Dean’s Message

A Royal Convention in Kansas City!

It was a great joy and privilege to attend the national convention of The American Guild of Organists last month in Kansas City. Everyday was full of amazing performances, new music and beautiful instruments to enjoy. Some highlights of the week:

The opening worship “Remembrance and Reconciliation” was a fitting tribute to the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. It combined poetry, narratives from soldiers, new choral music and a new hymn commissioned for the performance, historical photos, organ, orchestra and choir into a profoundly moving 90 minute memorial service.

Pamela Decker’s new composition, “The Seven Last Words and Triumph of Christ” for organ solo and dance, performed by Douglas Cleveland and the Storling Dance Theater. This was another example of combining art forms, which happened frequently during the convention.

Bach Vespers featuring the Spire Chamber Ensemble with period instruments, conducted by Ben Spalding. This was an outstanding performance, worthy of The Netherlands Bach Ensemble or Boston Baroque.

James Higdon’s recital in Bales Recital Hall at the University of Kansas in Lawrence. The Hellmuth Wolff tracker in a small, reverberant recital hall is an overwhelming experience. It is absolutely one of the greatest organ installations in the United States.

Chelsea Chen gave a thrilling recital on the modern style Casavant in Kauffman Recital Hall.

Attending a national or regional convention gives inspiration for another year of work and service in our own positions at home. We must renew our own spirits in order to be a leader and an inspiration for others.


Bradley Swope, Dean