Utah Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists
Newsletter • February 2023

Engage, Support, and Uplift Every Organist!
In this issue:
  • Dean's Message
  • Upcoming Activities
  • Welcome and Thanks
  • Utah Valley Pipe Organs Highlight: Provo East Stake Center
  • Musical Adventures in Jerusalem
  • BYU Organ Workshops
  • Eccles Organ Festival 
  • Tabernacle Virtuoso Performance Series 
  • Piping Up! Online Organ Concerts at Temple Square
  • We Value Your Membership
Dean's Message

Last month our chapter had the chance to play the Salt Lake Tabernacle organ. It was a great opportunity, and we are grateful to the Tabernacle staff for allowing us this privilege.
We are fortunate to have one of the world’s greatest pipe organs so near to us. While playing it is a rare privilege, we can also attend the daily recitals (a tradition that goes back over a hundred years), attend the new Virtuoso series that is held quarterly, or watch a performance on the Internet. There are also other recital series held on magnificent organs near us. Surely, we are blessed to live in an area where fine organ music is so readily available.
While the organs we play on a regular basis may not be as famous or magnificent, we can still use them to make a significant contribution to those who worship with us. It would be my hope that we prepare for each service as carefully as if we were to be playing on one of the world’s great organs. The organ has a unique ability, if played properly, to uplift and encourage those who listen and point them towards a greater good. It is not the size or the fame of the instrument that ultimately matters. Instead, it’s the degree of preparation and the heart full of service that makes our playing truly great.

Super Saturday is our chapter’s gift to the growing community of church organists in Utah Valley and beyond. This free training day, held April 29, 2023 in the new Music Building on the campus of Brigham Young University, is open to the public to learn more about the organ and to be inspired to improve organ-playing skills.

Super Saturday would not be possible without volunteers like you! Please consider volunteering your time and talents on April 29th. We are currently seeking volunteers to help with all aspects of Super Saturday, from manning the registration table to teaching lessons and classes. If you are willing to help, please sign up via this link by February 14th:

Thank you so much for your willingness to serve the local organ community!

Harold Stuart

Upcoming events

RSVP required! Please respond by February 18th 

  • Piano and organ students are invited to attend the annual Pedals, Pipes and Pizza event at the Provo Central Stake Center from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. on February 25. 

  • This event is designed to introduce youth and children to the pipe organ and in a relaxed and safe environment and give them a close-up look at how this instrument works. Our pipe organ guide will be David Chamberlain from Bigelow Organs. 

  • If students have any music they would like to try on the organ, they are encouraged to bring sheet music with them.

  • Following the demonstration, pizza will be served

Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza RSVP
Sign up to play in the Bach & Baroque Recital

Super Saturday is our chapter’s gift to the growing community of church organists in Utah Valley and beyond. This free training day, held April 29, 2023 in the new Music Building on the campus of Brigham Young University, is open to the public to learn more about the organ and to be inspired to improve organ-playing skills. If you are a pianist wishing to try the organ, someone called to play for church services, or an advanced organist with the desire to meet with others who share your love for music, this workshop is for you!

Super Saturday begins with a keynote address by local organist, choral director and composer James Kasen, followed by several break-out sessions, and concludes with a hymn sing. Classes are offered on varied topics geared towards youth, beginning, intermediate and advanced organists. We invite all to come and enjoy!  Admission is free.

Super Saturday would not be possible without volunteers like you! Please consider volunteering your time and talents on April 29th. We are currently seeking volunteers to help with all aspects of Super Saturday, from manning the registration table to teaching lessons and classes. If you are willing to help, please sign up via this link by February 14th:

Thank you so much for your willingness to serve the local organ community!

  • Welcome new chapter member, Alena Hall!
  • Many thanks to the Tabernacle organists and staff for hosting the chapter organ crawl in January! 
Utah Valley Pipe Organs Highlight: Provo East Stake Center
by Blaine Olson
The Provo East Stake building (667 North 600 East) reopens after years-long remodel project. The 9-rank Wicks organ had been in storage (by Anderson Organ Works) for many months while the entire stake center underwent massive remodeling and upgrading, with new furnaces and air conditioning a top priority. The newly remodeled chapel is stunningly beautiful and has acoustics that tend to favor music (although this natural reverb does make listening to the sermon a little more difficult).  With so much attention to massive refurbishing to the building, I was surprised (and disappointed) that the organ itself was not retrofitted with digital voices to supplement the pipe voices that were incorporated into the organ at its inception in 1962. There were no added 32' Pedal stops, and apparently no digital voices added either.

The overall voicing is on the soft side, with gentle voices throughout. (Perhaps too gentle?)  The action seemed a little slow to me, and the release of notes was also slow. This is quite unusual for "Direct Electric" action!  This makes the organ a little more difficult to play on rapid passages, but at least it has a decent 8' Principal and independent 4' Prestant in the Great.  (The 2' Fifteenth is borrowed from the 4' Prestant). There are 3 unexpressed ranks in the Great:  the 8' Principal, 8' Dolce, and 4' Prestant. All other ranks are in the Swell box (including the 8' Hohl Flute of the Great). It is interesting that this organ has a 3-rank Mixture (derived) in the Swell, but no Mixture in the Great. The 8' Fagot is voiced very gentle and unassertive, so when playing the fanfare intro to "God of Our Fathers Whose Almighty Hand," it would be advisable to back up the Fagot with full Swell (minus the Celeste, of course). It still beats an electronic "simulator" though. (Pipe organs have a soul--even pipe organs that need help, like this one). This organ would greatly benefit from an 8' Geigen Principal, 4' Principal, and a more assertive reed (Trompette or even just an Oboe) in the Swell, even if they were digital voices, and a 32' Contra Violone would be sweet in the Pedal. Otherwise, the Swell/Great balance is way off, as the current Swell cannot compete with the Principal chorus in the Great. 
Utah Valley Pipe Organs
Musical Adventures in Jerusalem

Dear Friends of UVAGO,
Deanne and I have been in Jerusalem now since June of last year, and as you can imagine, it has been the most incredible experience for us.  Anyone who has had this opportunity says the same thing.  Every square inch of this area is rich with history, and it is so inspiring living here and walking where Jesus walked.  It’s almost impossible to describe it, but I wanted to share some of our experience with you.
Our main assignments are with the music program at the BYU Jerusalem Center and hosting tours of the many visitors who come from all over the world.  We love working with all the BYU students here.  Among them are always a lot of talented singers and instrumentalists. Deanne directs our great student choir that sings for the Christmas and Easter programs, sacrament meetings and district conferences, and we have some terrific talent shows.  Every Sunday evening there is a public concert by first-rate Israeli chamber musicians.  We host those concerts as well and get to sit in on some phenomenal music.  Occasionally I even get asked to turn pages for the pianists.  I am more than happy to do that and have learned a lot about the chamber literature in the process. 
I have played two of these Sunday evening recitals myself already.  The first was a program of organ music from around the world (including pieces from Scandinavia, Russia, Asia, and Latin America), and the second was an all-Bach recital, for which we had a sell-out crowd of 300.  I’ve always said that there’s nothing that brings people, even those who don’t know much about organ, out to an organ recital like the music of Bach, and this was no exception.  My next recital will be music by French and German Romantic composers, and then in the summer I’ll do a “musical fireworks” program of American music. 
Leading the tours and meeting with the visitors is always enjoyable.  We have a lot of members of the Church who come here on tours, but we also have a steady stream of Israelis, Russians, and Europeans who come to see the Center. We have fun conversations and feel like we become friends, even though we are only with them for a short visit.
Our visitors are interested in the video we show about the Center and BYU, and of course they love the view from the terrace over the Old City of Jerusalem and the gardens.  But the thing that really gets them is the organ in the upper auditorium.  Very few Israelis or Palestinians have ever heard organ music, let alone seen a live performance on an organ.  In the US, many synagogues have organs, but not in Israel.  The few organs in Israel are in Christian churches, and not many of the local citizens have had occasion to go into churches, so they are always amazed and fascinated when they hear and see the organ.  The organ at the Center is a three-manual tracker organ built by the Danish firm of Marcussen.  It is very similar to the organ at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square—it even has horizontal trumpets.  Each visiting group enjoys a 15-minute “recital,” but since the visitors are so new to the organ, I usually make it more of an organ demo. I almost always play the Bach Toccata in d minor (the runaway favorite), but then I’ll play bits of other pieces to demonstrate the different stops of the organ, using pieces such as Beethoven’s Ode to Joy (principal chorus), William Tell and Verdi’s Aida (trumpets), Dvorak’s Largo (oboe, we don’t have an English horn), Peter and the Wolf (bassoon), Rhapsody in Blue (Schalmei for the clarinet), a Sousa march (piccolo), etc.  It makes such a difference when they hear tunes that are familiar to them.  We just had a Zimbelstern installed in the organ, and so I have fun playing Jingle Bells.  For Israelis I like to play Guilmant’s arrangement of the theme from Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabaeus, which is now a universally recognized Chanukah song here. They love that one!  For visiting Christian groups I play well-known hymns and songs: Amazing Grace, God of Our Fathers (to show off the horizontal trumpets), How Great Thou Art, Ave Maria, Praise to the Man (for bagpipe sounds), Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, and arrangements of “The Holy City” and “I Walked Today Where Jesus Walked.”  It is a very emotional experience for most visitors to hear these songs as they look out of the picture windows and see the Mount of Olives and the city of Jerusalem. 
We have church meetings on Saturdays (Shabbat) here at the Center.  Often we will have as many as 200 visitors for church.  When you add 100 BYU students and other Jerusalem Branch members to the congregation, it makes for some rousing hymn singing!  Deanne and I have various callings in the Jerusalem Branch and District that keep us busy.
On Sundays I play the 36-bell carillon on top of the tower of the fabulous 1930 art-deco YMCA building.  This carillon is quite similar to the one on the BYU campus.  It is fun to play hymns and other music, ringing over the city of Jerusalem.  I always let students who can read music give it a try.  The student choir also gave a Christmas concert for a huge crowd at the YMCA’s outdoor Christmas tree lighting ceremony. 
Many people ask about proselytizing in Israel.  While it is not against the law to proselytize here, BYU has agreed with the Israeli government, for a variety of reasons, that we will not proselytize.  It’s challenging at times to be on a volunteer assignment like this (it’s not technically a mission) when you can’t talk about your faith, but it’s surprising how many wonderful conversations we have with our visitors without talking directly about religion.
One of my goals here has been to play as many other organs in Jerusalem and around Israel as possible. It has been a great experience to play organs in famous churches here and meet their resident organists and pastors.  Some of my favorites in Jerusalem include the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer (Schuke), the Roman Catholic Monastery of St. Savior (Rieger), the Lutheran Church of the Ascension (Sauer, from 1910, a big Romantic organ that has an electric blower but can also be pumped manually), St. George’s Anglican Cathedral (Rieger), the Church of the Holy Sepulcher (Rieger), the Latin Patriarchate (Bazzani), and Notre Dame of Jerusalem (Nelson).  At the Elma concert hall in Zichron Ya’akov in northern Israel I performed a program of music by Vierne, Dupré, Messiaen, and Langlais on their Klais organ; and in Haifa a recital of American works at the Hecht Auditorium on an organ by Israeli builder Gideon Shamir.
A very special opportunity for me is to play at the Church of the Agony (also called the Church of All Nations), which is adjacent to the Garden of Gethsemane.  A Croatian priest there lets me play during the noon hour.  Pilgrims from all over the world come here to meditate on what took place near by.  I play quiet music on the small Rieger organ, including Bach chorales, Mendelssohn slow movements, and sacramental hymns.  It is a very sacred experience.
A trip to the Holy Land should be on everyone’s bucket list—don’t miss the opportunity if you can possibly make it here.  I hope we will see some of you on an upcoming tour!

Here is a link to a Google Photos album of related pictures:

Jim Welch

BYU Organ Online Training Sessions

The BYU Organ Online Training Sessions for Entry-level Organists have been scheduled for the coming season. These webinars are free of charge and available to pianists and organists in any location! 

The presentations will offer a pre-recorded video from 7:00-8:00 pm Mountain Time, with interactive chat with the instructor during the video, followed by a live Question & Answer session until 8:30 pm Mountain Time. Recordings of each class will be available to view for one month following the live presentation.

Additional sessions for Beyond the Basics topics and Individual Feedback will be scheduled soon. We hope to see you at many, if not all training sessions!

Pedal Technique
Instructor: Dr. Mark Campbell
February 2, 2023
7:00-8:30 pm MT

This session establishes the most important foundations of good legato pedal technique. 

Legato Fingering Techniques
Instructor: Kymberly Payne
March 2, 2023
7:00-8:30 pm MT

German Baroque Registration
Instructor: Dr. Daniel Kerr
March 16, 2023
7:00-8:30 pm MT

Register for BYU Online Training Sessions
BYU Traveling Workshops

South Utah County Organ and Choral Workshop
March 18, 2023, 9:00 am-1:00 pm
Free classes for anyone interested in organ playing basics and choral conducting beyond the basics.
Register by March 15
Flyer and registration

Mapleton Organ Workshop
March 24-25, 2023
Register by March 21
Flyer and registration

Sunday 12 February 2023 at 8:00 PM

Loreto Aramendi
Basilique of Santa María del Coro, San Sebastian (Basque Country)
International concertist Loreto Aramendi is the main organist of the Cavaillé-Coll organ (1863) of the Basilique of Santa María del Coro and professor at the F. Escudero Conservatoire in San Sebastian (Basque Country). 

All events are held at the Cathedral of the Madeleine and live-streamed on our YouTube channel. Performances are offered free of charge. Donations are welcome.
The 28th Season Replay! Did you miss a performance or want to enjoy it again? Click the Eccles Festival button below to watch on YouTube.
Eccles Festival
The Tabernacle Organists are pleased to announce that Ukrainian organist Viktor Billa will perform the next Tabernacle Organ Virtuoso Performance Series recital on Friday, February 3, at 7:30 PM.
In addition to works of Bach, Bossi, Dupré, and Vierne, his program will include compositions of Ukrainian composers Honcharenko and Slavicky.

The five accomplished Tabernacle and Temple Square organists, Richard Elliott, Andrew Unsworth, Brian Mathias, Linda Margetts, and Joseph Peeples, plus occasional guest organists, are featured in this online concert stream: 

We Value Your Membership

The chapter appreciates your continued support of its mission to "engage, support, and uplift every organist." If you already have a membership, you may receive an email reminder when it is time to renew it. Your contributions enhance the chapter's ability to sponsor monthly organ events each year. Please reflect on how your associations in the guild have supported and uplifted you, and consider joining or renewing today!. 
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