It is with much excitement that I feature today’s DYKYAGO guest. Today we are honored to feature Florence Hawkinson, the Dean of the Utah Valley AGO. I found the blog, “Pedal Points” ( www.ldsorganist.wordpress.com) recently and subscribed to their helpful posts. It turns out that Florence is a fellow AGO’er from across the country.
Thank you for agreeing to be a part of our DYKYAGO series! Will you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I currently serve the dean of the Utah Valley Chapter AGO and am the creator of Pedal Points—an online forum for LDS organists (ldsorganist.wordpress.com). I have lived in Utah for over 25 years, but still claim Pittsburgh as my hometown. I attended grade school in Greentree and graduated from Montour High School (Robinson Township).
What is the “organ culture” like in your AGO Chapter?Is there a strong presence of organ in the area?
Our chapter is small, but strong. The organ faculty and students at nearby Brigham Young University add a great deal of life and enthusiasm to our organ culture.
Are you currently an organist at a church/parish?
I just stepped down from my position as organist at Orem Community Church and am now serving as organist in the Provo Peak 3rd ward, a local congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon).
How do you pick worship music?
I am given the topics of upcoming sermons and look for hymns that support the theme. I consider the meter, rhythm, length, key and general mood of the hymns and other music and try to create a reasonable balance and flow to the service. And to be perfectly honest, sometimes I am influenced by the reality of limited practice time—at times favoring one piece over another because of technical issues.
How long have you been playing organ?
About six years. Starting organ lessons at age 45 I was a bit of a late bloomer, I suppose. 🙂
Do you play any other instruments?
Yes. Piano (of course!) and guitar.
What do you do in your spare time?
Spare time?!? Do you mean when I’m not playing the organ or at my full-time job as an architectural designer/drafter? In those rare moments of spare time, I enjoy reading, writing, biking and spending time with my husband.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
San Francisco. I love fog. And we don’t get a lot of fog in the Utah desert! Also, my sister lives there and always makes sure I have a new organ to explore when I visit her.
What is your favorite organ piece?
Yikes! I don’t do well at naming favorites…but in preparing for the Service Playing Exam (that I took two weeks ago, yay!) I have developed a particular fondness for Hermann Schroeder’s “Schönster Herr Jesu”
What is your favorite Bach piece?
Okay, this favorite is easier to name— Prelude and Fugue in G major (BWV 541). My first organ teacher introduced me to organ music by taking me to an all-Bach organ recital presented by Dr. Douglas Bush. It was a difficult time in my life as I was still grieving the death of my mother. Though all of the music I heard that evening did much to soothe my spirit, when Dr. Bush played the Fugue, my heart felt alive and filled with joy for the first time in nearly two years. Every time I hear that piece I remember the healing that came to me that evening.
If you had to pick one composer in the world to meet (dead or alive), who would it be?
Wow, there are so many wonderful composers…why do you ask such hard questions???
Are you and/or any of your AGO chapter members attending this year’s AGO National Convention?
I will not, but several of our chapter members are regular convention attendees.
What are some of your favorite things about being a member of the AGO Utah Valley Chapter?
The friendship and support of fellow chapter members. The opportunity to get together with other ‘organ geeks’ to learn and share our common interest. I especially appreciate the way the more experienced members have always treated me with respect and have encouraged me in my musical endeavors.
Do you ever have an interest in visiting Pittsburgh? You’re welcome at one of our AGO meetings!
Absolutely! I still keep in touch with a few of my childhood friends who live in or near Pittsburgh. I would love to visit them again and also get acquainted with the organ world of Pittsburgh that I never knew as a child. Thanks for the invitation!
A very special “thank you” goes out to Florence for being open to this interview. Learning about the culture of other AGO Chapters has the capability to bring us closer together. Technology isn’t all bad!
Speaking of, Florence has a special request for our Pittsburgh Chapter, and it can be made possible with technology. Read on…
“I have a special request. I am wondering if any of your chapter members might be able to help me locate a long-lost high school friend. She is the daughter of Reverend Noble who, in 1977, was a pastor in a church in Robinson Township. My friend’s name is Margy (pronounced with a hard g, as in ‘gift’) and I believe her father’s first name was Thomas, but I’m not sure. She would be in her early 50’s now. We only attended the same school (Montour HS) for one year. I was so terribly shy and insecure and she befriended me and showed great kindness. I would love to be able to express my appreciation to her. I am hoping that one of your chapter members may know of Reverend Noble and could help me get a message to his daughter.”
If you have any information about Reverend Noble who worked in a Robinson church in 1977, please e-mail the blog at PittsburghAGO@Gmail.com. Please, also, pass this information along to the older members of the Chapter who do not use the internet.