Upcoming concert on the organ works of Florence Price

On Friday, May 12th at 7:30 p.m., Dr. Jon Giblin will present an organ recital on the music of Florence Price at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Peoria.

Born in Arkansas in 1888, Price’s music is influenced by her black cultural upbringing. At age 15, she was accepted to the prestigious New England Conservatory in Boston studying organ, piano, and composition. She moved to Chicago in 1927 where she taught music, played organ for silent movies, and composed numerous works. Her First Symphony won a national competition in 1932 and was subsequently premiered by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; becoming the first work of an African-American woman to be performed by a major orchestra.

Despite this and other successes, Price’s gender and race hampered her career as a composer. Recent interest in Price’s music has brought to light her unique compositional style, including discoveries of several long-lost works.

Dr. Giblin will be performing all four of Price’s major organ works; the Passacaglia and Fugue, Sonata for Organ, Suite for Organ, and Variations on a Folksong. Much of this music has only been made publicly available in the past 2 years.

This free recital is presented by the Peoria Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

Upcoming premiere of new organ work by Dr. John C. Orfe

The Peoria Chapter of the American Guild of Organists is pleased to present the inaugural concert of a multi-year endowment to promote the development of 21st century organ literature. Dr. John C. Orfe will perform an organ recital at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1420 W. Moss Ave. in Peoria, on Friday evening, March 31, at 7:30 p.m. The program will feature a world premiere by Dr. Orfe alongside works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Johannes Brahms, Camille Saint-Saëns, and Sir James MacMillan.

Sir James MacMillan, whose choral anthem “Who Shall Separate Us” was memorably sung at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, is represented by his brilliant and colorful stand-alone Toccata. Johannes Brahms’ stand-alone Fugue in A-flat minor is a distillation of highly expressive (and highly advanced!) contrapuntal study. Camille Saint-Saëns, justly celebrated for his “Organ” Symphony, proves equally excellent in his music for solo organ, here represented by the Prelude and Fugue in E-flat major, Op. 99, No. 3. Of particular significance on the program is Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 538 (“Dorian”), whose scope, architectural design, and virtuosity exceed Bach’s more famous piece in the same key.

Admission for this concert is free. However, free-will offerings will be accepted for the continued support of the Peoria AGO Chapter.

Registration open for Great Lakes Regional Convention

Mark your calendars for the upcoming Great Lakes Regional Convention of the American Guild of Organists, a short three hour drive from Peoria.

Hosted by the North Shore Chapter in Evanston, Illinois, it’ll take place from June 25-28, 2023. Featured performers will be Eric Budzynski, Vincent Dubois, Nicole Keller, Aaron David Miller and many more additional performers.

Click here for more details on this upcoming organ conference!

Loretta M. Dirst, 1932 – 2022

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.

Katelyn Emerson in free concert

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
Peoria, Illinois

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

Jack Becker, 1931 – 2021

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.

Fr. Joe Dunlap, 1949 – 2020

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 FUMC looking for organist/pianist

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.

Nicholas Liese to Present an Organ Recital on June 1

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 Liese, organist

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.

American Organ Music Concert at St. Mary’s on May 26

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.