Frédéric Blanc in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh welcomed renowned French organist and improviser Frédéric Blanc on October 28, 2014 for a recital at Saint Bernard Parish in the suburb of Mt. Lebanon. In addition to works by Dupré, Handel, Langlais, Tournemire, and Duruflé, his performance also showcased his improvisational skills in several styles and forms. The recital opened with Blanc’s “Ouverture improvise,” followed by Dupér’s “Toccata sur Placare Christe Servulis.” After his performance of the concerto in d minor by Handel (adapted by John Guillou), Frederic Blanc improvised a three movement concerto in a similar style. He also paired his own improvisation on a Gregorian theme with “Mors et Resurection” from Trois paraphrases gregoriennes by Langlais and “Improvisation sur le Te Deum” by Tournemire (reconstruction by Duruflé). The program closed with a dazzling “Poeme symphonique improvise” showcasing St. Bernard’s magnificent Casavant organ.

Duquesne University also hosted Frederic Blanc for a master class and discussion of his life and training, including his studies with Marie-Madeleine Duruflé. He also described Maurice Duruflé’s life and development as a composer, offering fascinating insights into Duruflé’s personality and education.

More information on Frédéric Blanc may be found on his website:


A Hidden Gem of the Pittsburgh Music Scene

The greater Pittsburgh area boasts a vibrant musical community with a plethora of concerts and recitals by professional and amateur ensembles. Attendees at the upcoming regional AGO convention will experience some of the city’s outstanding organs and concert venues as part of the official proceedings, but may also wish to take in some of the region’s little-known musical attractions including the rich musical heritage of Old Economy Village.

Now a state-run historic site, Old Economy is just north of Pittsburgh in Ambridge, PA, making it a worthwhile day trip for convention attendees with a musicological bent. In addition to seventeen original buildings constructed in the early nineteenth century and stunning formal gardens, the museum houses an extensive music archive with thousands of scores including early German Pietist hymnals, early American printings of choral masterworks, and handwritten manuscripts of hymns, festival odes, and orchestral music by the members of the Harmony Society, who founded the village and lived there communally from 1824-1904.

Seven nineteenth century pianos are also on display, including four with added reed attachments and bellows mechanisms; these “reed pianos” were briefly popular in the middle of the nineteenth century and were favored by the Harmonists. Orchestral instruments from the 1830s and a metronome believed to have been built by Johann Nepomuk Maelzel himself are also on display.

St. Paul Cathedral’s Beckerath Organ

Many outstanding organs and worship spaces may be found in the Pittsburgh area, including the 1962 Rudolf von Beckerath Organ at St. Paul Cathedral.  This magnificent four manual instrument is featured in hundreds of liturgies each year, as well as in recitals by local and visiting organists.  Hailed as one of Beckerath’s finest instruments, it  recently received extensive restoration by Taylor and Boody Organbuilders.

Craig Cramer of the University of Notre Dame identified the St. Paul Cathedral organ as one of the most significant instruments in the United States, stating  “I consider this organ to be one of the monument organs of the continent. Certainly it can be said that this organ is one of the most important organs to be installed anywhere on this continent in the post World War II era.  It is a masterpiece, not only in sound, but in its architectural concept as well. It follows majestically and proudly the basic tenets of the great antique European models, and as such it represents all that is good about the organ as an instrument”.
Here is Paul Jacobs, who grew up near Pittsburgh, playing the St. Paul Cathedral organ:

Nunc Dimittis – Dr. Robert Sutherland Lord

Dr.  Robert  Sutherland Lord

Dr. Robert Sutherland Lord, teacher, scholar and organist, passed away Thursday July 24th, 2014, at the age of 84.

French organ music of the 19th and 20th centuries were the center of Dr. Lord’s interests. He was a recognized authority on the music of Charles Tournemire, a student of Caesar Franck and teacher of Jean Langlais. Dr. Lord studied improvisation with Langlais in Paris and enjoyed a close friendship for over 30 years.

More information is at the Pittsburgh American Guild of Organists web site –

Saint Paul Cathedral Summer Organ Concert Series

stpaulFifth & Craig Streets, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Free Admission
Free will offering accepted

For information call 412-621-6082 or email

2014 Summer Series – Sundays at 4:00PM

13 July        Mark King
20 July        Robert Wisniewski
27 July        Ken Danchik & Don Fellows
3   August    Chaz Bowers
10 August    No Concert Today!
17 August    David Burton Brown
24 August    Jennifer Zoellner-Marshall


Mr. Dale Gilliland (1933-2012) information

It is with a heavy heart that I report the loss of our dear friend Mr. Dale Gilliland. Dale passed away on Thursday, June 28th. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to Suzie and her family.

Here is the obituary (found on

Dale Gilliland

Dale A. Gilliland Bellevue Dale A. Gilliland, 79, of Bellevue, died Thursday, June 28, 2012. He was the lifelong, loyal friend of Elizabeth “Betty” (Douglas) Gilliland; loving father of Virginia G. “Ginny” (Philip) Petraglia, of Hampton Township, Ruthie G. (Mark) Riethmuller, of Hampton Township, and Suzanne L. Gilliland, of Bellevue; brother of Donald A. Gilliland, of St. Petersburg Beach, Fla.; grandfather of Daniel Gilliland Reithmuller and Douglas Scott Reithmuller; uncle of Sharon Gilliland Buttermore and Heather Shaver; also survived by his beloved dogs, Lizzie and Flossie. Dale Alexander Gilliland was born Feb. 12, 1933, in Bellevue, to Alexander Vance and Mary Louise Gardner Gilliland. Dale attended the Bellevue School District (now Northgate), where he graduated in the class of 1951. Dale’s musical life started at age five, when he began piano studies and advanced his studies to the organ at age 12. On Feb. 6, 1949, as a young 15 year old, he “slipped onto the organ bench” to play his first service at Knoxville Baptist Church, which was just a start to a career of more than 60 years! He spent time in the service for his country in the Army at Fort Belvoir, Va., as a chaplain’s assistant from 1953 to 1956. He was an organist/choir director at the Emsworth United Presbyterian Church, the Bellevue Baptist Church, Bellevue United Presbyterian Church, Watson Presbyterian Church, Mt. Calvary Presbyterian Church and Crafton United Presbyterian Church. In 1995, Dale returned to Riverview United Presbyterian Church and continued to serve as the organist on Observatory Hill. Dale served as the treasurer of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. He was the past president and treasurer of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Presbyterian Association of Musicians (PAM). Dale sat on the Organ Committee when the Luley organ was being built at Riverview, the Pittsburgh Opera Production Committee and the Musician’s Club of Pittsburgh. He worked at Pennock’s, Cutain Call, was a freelance florist and volunteered at the Food Bank at Riverview Church. There will be no visitation. Interment held within the privacy of the family. A memorial service will be scheduled at a later date. Arrangements by LAWRENCE T. MILLER FUNERAL HOME INC., Bellevue. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Riverview United Presbytrian Church Organ Fund, 3505 Perrysville Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15214, Ligonier Camp and Conference Center (LCCC) 188 Macartney Lane, Ligonier, PA 15658,, or the National Kidney Foundation of the Alleghenies, 3109 Forbes Ave., Suite 101, Pittsburgh, PA 15213,