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.

Peoria Bach Festival 2019 Organ Recital on May 31

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.

Caroline Robinson, 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.

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