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.
I’m going to change things up a little for this week’s “Do You Know Your AGO?”. It may sound pretentious, but I am going to introduce myself, for those of you who may not know who runs the Pittsburgh AGO blog.
My name is Amanda Plazek, CAGO. I recently graduated from Duquesne University and work as Director of Liturgical Music at Saint Mary of the Mount Parish on Mount Washington.
Instead of asking myself questions (which is a bit much), I’ll try to touch upon similar things I ask other DYKYAGO participants. I began to learn organ at age nine when I was in fifth grade at Saint Athanasius Catholic School. My mother was the organist at Saint Athanasius at the time and I wanted to be more involved in the weekly school masses. By ten I played my first Catholic mass with a few other classmates. I was fortunate enough to begin an organist position at a small presbyterian church in Bellevue at age fourteen. I’ve been fortunately playing at a church every Sunday ever since!
I wouldn’t be an organist today if it wasn’t for the inspiration of my mother, Cynthia Plazek, and Dr. Ann Labounsky. Both gave me the encouragement when I needed it in my life (and continue to do so)!
If I weren’t an organist I would most likely be a travel agent. I am obsessed with arranging travel plans for my family members; at the moment I am working on arranging my family’s travel plans to Poland in August!
The most time-consuming and challenging facet of my work at Saint Mary of the Mount is the massive amount of weddings that I organize each year. I am scheduled to organize and play 71 weddings this year- at least one wedding each weekend from the Saturday within the Octave of Easter until the Saturday before Christmas Eve! I am thoroughly convinced that I should begin a second blog to document the wedding stories I already have experienced and most likely will experience this year alone.
So why did I create and maintain this blog?
I have always, always felt strongly about introducing a younger demographic to the organist “scene” in Pittsburgh. I have been attending NPM conventions since I was fourteen and have consistently been the youngest member in the group, which is not a bad thing! When I was introduced to the Pittsburgh AGO in my freshman year of college, I couldn’t help but wonder how the guild could benefit from a younger perspective. Since I have been a member of the Executive Committee as a Member at Large, I am fortunate enough to be in charge of the Pittsburgh AGO blog.
And we have begun to create working relationships through the blog already! Not only can we reach out to those who may have been previous Pittsburgh AGO members, we can reach out even further to develop connections with other AGO chapters and organists across the country. For example, we have been linked to Dr. Jeannine Jordan, an organist dedicated to sharing organ music in new and unique ways (check her out at www.promotionmusic.org!).
As an organist, it probably isn’t our first instinct to think technologically. But if we continue to think outside the box, we have the potential to grow in ways that must be fostered in order for our profession- and our art!- to live. I am pleased and excited to continue our technology initiative and thank you in advance for the support and encouragement to widen our net, broaden our perspectives and join together as the Pittsburgh AGO, always warmly welcoming new musicians!
..and that’s my DYKYAGO for the week! How is your journey through Lent progressing? Are you ready for the Triduum? Are you going to tonight’s AGO meeting?