You can spot our very own chapter dean Walter Stout in this article from The Pantagraph about the fate of organs (and organists) in central Illinois. Click here to read
A past dean of our Peoria Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, Loretta Dirst, died on December 11, 2022 at the age of 90. Her son, Matthew Dirst, is a concert organist based in Houston, Texas.
Loretta M. Dirst, 90, of Morton passed away on Sunday, December 11, 2022, at her home.
She was born on February 15, 1932, in Kansas City, Mo. Her parents were Leonard and Hulda Collman. She married Charles Dirst on October 13, 1957, in Yorkville, Ill. He preceded her in death on August 10, 2018.
Surviving are her children, Philip Dirst of Smyrna, Ga., Julie (Mike Shane) Shane of Morton, Matthew (Sixto Wagan) Dirst of Houston, Texas, and Emily (Tony) LaCivita of Downers Grove, Ill.; and seven grandchildren, Alexander (Yudy) Dirst, Jeff Shane, Kevin (Maggie) Shane, Alex (Josephine) Shane, Katy (Claire) LaCivita, Joe LaCivita and Charley LaCivita.
Loretta was an organist for over 50 years at various churches in the area. She was a devoted mother and grandmother.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, December 16, 2022, at Advent Lutheran Church in Morton, with the Rev. Barb Ziah and Pastor John Rothfusz officiating. Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, December 15, 2022, at Knapp-Johnson Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Morton. Further visitation will be held Friday, from 9 to 9:45 a.m., prior to the service at the church. Burial will be at Roberts Cemetery in Morton.
Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society or the Alzheimer’s Association Central Illinois Chapter.
Knapp-Johnson Funeral Home and Cremation Center in Morton is handling arrangements.
To view Loretta’s video tribute or to leave an online condolence for the family, visit www.knappjohnson.com.
UPDATE: For those who missed the concert, here’s a recording of the live stream.
On Sunday, October 30 at 2 p.m., come listen to Peoria Chapter Dean Walter Stout in concert at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 1617 East Emerson in Bloomington. He’ll entertain on the newly renovated organ, playing music by Bach, Mendelssohn, Mozart and more – including a suite from Star Wars and a Sousa march!
A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Walter J. Stout has been active as a church musician since age 15, serving churches in central Texas, Oklahoma, and Illinois. He received the Bachelor of Music (Magna Cum Laude) in organ performance from Southwest Texas State University, San Marcos; and the Master of Music in organ performance from the University of Tulsa. Walter has also completed postgraduate study in organ at the University of North Texas and the University of Oklahoma. He has extensive experience as a church musician, solo artist, accompanist, and choral conductor.
Since relocating to central Illinois in 2010, Mr. Stout has served as an organist at Bethel Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bartonville. In December 2021, he assumed the duties of Organist / Pianist / Worship Musician at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bloomington. There he plays the 2005 Berghaus organ and directors the adult and handbell choirs.
Toccata and Fugue in d minor, BWV 565 – J. S. Bach (1685-1750)
Now Thank We All Our God, BWV 657 – J. S. Bach (1685-1750)
Sonata in A Major, Op. 65, #3 Felix Mendelssohn
I. Con moto maestoso (1809-1847) II. Andante tranquillo
Exsultate, Jubilate, K. 165 W. A. Mozart
Dr. Julie Clemens, soprano (1756-1791)
Organ transcription by Walter J. Stout
I. Exsultate jubilate
II. Fulget amica dies
III. Tu virginum corona
The Liberty Bell John Philips Sousa (1854-1932)
arr. Joseph Linger
Star Wars Suite John Williams (b. 1932)
arr. J. Mark Baker
I. Star Wars (Main Theme)
II. The Imperial Death March (Darth Vader’s Theme)
III. May the Force Be With You (from Stars Wars: A New Hope)
IV. The Throne Room
From Symphony No. 3, Op. 28 Louis Vierne
IV. Adagio (1870-1937)
From Symphony No. 1, Op. 14
Mark your calendar for this spectacular music event – you don’t want to miss it:
Sunday, 30 January 2022
@ 3:00 P.M.
The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception
607 NE Madison Ave
On the 1937 Wicks organ (Op. 1503) voiced by Henry Vincent Willis.
Admission to this concert will be free thanks to a major gift to our chapter from the estate of Peoria Organ Builder, John (Jack) Becker.
Katelyn Emerson concertizes throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia, showcasing repertoire spanning the 14 th —21 st centuries and lecturing on topics ranging from organ interpretation and healthy practice techniques to sacred music. Laureate of organ competitions on three continents and recipient of a J. William Fulbright Study/Research Grant and a German Academic Exchange Scholarship (DAAD), Katelyn studied at the Conservatoire de Toulouse (France), was awarded the Master Orgel from the Musikhochschule Stuttgart (Germany), and received double degrees in organ and French from Oberlin & Conservatory College (USA). She is associate editor of the online journal Vox Humana (voxhumanajournal.com) and a regular contributor of feature articles for the UK’s Choir & Organ. Her two CD recordings, Inspirations (2018) and Evocations (2017), are available on the Pro Organo label.
For further information and recordings, please visit: http://www.katelynemerson.com
Peoria’s last local organ builder has died. Jack Becker was our longest tenured member of the Peoria chapter, having joined in 1953. Jack also had ties to the Hinners Organ Company, as he was trained by George Alan – one of the last organ builders at Hinners.
His obituary is below:
John “Jack” L. Becker, 89, of Peoria passed away on Saturday, January 9, 2021, at UnityPoint Health-Methodist in Peoria.
Jack was born on January 31, 1931, in Peoria to George J. and Katherine C. (Lorenz) Becker.
Jack had a long career tuning and repairing pipe organs for churches in the Peoria area. He was appointed the organist for the Valley of Peoria Scottish Rite, Mohammed Shrine and several of the Peoria area Masonic Lodges.
Jack was very active with the Masonic fraternity, where he was a 68-year/life member of Schiller Lodge #0335 A.F. & A.M., serving several times as Worshipful Master, Grandview Lodge #1112 A.F. & A.M., and Cathedral #1179 A.F. & A.M.; Member of the Mohammed Shriners of Peoria, A.A.O.N.N.S., where he was a member of the Chanters; Scottish Rite Valley of Peoria, where he received his 33rd Degree on Sept. 21, 2004, and his MSA on June 5, 1982, he was a member of Peoria Chapter No. 7 Royal Arch Masons Past Excellent High Priest in 2008, Peoria Council No. 11 Cryptic Masons Past Thrice Illustrious Master in 2011, Peoria Commandery No. 3 Knights Templar Past Eminent Commander in 2017, Life member of Central Illinois York Rite College N. 42. He was a member of St. Helena Conclave Red Cross of Constantine Past Puissant Sovereign in 2003; Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) Columbia Lodge No. 21 Past Noble Grand in 2017 and Peoria Canton No. 84 Past Lieutenant in 2018; Member of the Universal Craftsmen Council of Engineers (U.C.C.E.) Peoria Council No. 35 Past Worthy Chief. He was also member of Earl of Torell Council No. 24, Knight Masons.
Jack was a charter member of United Presbyterian Church in Peoria.
During his younger days, Jack enjoyed working on and riding Harley Davidson motorcycles. He even attended the annual motorcycle rally held in Sturgis, SD.
Jack is survived by his many friends and fellow Masons. He was preceded in death by his parents.
A Masonic memorial service will be held at a future date. Graveside services will be held on Wednesday, January 20, 2021, at 10:30 a.m. at Parkview Cemetery in Peoria.
Memorials may be made to the Valley of Peoria William McDaniels Almoner’s Fund, Shriner’s Hospitals for Children or his church.
Sadly, a member of the Peoria chapter’s board has passed away. Fr. Joe was most recently our board secretary and publicity chair. We’ll miss him dearly.
His obituary is below:
Father Dennis (Joe) Dunlap, 70, moved from this life to the next on April 18, 2020 at his home in Peoria. He was born on May 7, 1949 to Everett and Gladys Dunlap. He is survived by one brother Ike Dunlap of Bloomington, IL, four sisters Lois Kistner, Normal, IL, Linda (Dave) Roop, Downs, IL, Diana (Lenny) Jones, Downs, IL, Dixie (John) Weaver, Bloomington, IL, and one sister-in-law Stella Dunlap, Bloomington, IL.
He was preceded in death by his parents and one brother, John Dunlap. Joe graduated from Bloomington High School then went on to Priesthood. Father Joe served as a Reverend at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Fond du Lac, WI. He then moved on to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in McHenry, IL and retired from All Saints Episcopal Church, Morton, IL.
He was an accomplished musician, often sharing his love for organ playing in churches and at competitions. He truly enjoyed playing the organ at St. Matthew’s Church in Bloomington, IL. Joe was an avid reader, a great cook, loved his pets, and loved planting flowers. He shared his compassion and God’s love through missionary work and worship.
His graveside service will be held on Saturday, October 3, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. at East Lawn Memorial Gardens, Bloomington, IL. A Celebration of Life will be held at 2:00 p.m. following the graveside service at Old Town Township Town Hall, 22034 E 1000 North Road (Cheneys Grove Road), Bloomington, IL.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the donor’s choice. Father Joe will be missed by his family, friends, and all who knew him.
Chillicothe First United Methodist Church is in need of an organist/pianist for weekly worship services. Our needs include playing organ and/or piano for a Saturday 5:00 pm service and a Sunday am service. The applicant would need to be proficient in order to play traditional hymns, prelude and postlude, as well as other worship music. Once our Voice Choir starts back in August, we will also need a pianist to accompany the choir and attend weekly evening practices. Ability to cover weddings and funerals on an occasional basis would also be a plus. While an ideal fit would be someone who can meet all of the above needs, we are open to filling this with multiple persons on a mutually agreeable schedule, as well as persons who are only proficient on piano. Interested parties should contact the church office at 309-274-5458 and be prepared to provide a listing of credentials such as training, playing experience, etc. as well as references.
On June 1 at 3 PM, Mr. Nicholas Liese will be giving a recital on the Berghaus organ at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington. The program will feature music from the early Baroque to the Classical period, including compositions by Buxtehude, Bach, and Mendelssohn. Admission to the recital is free. St. John’s is located at 1617 E. Emerson St. in Bloomington.
Nicholas is in his final year earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Organ Performance from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he studies under the tutelage of Dr. Dana Robinson. Prior to his time at the University of Illinois, Nicholas spent 2 years at Concordia University in Mequon, WI studying under Doctors John Behnke and James Freese. For the last two years, Nicholas has been serving as Organist, Liturgist, and Director of Bells Choirs at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington, IL. Recently he has been awarded and accepted the position of Organ Scholar at the Episcopal Chapel of St. John the Divine in Champaign, IL.
Jon Kroepel, director of music and organist at St. Mary’s, and Monty Bennett, concert organist, will be presenting a duo organ concert at 3 PM on Sunday, May 26th at St. Mary’s Cathedral. The concert will showcase a variety of organ compositions by American composers. A post-concert gathering will follow at Obed and Issac’s (321 NE Madison Avenue in Peoria).
St. Mary’s Cathedral is located at 607 NE Madison Avenue in Peoria.
The opening concert for this year’s Peoria Bach Festival will be an organ recital given by Caroline Robinson at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Friday, May 31 at 7:30 PM. The recital, also hosted as part of the Gretchen Iben Concert Series, will be Robinson’s Peoria debut as concert organist.
A native of Greenville, SC, Ms. Robinson earned the B.Mus. degree from the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and went on to study with Michel Bouvard in France under a Fulbright grant, earn a master of music degree at the Eastman School in Rochester, New York and currently is finishing her work as a candidate for the doctor of musical arts degree at Eastman. She is a masterful interpreter of the music of J.S. Bach as well as other important composers for the organ. In addition to her studies, she is the minister of music at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Pittsfield, New York. Last year she was chosen as one of the most important young organists under thirty years of age by the Diapason Magazine.
Westminster Presbyterian Church is located at 1420 Moss Avenue in Peoria. Admission to the concert is free.