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 david@byrkit.net 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 http://www.concertartistcooperative.com.


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

Kapelle from Concordia University Chicago to Perform in Pekin

The Kapelle from Concordia University Chicago, under the direction of Dr. Charles Brown, will present a concert at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 711 Court Street in Pekin, on Friday, October 23 at 7 PM. The performance is part of the choir’s Fall tour, with a program titled “God is Love’: Music for Reformation and All Saints.” A freewill offering will be taken.


Kapelle is the premier choral ensemble of the university, with members chosen by audition and including both music majors and those focusing on other fields of study. Each year the choir embarks on tours in the Fall and Spring, traveling to different regions of the U.S., in addition to participation in the university’s annual Service of Lessons and Carols and other performance opportunities. Every four years the Kapelle also completes an international tour, most recently touring in Poland last spring. In addition, the ensemble has produced eleven recordings of sacred music.


Dr. Charles Brown is in his fourteenth year as director of choral activities at Concordia University Chicago where he conducts Kapelle and also Männerchor. He earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of Arizona in choral conducting and voice performance. At Concordia, he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in conducting, choral literature, singer’s diction, applied voice, aural skills, and choral music education. Brown is also regularly involved in festivals and workshops throughout the country, serves on the board of the American Choral Directors Association Central Division, and has been active in the Chicago area singing bass-baritone roles, specializing in Baroque oratorio music.


Concordia University Chicago is a liberal arts-based university affiliated with the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and a member of the Concordia University System. Founded in 1864 as a teacher’s college, the university now offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs in education, the arts and sciences, and business. The academic institution also continues to prepare individuals for service to the church as Lutheran school teachers, Directors of Christian Education, Deaconesses, and church musicians.

Walter Stout in Concert and Peoria AGO Meeting

We would like to invite you to a special organ concert featuring Walter Stout on Sunday, October 4 at 3:00 p.m. at Bethel Lutheran Church, 200 Colona Ave., Bartonville on their newly renovated Casavant organ. The concert will feature music of John Knowles Paine, Dietrich Buxtehude, J. S. Bach, Marcel Dupré, and Louis Vierne. Julie Clemens will join him to sing Mozart’s Exsultate, Jubilate, KV 165 (158a) in Walter’s own transcription.

This concert will be the first event of the 2015-16 Peoria AGO Concert Artist Series. The concert will be followed by a short Peoria AGO meeting and a chapter dinner. To attend the dinner, please RSVP to this e-mail or call Martin Dicke at (309) 696-4797.

Walter J. Stout is a Peoria AGO member who has served as organist at Bethel since November 2010. A church musician since 1976, he has served churches ranging in size from 12 members to 1,500 families in Texas, Oklahoma and Illinois. He holds degrees in Music performance from Texas State University, San Marcos, and the University of Tulsa, Tulsa, Oklahoma and completed post-graduate work at the University of North Texas and the University of Oklahoma. He began work as Bethel’s parish secretary in January, 2013. He also serves as an Adjunct professor of Musicianship and Class Piano at Illinois Central College in East Peoria.