Today’s DYKYAGO features Leslie Wolf Robb, Councillor for Region IX. Thank you, Leslie, for your kindness and flexibility!
When did you begin to learn how to play the organ?
I started organ lessons at age 8. As a child, I frequently went out to dinner with my parents, and one of our favorite restaurants had a young man playing a Hammond B-3 in the bar. I was totally fascinated by it and wanted to learn to play. It took awhile to convince my parents, but finally my dad purchased a Hammond spinet and I started lessons.
Have you done anything else as a career besides organ?
I teach both piano and organ, have taught Yamaha Music School, and direct children’s and adult choirs plus a handbell ensemble.
How did you begin to become involved in the American Guild of Organists?
I was nominated for office in the San Diego chapter a number of years ago, and really became active when I was asked to be on the Education Committee. I’ve served in a number of offices in San Diego AGO over the years. Co-chairing the Region IX 2001 convention put me in contact with a number of leaders at the national level, and I was asked to be on the Committee on Regional Conventions. More committee work on the Committee on Regional Competitions for Young Organists followed, and in 2010 I was elected Councillor for Region IX. I still serve as Education Chair for San Diego AGO as well.
Are there any specific challenges that you find in being Councillor to Region IX, due to distance, technology, etc?
Our region is geographically quite large, which makes getting to chapters (and gathering chapter leaders for district meetings) a challenge! Technology makes this easier, since we can communicate via email, Skype, phone, etc. It’s energizing to see the exciting and creative activities happening all over the region!
Who is your favorite composer?
Who is your favorite musical artist (classical performer or otherwise)?
That’s a tough question – Paul Jacobs, Chelsea Chen, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Elton John, Eva Cassidy, St. Olaf Cantorei, – I could go on and on. There are so many fine performers today!
Where do you enjoy going on vacation?
Do you have any goals for Region IX or your own personal AGO Chapter?
This, too, could be a very long list! Simply put, I would like to see ALL of our chapters working proactively to promote the organ, grow young organists, and reach the highest possible levels of professionalism and excellence as individuals and as chapters.
Today’s DYKYAGO features…your AGO! Across the country (but, more specifically, our chapter) many organists are preparing for their certification exams which will take place this week. We have many AGO members taking each level of exams from CAGO to Choirmaster.
Are you taking any exams this week? What have you found to be the most challenging?
Good luck, participants!
Today’s DYKYAGO comes from our very own region and our very own chapter. Becky Yoder, a current student at Duquesne University, has been so kind as to participate in our series. A special “Thank you!” goes out to her!
Thank you for being a part of the DYKYAGO series, Becky! Would you mind telling us a little bit about yourself?
I am a rising junior at Duquesne University, studying with Dr. Ann Labounsky and majoring in Organ Performance. I am originally from Accokeek, MD, a suburb of Washington, D. C. Before coming to Duquesne, I studied the organ with Dr. Mickey Thomas Terry. In 2009, I won first place for the Washington D. C. Chapter American Guild of Organists/Quimby Regional Competition for Young Organists, and more recently I received the AGO Service Playing Certificate.
How did you become interested in organ at such an early age?
I became interested in the organ as a young teenager when my first piano teacher gave me a flyer for one of the AGO Pipe Organ Encounters. I went to the POE, and my organ teacher there, Dennis Elwell, encouraged me to start taking regular organ lessons after I went back home. I followed his advice, which led me to where I am today.
What made you decide to study Sacred Music in college?
I wanted to develop the musical talents God has given me for His glory and to bring others closer to Him.
Do you find any challenges in being a young organist?
Trying to find extra practice time during the academic year for competitions and recitals was really challenging for me.
Where do you like to go on vacation?
I really enjoyed traveling in Australia, although I doubt I will be going back there soon! In the U. S., I like to vacation in Ocean City, MD, with my family.
Do you like any other music outside of sacred music and organ?
I like classical music and some contemporary Christian rock.
How do you balance academic as well as musical responsibilities?
This is definitely challenging, but I try to prioritize and focus on whatever is most urgent at any particular time.
If you could meet a composer, dead or alive, who would it be and why? Where would you go?
I would be delighted to meet many different composers, but I would really like to meet Louis Vierne because I like many of his compositions, he was a great improviser, and I’ve heard that he was a charming person. I hope that we would go to Notre Dame in Paris, where I could talk with him about his music and possibly hear him improvise.
What do you see yourself doing as a career?
I hope to eventually get a good stable church job where I am able to promote good sacred music. In addition, I would like to perform recitals and teach organ lessons.
Thank you again, Becky, for your participation! If you are in the DC area, come to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception to her Becky perform in their organ recital series on August 5th at 6 pm. Please see The National Shrine’s Website at www.nationalshrine.com for more information. We wish you the best of luck!
Call for Papers and Recital Programs
The Aesthetics and Pedagogy of Charles Tournemire: Chant and Improvisation in the Liturgy
October 21-23, 2012
The Church Music Association of America
in collaboration with Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
and the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Guild of Organists
The Church Music Association of America will hold a conference exploring the legacy of Charles Tournemire as an improviser and teacher of improvisation on October 21-23, 2012 on the campus of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and at neighboring Pittsburgh churches. The conference seeks to explore the aesthetic, liturgical, theoretical, and technical principles of Tournemire’s improvisations and teachings on improvisation, the use of Gregorian chant in organ improvisation, the role of organ improvisations in the Catholic liturgy, and pedagogical approaches to teaching organ improvisation.
The conference will include liturgies, opportunities for the study of improvisation at the organ, discussion groups, and recital programs and papers relating to the conference theme. Papers presented will be considered for publication in a collection of essays following the conference.
The conference committee welcomes proposals for papers and recital programs.
The deadline for proposals is June 1st, 2012. Notification of acceptance will be given by June 22nd, 2012.
Proposals must be submitted via email to Jennifer Donelson: jd1120 at nova.edu .
A complete call for participation may be viewed at the conference website: http://www.musicasacra.com/tournemire
–Ann Labounsky, FAGO, Dean, Pittsburgh AGO
Are you a subscriber to the TAO? If you are anxiously awaiting your newest issue, fear not. The AGO posts its cover article on the AGO National website so you can calm your anxious selves while sitting by the front door, waiting for the postman to bring your coveted copy.
Read on at the TAO section on AGOhq.org. Your mailman will thank you!
The news of David Craighead’s passing struck the Pittsburgh AGO particularly roughly due to the fact that so many of the guild’s members have spent time with him throughout the years. Current and recently graduated students of Duquesne’s Sacred Music Department know him most recently and have been recounting their experiences with him. We are lucky to have known him and been a part of his legacy.
The funeral arrangements are as follows:
The Funeral will be this Saturday, March 31, 2012 At 10:00 am at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Rochester, NY-the church that he served for organist for nearly 50 years. Prelude will be begin at 9:30 am and a reception to follow in the Asbury First United Methodist Church just up the street where Marian Craighead served as organist for around 40 years.