Walter Stout in concert on Sunday

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.

Sunday’s program:

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

        IV.   Alleluia

                                                              Brief Intermission

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

        VI.   Finale

Evening Pipe Organ Exploration

Please join us on Friday, April 26 at 7 PM for an exciting evening of pipe organ exploration featuring the organ at St. Mary’s Cathedral here in Peoria. 

The event, hosted by Jon Kroepel, will include both a brief recital and a presentation given by Keith Williams of John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Builders of Champaign on the history of the organ and its recent renovation and restoration by Buzard.  Recitalists for the evening will be Gary Black, David Byrkit, Adam Gerik, Walter Stout, and Keith Williams.  This event will also include an opportunity to see the innards of the pipe organ.  Admission is free.

Organ console and Great division pipes at St. Mary’s

There will be a post-event gathering at Obed and Isacc’s (321 NE Madison).

St. Mary’s Cathedral is located at 607 NE Madison Avenue in Peoria.

AGO Midwinter Hymn Fest on Sunday, February 24

The Peoria Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, in conjunction with Lutheran Hillside Village Chapel Staff, announce a Midwinter Hymn Fest on Sunday, February 24 at 3:00 pm.  This event will feature David Byrkit, organist; Ashlie Schlatweiler, soprano; and Stephanie Ashton, flautist. 

The hymn fest will incorporate a number of favorite hymns sung by participants with special music by our featured soloists. This service will be led by Rev. Pat Monroe. 

Join us in celebrating the gift of music made possible with the Rodger’s organ donated by Ben Sommer in memory of his wife, Phoebe Sommer. Also congratulate David Byrkit on his 60 years as a member of the American Guild of Organists. 

Lutheran Hillside Village chapel is located on the second floor at 6901 N. Galena Rd., Peoria. 

A reception will follow in the Galena Room. 

For further information, contact David Byrkit at or 309-637-1283

David Byrkit, Ben Sommer, and Rev. Pat Monroe at the organ in Living Waters Chapel

David Byrkit, organist, was the Director of Music at Peoria’s Westminster Presbyterian Church retiring in 2014 after eight years in that position.  He earned his bachelors at Bradley University with post graduate studies in music at Texas Christian University, Southern Methodist University, Brooklyn Conservatory, Juilliard, and Mannes School of Music in NYC.  David was an organist choirmaster in the Greater New York City area for 25 years.

Ashlie Schlatweiler, soprano, is originally from the St. Louis area. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in K-12 Vocal Music Education from Bradley University in 2013. She has taught general music, band, and chorus at St. Mark Catholic School, Trewyn School, Putnam County Junior High and Elementary Schools, and St. Joseph Catholic School in Central Illinois. She has been singing with the Westminster Presbyterian Choir since 2009, and was promoted to soloist and soprano section leader in 2016. She has been a voice and piano instructor at the Louisiana Academy of Performing Arts and Kidder Music in Peoria, Illinois since 2014. She is currently working on graduate studies in Music Therapy in fall 2018 and expects to begin internship in 2020.

Stephanie Ashton, flautist, first learned to play flute through Peoria Public Schools, beginning in fifth grade.  She continued in the band program at Richwoods High School, during which time she also had the privilege of studying privately under Denise Cooksey. She then learned the piccolo and spent four years at the University of Illinois performing in the Marching Illini and Basketball Band ensembles, as well as various concert bands.  Since graduation, Stephanie has served as a substitute flautist for the Peoria Municipal Band and has occasionally performed at Westminster Presbyterian Church.  Stephanie is the granddaughter of long-time Hillside Village resident Jim Ashton.

Monty Bennett to Present a Recital and Workshop in April

R. Monty Bennett

Monty Bennett is coming to Peoria to present both a recital and a workshop sponsored by the Peoria Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.  The recital will be at St. Mary’s Cathedral on Friday, April 13 at 7:30 PM.  Concert admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors; children and students are free.

On Saturday, April 14 he will be presenting a workshop at the Lutheran Hillside Village Chapel beginning at 11 AM.  The topic will be adapting piano accompaniment and contemporary music to the organ.  Admission for the workshop is free.


R. Monty Bennett began musical studies at an early age in his native California.  A graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara, he was a student of Dr. James Welch, with whom he studied organ, carillon and harpsichord.  Early keyboard studies were under the tutelage of William Bagileo, Herbert Nanney of Stanford University, and Dr. Roger Nyquist, of Santa Clara University.

Monty has performed around the world as an organist, accompanist and conductor.  In 2005, he made his European debut playing a recital for the 22nd International Festival of Organists in Turin, Italy, where he played the European première of a collection of African-American spirituals by Calvin Taylor.  He has performed for numerous chapters of the American Guild of Organists, as well as playing at major churches and universities across the county.  He is a carillonneur and played his first European carillon recital on the 70 bell instrument installed at the Chapel of the Dukes of Savoy, Chambéry, France.

As the Associate Minister of Music/Organist at Calvary Church, Charlotte, NC, he presided at the Calvary Grand Moller Pipe Organ, one of the largest musical instruments in the world. For 10 years, he served as the Principal Organist at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina, where he designed and dedicated the five manual, 168 stop, Fratelli Ruffatti pipe organ.  Monty is the Membership/Outreach Director and Music Director at Temple Israel and the Music Director/Organist at Park Road Baptist Church, both in Charlotte, NC.  In light of his musical accomplishments, he is listed in Who’s Who in America and has been featured on the renowned American Public Media broadcast Pipedreams.

An active member of the American Guild of Organists from the age of 13, Monty holds the Colleague certification of the AGO and has served on the Board of the Charlotte Chapter, where he coordinated the chapter’s nationally acclaimed Summer Recital Series.

He is represented by Concert Artist Cooperative


Recital: Cathedral of St. Mary
Friday, April 13, 2018 at 7:30 PM
607 NE Madison Ave. • Peoria, IL 61603
Admission: $10 Adults / $8 Senior Citizens / Children and Students Free


Workshop: Lutheran Hillside Village Chapel
Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 11 AM
6901 N Galena Rd • Peoria, IL 61614
Admission is Free

Martin Dicke to Present a Hymn Festival on Friday, November 18 at 7 p.m.

Martin DickeDr. Martin Dicke will present a hymn festival titled “Hymns for November” at Trinity Lutheran Church, 135 NE Randolph Avenue in Peoria, on November 18 at 7 p.m.  The opening concert for this year’s Trinity Concert Series, the festival will include hymns often sung at this time of year, from Reformation into Advent.  He will also be joined by a brass ensemble to perform two of his own compositions.

Martin Dicke, along with his wife Marie, are preparing to head to Papua New Guinea to work as missionaries for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  Dr. Dicke’s work there will particularly focus on worship and music instruction at Timothy Lutheran Seminary and training musicians in the churches there.  A free-will offering will be collected during the hymn festival to help support their work in Papua New Guinea.

Trinity Lutheran Church

135 NE Randolph Avenue • Peoria, Illinois 61606 • (309) 676-4609

Free-will offering will be taken

Fourth of July Organ Recital in Eureka

An organ recital will be held at Eureka Christian Church, 302 South Main Street in Eureka, on July 4 at 11:30 a.m.  A program of patriotic and American music, the recital will be the first performance for the general public since the restoration of the church’s Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ.  Performers for the recital will include Sherry Seckler, Jon Kroepel, and John Orfe.

The two manual Aeolian-Skinner was originally installed at Eureka Christian in 1936, designed to be enlarged later on.  In 1964 and 1965 the instrument was rebuilt and the intended additions to the organ’s pipes were made.  Restoration of the 15 rank pipe organ was completed last year by John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Builders.

Eureka Christian Church

302 South Main Street • Eureka, IL 61530 • 309-467-2369

Admission is free

James Kibbie to Perform at Westminster Presbyterian Church on Sunday, June 5 at 7:30 p.m.

James Kibbie
James Kibbie

Dr. James Kibbie will be presenting some of Bach’s organ works at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1420 West Moss Avenue in Peoria, on Sunday, June 5 at 7:30 p.m.  The concert is being hosted as part of the Gretchen Iben Concert Series at Westminster, and will also be the opening concert for this year’s Peoria Bach Festival.  The program will present a sampling of Bach’s genius, presenting works in a variety of forms ranging from a recently-authenticated work from his teenage years to familiar masterworks, including the iconic Toccata and Fugue in D Minor.

Dr. Kibbie is Chair of the Department of Organ and University Organist at the University of Michigan.  He maintains a full schedule of concerts, recording, and festival engagements throughout North America and Europe, including appearances at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, Royal Festival Hall in London, Dvořak Hall in Prague, and Lincoln Center in New York.  A frequent jury member of international organ competitions, he has won prestigious competitions in Chartres, France and Prague, Czech Republic.  His recent recordings of the complete Bach works on historic baroque organs in Germany have been welcomed with enthusiastic critical and audience acclaim.  The University of Michigan is offering these recordings to the public as free internet downloads at

Westminster Presbyterian Church
1420 West Moss Avenue • Peoria, IL 61606 • 309-673-8501
Admission is free

Diane Bish Returns to Peoria on Sunday, May 15

Diane BishWorld renowned artist, Diane Bish, returns to First United Methodist Church, Peoria (FUMC) for a concert on Sunday, May 15 at 4:00 p.m. She performed there previously during the 1988-89 Concert Artist Series of the Peoria Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. As part of the FUMC 2015-16 Music Series, this concert will feature a variety of repertoire and will include the FUMC Sanctuary Choir. The intricate choreography of Ms. Bish’s hands and feet will be displayed on the Sanctuary screen.

The concert is free and open to the public, however, tickets will be required. Tickets are available from the church office or by clicking here. Co-sponsors of the concert are the Peoria Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Builders.

Diane Bish is the most visible and influential classical organist performing today. Concert and recording artist, composer, conductor, and international television personality, she displays her dazzling virtuosity and unique showmanship the world over to international acclaim. Her organ performances are hailed as “stunning, virtuoso, fiery, and astonishing.”

Diane’s unparalleled achievements as a young performer gave her the credibility and determination to launch The Joy of Music international television series in 1982 as a platform for awareness and appreciation of “the king of instruments.” Broadcast to over 300 million people around the world each week, The Joy of Music combines exhilarating organ and ensemble performances with an informative, inspirational narrative and exciting world travel. The Joy of Music boasts over 500 episodes featuring famous cathedrals, concert halls, churches and organs. This tremendous outreach to the general public on behalf of the organ and Diane Bish’s longevity as a leading recitalist distinguishes her in the world of music.

In 1989, Diane was awarded the National Citation by the National Federation of Music Clubs of America. Considered to be the Federation’s highest honor, Diane Bish shares this rare distinction with such legends as Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Ormandy, Van Cliburn, Robert Shaw, Irving Berlin and Fred Waring in receiving this award “for distinguished service to the musical, artistic, and cultural life of the nation.”

A consummate church musician, Diane Bish served as senior organist and artist-in-residence at the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for over 20 years. While at Coral Ridge Church, she led the design of the 117-rank Ruffatti organ, distinguished as one of the great organs in America. She was instrumental in developing one of the country’s first church concert series and creating an annual church music workshop for musicians around the world. In her book Church Music Explosion, Diane shares her philosophy of excellence in church music.

Diane has recorded on the foremost organs of the world and was the first American woman to record on the four organs of Freiburg Cathedral, Germany. Featured on over 30 of her recordings are music for organ and orchestra, brass and organ, great organ masterpieces, organ and harp, original works, and hymn arrangements.

The sparkling creativity and artistry of Diane Bish is equally evident in her compositions. She has composed numerous solo pieces, arrangements, and full symphonic works that have received much acclaim and are performed regularly due to her ability to combine musical quality with accessibility.

Her list of creative projects also includes the Diane Bish Signature Series by Allen line of digital organs. Working closely with the technicians and designers at Allen Organ Company, Diane beautifully combined her musical vision and expertise with the superior technical design of the Allen Organ. Many Diane Bish Signature Series Organs have been installed around the country and are available through the Allen Organ Company.

Diane Bish began her study with Dorothy Addy in Wichita, Kansas, and continued as a student of Mildred Andrews. She was a recipient of Fulbright and French government grants for study in Amsterdam and Paris with Nadia Boulanger, Gustav Leonhardt and Marie Claire Alain. Diane Bish: First Lady of the Organ by Warren Woodruff was published in 1993. Diane Bish is represented worldwide by JEJ Artists.

For more information on Diane, please visit


First United Methodist Church
116 NE Perry Avenue • Peoria, IL 61603 • 309.673.3641
Free admission, but tickets required
To acquire your free ticket, please call the number above or visit

National Lutheran Choir Concert in Peoria

National Lutheran ChoirOn Friday, February 19 at 7:00 p.m. the National Lutheran Choir (, as semi-professional choir from Minneapolis led by artistic director and organist David Cherwien, presents a unique blend of choral music, spoken reflections and congregational hymnody on the Trinity Concert Series at Trinity Lutheran Church, 135 NE Randolph Ave, Peoria, IL 61606. For more information or directions, please visit or call (309) 676-4609. The concert is free (a free-will offering will be taken to offset the choir’s expenses). For a poster of the concert, please click here.

Experience the artistry of the National Lutheran Choir as they perform songs of faith, and join together in singing well-known – and perhaps new – hymns with the choir! This special concert features works by James Miller, Moses Hogan, Andre Thomas, as well as Stanford and Cherwien. The choir was founded in 1986 by Dr. Larry Fleming and is celebrating its 30th anniversary. It seeks to strengthen, renew and preserve the heritage of sacred choral music through the highest standards of performance and literature. The choir performs literature from the entire spectrum of sacred choral music, with and without instrumental accompaniment. The choir’s rich and diverse repertoire ranges from early chant to new compositions and from simple folk anthems to complex orchestral masterworks. Members of the National Lutheran Choir are drawn from the Minneapolis/St. Paul area and beyond for weekly rehearsals and local and national performances. The ensemble presents a wide range of choral works in concert and worship settings, leads workshops in choral techniques, hymnody and liturgy, commissions and publishes new compositions, and broadcasts and records extensively.

David CherweinDavid Cherwien, artistic director of the National Lutheran Choir, is a nationally known conductor, composer and organist. Recognized for his contributions to the field of church music and liturgy, he is in demand as a clinician and hymn festival leader across the country. David serves as Cantor at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, a parish known for its passion for creative high quality liturgy and music. He also serves as editor of the National Lutheran Choir Series of choral music published by Morningstar Music Publishers. David is a founding member of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians and has served in its leadership in a variety of capacities, including as National President from 1993 to 1997. He is a member of the American Choral Director’s Association, American Guild of Organists, Chorus America and Choristers Guild. David holds the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ performance and the Master of Arts degree in Theory and Composition from the University of Minnesota. In the Fall of 2000, he was honored as a “Distinguished Alumnus” by Augsburg College (Minneapolis, MN), where he studied choral music education and organ performance as an undergraduate. David also spent two years at the Berlin Church Music School studying conducting, composition and organ.David Cherwien is the 2007 winner of the Raabe Prize for Excellence in Sacred Composition for his piece “The Souls of the Righteous.”

The Peoria Chapter of the American Guild of Organists is helping to underwrite this event.