors who had lived and worked in Philadelphia the last 250 years. 

IMPRESSED—Each venue featured a different performer; each showcased the virtues of the instrument at hand in a very convincing matter.  I was especially impressed by the high caliber of playing by the younger recitalists. One is currently on a five-year program at Rice University in Houston, studying with Ken Cowan.  Several others were from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.  

There were also outstanding professional artists including Nathan Laube, internationally famous concert organist, as well as Peter Conte, Grand Court Organist of the Wannamaker Organ. 

It was also impressive to note the interest of young people in the conference.  The number of young adults who registered as Biggs Scholars was 24, the highest of any OHS convention to date!  The youngest convention registrant was from Colorado Springs and only 10 years old!   He came with his father, also an organist, and will begin lessons in the near future.

INVIGORATING--One of the additional benefits of attending conventions is the opportunity to renew old friendships and cultivate new ones.  It is invigorating and energizing! There was ample time for conversation on the long bus rides between venues.  For me, it was a pleasure to see familiar faces from Virginia, Hawaii, Iowa, Wisconsin and other locations, and have a moment to chat.  Among the many treasured conversations I had with new acquaintances included those with Mary, a music librarian from the Library of Congress in Washington, D. C., as well as Isaiah, an Afro-American Church musician from Cincinnati.  

The 2017 national OHS Convention will be held next summer in the Twin Cities!  It undoubtedly will inspire, impress and invigorate all who attend!

May 01, 2016

Dean's Letter

Joanne Peterson

As we head into summer with the first blast of warm weather, your board will be planning for the 2016-17 season. Please let me or any of our board members know if you’d like a program on any particular subject.

The OROCO fundraising recital in Green Bay raised about $800. Keep your eyes open for church pianists who should take organ lessons, and let them know about the OROCO scholarship program. For more information, please contact Marillyn Freeman.

Frank Rippl’s noontime pipe organ series takes off for the 21st season now: a nice touch, 21 organists play over the summer in different churches. The concerts run from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. We understand that Frank’s summer series is the largest of its kind in the U.S.

For a treat on a summer evening, plan to attend Buster Keaton in the silent movie, “The Cameraman.” Frank provides the drama with the dandy organ at the Houdini Museum across from All Saints. Show time is 6:30 p.m. Thatcher and I have been attending, and find them fascinating and fun.  On Monday, October 24, 2016, see the 1922 “The Prisoner of Zenda” with Ramon Navaro and Lewis Stone. We can hardly wait.

The Fall Potluck is set for Friday, September 23, 2016. Marillyn and Ralph Freeman again host. Please put the date on your calendar now.

Summertime, and the music is easy. In addition to the weekly noontime organ recitals, at 7 p.m., Saturday, June 11, 2016, Trio Lago Verde takes to the stage at Harper Hall at Lawrence for a free concert.

 Appleton violinist, Emily Hauer (age 14) joins with contemporaries on cello and piano to present an evening of chamber music. The trio was featured on NPR’s “From the Top.” “Lago Verde” translates into Green Lake. This trio of exceptional musicians met last summer at the Green Lake Festival of Music’s chamber music camp. Check out GLF’s website for list of concerts in June and July, starting with June 10. 

Speaking of things Green, the GLF is sponsoring an opportunity for singers to join together to perform Faure’s Requiem. Stephen Alltop will conduct. It is scheduled for Wednesday, July 13, 2016, at First Congregational Church in Oshkosh (137 Algoma Blvd). Please let your choirs know about this.I’m attaching some information about the Requiem.

This will be my last Dean’s Letter, since my term is coming to a close. Enjoy your summer, take a break from the grind of weekly responsibilities, and we’ll look forward to seeing each other on September 23rd, when the frost will be thinking about getting on the pumpkin.

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