November 2013 Newsletter

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The Opus – November 2013 – PDF file

Organ Crawl

Our November program is for the curious organists of our chapter. Judging by that statement, we should have an outstanding crowd! We will visit four different churches that all have significant organs. The locations include the Shrine of St. Joseph, Third Baptist Church, Eighth Church of Christ, Scientist, and another undetermined location. St. Alphonsus “Rock” Church was booked for this event, but they backed out at the last minute. A fourth location will be determined as soon as possible.

Our First venue, the Shrine of St. Joseph, was organized in 1843 and built in 1846. Originally established as a Jesuit institution, it is currently staffed by priests of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. J. G. Pfeffer & Sons installed the 35-rank mechanical action organ in the Shrine in 1890. Martin Ott took on the task of restoring the instrument in 1998. The historically accurate restoration was completed in 2002. For more information on the story visit Martin’s website——and search for Opus 95. The organ is only one of many fascinating things about the church. You’re in for a treat if you have never been to this beautiful historic building!

Prominently situated on the corner of Washington and Grand in the recently named Grand Center Arts and Entertainment District, Third Baptist Church has been a staple in the inner-city church community since its founding. While Third Baptist has always had a significant instrument for worship, the newly installed Reuter organ is something to behold. The handsome and very well designed four-manual console controls 72 ranks of pipes (A total of 4,933 pipes). The instrument contains many unique features, including a Tibia and an antiphonal division that speaks from the ceiling of the sanctuary. And if the organ isn’t enough for you, the sanctuary, designed by an theatre architect, has many interesting aspects to study. For more information on the Third Baptist Organ, visit the website at:

Eighth Church of Christ, Scientist seems to be a mystery to many organists in St. Louis. Few people have ever been inside the church and apparently the guild has not been granted access to the church for events in the past. I am grateful to guild member Cindy Johnson who put me in touch with Jane Southard, organist at the church. Jane was very kind and presented our organ crawl proposal to the church board, and they approved our request! The church has a 43- rank Moeller organ that was built in 1930. We are looking forward to visiting the church and building a relationship with the church leadership.

Information about all the organs can be found on Brent Johnson’s organ archive website, This website is a fantastic resource for learning about the instruments in St. Louis. I hope you all will take advantage of the hard work that Brent has done on this website.

Please bring along your shoes and a piece of music if you’re interested in playing on any of the instruments. Nothing too big or formal is required. After the crawl, we will decide on a place to have lunch. This is not formally part of the event, but it will certainly be a good opportunity to socialize with your colleagues.

Stephen Eros,

The Details
Event: Organ Crawl
Location: Starting at Shrine of St. Joseph
1220 North 11th Street
St. Louis, MO 63106
Date: Saturday, November 23rd, 2013
Time: 9:30 am – 12:30 pm
Host: Rene Zajner, Brent Johnson, Jane Southard
Cost: Free
Reservations: None Required

From I-64E: Take the 14th Street Exit. Turn left onto South 14th Street. Turn right onto Cole Street. Turn left onto North 11th Street. The Shrine is on your right.

From Illinois I-64W: Take Exit 2C and merge onto the MLK Bridge. Follow the signs towards Cole Street. Cross Broadway in order to stay on Cole Street. Turn right onto North 11th Street. The Shrine is on your right.

From the Dean…

Welcome to each of our new members and to the renewing members. Your support of the Guild and our local chapter is appreciated. I look forward to seeing an uptick in the attendance at programs and in those willing to take part as officers, executive board members, committee members, and other leadership roles.

One of the challenges of a volunteer-led organization such as ours is that the wide expectations of many (the membership) can be achieved only when “someone” steps up in leadership to donate time and money to make expectations a reality. This is a “wake-up” announcement that we need more people to move off the sidelines and to step into the activities of the guild as we seek to grow and expand our outreach and diversity of programs, AGO certification, member development, educational opportunities, and social events.

I have been made aware of some circulating inaccuracies and overheard the following comments at one time or another about the guild leadership and organizational structure. It is hoped that this myth-buster section will clarify some of those misunderstandings:

Myth #1 – The same people are always chosen to be on the executive committee or in leadership.
Truth – Annually there are elections for executive committee members who have a 3-year membership. The nominations for those individuals can come from the nominating committee or the general membership. If you are interested in becoming an elected officer or executive committee member, please share your thoughts with the dean, any member of the executive committee, or any of the officers. If it appears that the same people always are chosen, then throw your hat in the ring and change it!

Myth #2 – There’s no place for me because I’m only a part-time musician.
Truth – the majority of our membership are part-time musicians. Sadly, more and more churches are eliminating full time musician positions but are still expecting the same level of participation and commitment from their staff. There is a strong initiative within the AGO to assist part-time musicians in doing more with less.

Myth #3 – I don’t feel welcome. The guild is just a bunch of snobbish prima-donnas.
Truth – Definition #1 of prima donna: “a person that’s considered vain, temperamental and/or conceited.” H-e-l-l-o?? Some are, some aren’t. We have tried to make sure that all visitors and every person who attends one of our programs or functions is greeted personally by one of the members of the executive committee or officers. We’re not perfect, so if we missed you, I apologize. Please help us be an organization that isn’t snobbish, vain, temperamental and/or conceited! We welcome you to help us change.

Myth #4 – All the meetings are held behind closed doors and I never know what’s going on.
Truth – ALL meetings of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Guild of Organists are open to anyone (member or not) and we operate in a spirit of transparency, inclusiveness, and hospitality. Following the executive committee meetings, anyone is welcome to join us at a local restaurant for food, drink, and stimulating discussion. The executive meetings are posted on the website. Committee meetings are held at the discretion of the committee chairs. If you have questions, send me an e-mail:

Myth #5 – I don’t need to join the guild because the quality of programs is not up to my standards.
Truth – Even if you don’t need the guild, the guild needs you! At the outset of this article, I pointed out that the guild functions through a network of volunteers whose donation of time and talent are without compensation and usually at some cost to the individual in time, transportation, office supplies, etc. If you have expertise in any area that could improve the quality of programming, expand the selection of programs, or provide education and mentoring to others with genuine interest in personal and professional growth, please don’t be stingy! Join the guild, become a leader, get on a committee, and get involved. You might meet some very wonderful people. Make it better!

I believe the right to criticize is earned. If you have a beef with the chapter or guild, please let me know. I will probably ask you to get more involved to solve the problems you identify. Only if we all chip in can the guild become the best it can be!

FYI: Upcoming Executive Board Meetings are: November 11, 2013, 6:00 PM ; February 10, 2014, 6:00 PM; April 14, 2014, 6:00 PM; May 12, 2014, 6:00 PM. All meetings for 2013-14 will be at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 6800 Washington Ave, University City, 63130.

Note: Additional meetings may be called with advanced noticed as deemed necessary. All meetings are open, transparent, accessible, and provide time for guest or visitor comments.

All the best for the Thanksgiving and Holy Seasons.
Dr. Bill Wade, CAGO


(A Four-Part Article, Installment I)
Publish or Perish, Talk or Tumble, Change or Die

(Reprinted courtesy of the Committee on Membership Development and Chapter Support (COMDACS).

Like any good Presbyterian sermon, this talk today has three points and an introduction.

To introduce myself, my name is Howard Slenk. I taught organ at Calvin College for three years in the fifties. From 1967 to 1997, I taught music history, music theory, and conducted, at one time or another, most of the choral groups at Calvin. During that time I also was Organist and Director of Music at a local church. After retirement from Calvin, I was a full-time Interim Director of Music at three large downtown churches. While holding one of these positions I became Dean of the Grand Rapids Chapter of the AGO, and held that office for three years.

The reason that I am standing here in front of you this morning, is that during the three years that I was Dean, the Grand Rapids Chapter experienced the highest rate of membership growth in the nation. These were the three years of the “Each One, Reach One” campaign. We were the winners for the first two years, and at the top the third year, but did not survive the drawing.

I have been asked to speak to you informally on several occasions, but this time I was asked to present a formal speech on why we were so successful. Today, instead of speaking off the cuff, I’ve prepared this three-point sermon, which I’m hoping will be of help to you. Each one of my three points will include a story of an unhappy experience I had as an AGO member, followed by suggestions on how to prevent such stories from happening.

In the spring of 2005, the Dean of our chapter approached me at a meeting and asked if I would be willing to become a member of the Executive Committee of our chapter. I agreed to serve. I didn’t know anything about the AGO’s By-Laws then, therefore did not realize I should have been elected, not just asked to join. Evidently, the Chapter had been operating this way for some time, because it had been difficult to get people to serve. I later heard that during one season, another Dean had run the Chapter all by himself, without the support of an Executive Committee.

In September of that year, at the first Executive Committee meeting there were two situations that seemed to me unhealthy for an organization.

The first was that almost all of the six Members-at-Large were members of the same denomination. Even though it was my own wonderful denomination, and all six members were admirable, capable people, surrounding oneself with only like-minded people is seldom healthy, and will be unavoidable if Executive Committee members simply ask other members to serve.

The second undesirable situation was that the slate of programs for the current year was not in place. Quite a few events still had to be either voted on and confirmed or–at this late date–suggested.

During that year, both the Dean and the Sub-Dean announced that they would be stepping down. As soon as I heard this I spoke with a colleague of mine whom I knew would make a good Dean and really twisted her arm. She agreed, but for only one year, so I promised to take her place in 2007. I then talked to three full-time organist-choir directors (two of them new in town) who were not members of my denomination, and convinced them to become Members at Large during the coming season. One of these people became our highly-skilled Webmaster and eventually the electronic publisher of our monthly newsletter. Once again, no elections.

But in September 2006, we had a new gung-ho Gang of Four from four different denominations, that included an enthusiastic, capable new Dean. Most of the programs for the current season were in place. As soon as they were all nailed down, we started planning for 2007, and by May of that season, all seven programs for the next season were in place, and could be advertised on our web-site and in the final newsletter of the current season. So when we asked members to re-register in June we could give them a complete program for the following season. We published like mad: in our newsletter and on our website, constantly talking up the guild.

Find out how this plan worked in the next installment. Installment II will be published in the January issue of The Opus.

Planning for the North Central Regional AGO Convention to be held here in St. Louis is well underway and the steering committee is looking forward to sharing the planned program in the coming weeks. You can help make it a success by becoming a sponsor of the convention. Donations to the chapter are tax-deductable.

  • Bombarde $5000-$10000
  • Solo $2500-$4999
  • Swell $1500-$2499
  • Great $750-$1499
  • Choir $200-$749
  • Foundation Up to $199

Sponsorship levels reflect total giving, not just a one-time gift. Our fundraising will span the 2013, 2014, and 2015 tax years, so your sponsorship can be made in convenient installments. Please make you chectk out to AGO 2015 Regional Convention and send it to AGO 2015 Regional Convention, Attn: Mike Kaberline, Treasurer, PO Box 140067, St. Louis, MO 63114-0067, and keep watching WWW.AGO2015.ORG for updates.

Upcoming Concerts


Sunday, November 3–2:00 p.m. Christ Church Cathedral
Shepley Program of Music and Art. Equinox Chamber Players, St. Louis’ Premier Woodwind Quintet. Free of charge. 1210 Locust Street, St. Louis, MO 63103-2322

Sunday, November 3—10:15 a.m. Webster Groves Presbyterian Church
Ingathering Sunday with Celebration Brass Quintet—Worship Service. 45 West Lockwood Ave. Webster Groves, MO 63119 Contact: Shawn Portell, Director of Music Ministries/Sr. Organist 314-962-9210 x 3108

Friday, November 8—8:00 p.m. Cathedral Basilica
Choir of St. Thomas, Leipzig with the Leipzig Baroque Orchestra, Georg Christoph Biller, Thomaskantor and Conductor. Works of Bach, Telemann, Mendelssohn, Schumann, and Reger. Tickets: $24.00, $34.00, and $44.00. 4431 Lindell Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108 $15.00, general admission. Ticket orders: (314) 533-7662 or online at

Sunday, November 10–2:00 p.m. Christ Church Cathedral
Shepley Program of Music and Art. Joanna Mendoza, Viola (Arianna String Quartet); Nina Ferrigno, Piano (Calyx Piano Trio); Alberto Almarza, Flute (Carneie Mellon University). Free of charge. 1210 Locust Street, St. Louis, MO 63103-2322

Saturday, November 16–7:00 p.m. Christ Church Cathedral
Shepley Program of Music and Art. Dwayne Hilton, Cardinals’ Organist and Company in Music for Life. A benefit for Second Wind Lung Transplant Association. For ticket information call (314) 637-7558. 1210 Locust Street, St. Louis, MO 63103-2322

Sunday, November 17—4:00 p.m. Webster Groves Presbyterian Church
Gress-Miles Pipe Organ Rededication Concert by Shawn Portell and Ted Cronbaugh, Organists. 45 West Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, MO 63119. Contact: Shawn Portell, Director of Music Ministries/Sr. Organist 314-962-9210 x 3108

Sunday, November 17 – 4:00 p.m. Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church
Chamber Music Project St. Louis presents Dream: Sweet Songs of Love, Loss and Romance Drift Through the Air. Debra Hillabrand, Mezzo-soprano; Laura Reycraft, Viola; Dana Hotle, Clarinet; Nina Ferrigno, Piano. Free will offering. 9450 Clayton Road, St. Louis, MO 63124. Contact: David Erwin 314-993-4771 x3121.

Sunday, November 17—5:00 p.m. Second Presbyterian Church
Couts Music Series–175th Anniversary Concert. Second Church Chorale and Orchestra with conductor Andrew Peters. Mozart’s Solemn Vespers for soloists, choir, and orchestra. Also, orchestral pieces by Elgar, Mendelssohn, and others. Additional singers are welcome to join the Chorale for this concert. Contact the Second Church music office at 376-0367 for more information. Please note the concert time—5.00 p.m.

Sunday, November 17–2:00 p.m. Christ Church Cathedral
Shepley Program of Music and Art. St. Louis Women’s Chorale, Leanna Latuda, Director. For ticket information call (314) 727-3587. 1210 Locust Street, St. Louis, MO 63103-2322

Sunday, November 24–4:00p.m. Christ Church Cathedral
Shepley Program of Music and Art. Evensong–The Cathedral Choir. Free of charge. 1210 Locust Street, St. Louis, MO 63103-2322


Saturday, December 7–7:30 p.m. Saint Paul UCC, Belleville IL
Handel’s Messiah, Part I. The Masterworks Chorale and Orchestra with guest soloists. Dr. Stephen Mager, Music Director and Conductor. The concert marks the beginning of the St. Paul’s Fine Arts Series 30th Anniversary Celebration. Free of charge, a free-will offering will be taken.

Saturday, December 7 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 8 2:30 p.m. Cathedral Basilica. Christmas at the Cathedral. Christmas classics old and new, and this year will include Vivaldi’s stunning setting of the Gloria, conducted by Dr. Horst Buchholz. 4431 Lindell Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63108. Tickets, $24.00, $39.00, and $49.00. Ticket orders: (314) 533-7662 or online,

Sunday, December 8 7:30 p.m. Saint Clare RC Church, O’Fallon IL
A Masterworks Christmas, featuring Handel’s Messiah, Part I and new and favorite carols. The Masterworks Chorale with guest soloist and The Masterworks Children’s Choruses. Dr. Stephen Mager, Music Director and Conductor. Tickets: Adults $15 in advance, $20 at the door; children $5 in advance, $10 at the door. Phone orders: 618-236-0182 or by mail (see website for order form—

Friday, December 6—7:30 p.m. Union United Methodist Church
United States Air Force Band of Mid-America, Concert Band. 45 enlisted professional musicians who represent the excellence of the USAF. Repertoire ranges from symphonic band, traditional marches to modern compositions and jazz. Free concert. 721 East Main Street, Belleville, IL 62220.

Sunday, December 8—2:00 p.m. Christ Church Cathedral
Shepley Program of Music and Art. “A Holiday Gift to the People of St. Louis.” Webster University Faculty and Students. Free of charge. 1210 Locust Street, St. Louis, MO 63103-2322

Sunday, December 8—4:00 p.m. Second Presbyterian Church
Couts Music Series–Advent Vespers: People Look East–service of readings and music. Includes congregational hymns, readings and music selected to celebrate the quiet start of the Advent sea- son. The Second Church Choir, Handbell Choir and organist Andrew Peters offer music with Reverend Mary Gene Boteler, reader. 4501 Westminster Place (at Taylor), St. Louis, Missouri 63108. For more information: Andrew Peters, 367-0366 or

Sunday, December 8—7:00 p.m. Christ Church Cathedral
Shepley Program of Music and Art. Diocesan Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols. Missouri and Springfield, Illinois Choirs and Instrumentalists. Free of charge. 1210 Locust Street, St. Louis, MO 63103-2322

Sunday, December 15—10:15 A.M. Webster Groves Presbyterian Church.
Festival of Lessons and Carols—“Holy Light” – Robert Hobby. With Celebration Brass, Chancel Choir, Ely and Alumni Ringers of Webster Pres ring and sing in the Birth of Our Lord through this annual festival. Worship Service. 45 West Lockwood Ave. Webster Groves, MO 63119. Contact: Shawn Portell, Director of Music Ministries/Sr. Organist 314-962-9210 x 3108.

Saturday, December 21—2:00 and 5:00 p.m. Christ Church Cathedral
Shepley Program of Music and Art. National Lutheran Choir Christmas Concert. For ticket information call (888) 747-4589. 1210 Locust Street, St. Louis, MO 63103-2322.


Sunday, January 12—3:00 p.m. St John Evangelical UCC, Collinsville, IL
Scott Montgomery, Concert Organist. Enjoy the warm sounds of our Wicks 29-Rank Pipe Organ, Circa 1963. An afternoon of classics. No charge—a free-will offering will be received. 307 West Clay Street, Collinsville, IL.

Sunday, Janary 12—4:00 p.m. Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church
High Times and Thin Places: Singing Glory to God through the Liturgical Year. Hymn Festival led by Mary Louise Bringle, kChair of Hymnal Committee (Presbyterian) for Glory to God, the new Presbyterian hymnal. Combined Choirs of Faith Des Peres Presbyterian Church, Ladue Chapel and Second Presbyterian Church. Contact: David Erwin, 314-993-4771.


St. Luke Catholic Church in Belleville, IL is seeking a part-time Director of Music and Organist. The church is located in the Belleville Historic District, a turn-of-the-century church noted for its classic architecture and stained glass windows. Instruments include a 17-rank Kilgen pipe organ, grand piano, and handbells. Experience with Catholic liturgical music, a variety of musical styles, and both organ and piano skills are preferred. To apply, please send a resume and cover letter to: Search Committee, St. Luke Parish, 301 North Church Street, Belleville, IL 62220 or email

Trinity Presbyterian Church, University City, seeks qualified tenor and bass singers and section leaders for versatile church choir. Responsibilities of the position require weekly Thursday evening rehearsals from 7:15 PM to 9:15 PM and Sunday morning worship service at 10:30 am. Possible solo opportunities. Compensation is competitive. Audition required. Interested singers may contact Vicki Carmichael, minister of music – choir director, at or by phone at 314-258-8520 (cell) or 314-725-3840 (church).