Monthly programs for 2020 – 2021

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, all in person meetings have been canceled for the present time.
The meetings listed will be available online

Here is the lineup of AGO meetings for this season, 2020-2021. Our meetings take place at various venues throughout the area and are typically the third Monday evening of the month although there are certainly exceptions. We generally begin with a punch bowl and social time at 6:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 7:00 p.m.  

The cost for dinner is $15 and to encourage attendance by younger members the board has underwritten the cost of meals for all AGO members and guests under the age of 30.  The cost of these meals will come from a dedicated fund that has been recently established for this purpose.

The program portion of the meeting follows at 8:00 p.m. and all programs are open to the public. On occasion free-will offerings will be accepted at the conclusion of some evening programs.

Dinner reservations are requested by the Wednesday prior to the meeting and members will be called by the Executive Council. You may also make your reservation by emailing or calling our Treasurer, Errol Shewman at 616-307-7241.

Online Masterclass with Elizabeth West 

March 22, 2021, 7:00 p.m.

LaGrave Avenue CRC Organ
Austin-Allen Organ 1996

Franck–Prelude, Fugue, and Variation (focus on the fugue & variation)

Grigny–Recit de Tierce en Taille

Gigout–Toccata in B minor

Click on links to download the scores
These scores are from the IMSLP Petrucci Music Library and are in the Public Domain


Here is the link to the online program: 
The link will be active on March 22 at 7:00 p.m.

Dr. Elizabeth (Claar) West serves as an assistant organist at La Grave Avenue CRC, following 11 years as organist at Trinity Lutheran Church. She has taught organ and theory at Hope College and Cornerstone University, and this semester she is teaching organ literature at Hope, where she is also a staff accompanist. In addition, she teaches private organ students of all ages. Dr. West earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Houghton College in New York and her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Michigan. She also completed a certificate in music theory pedagogy. Her organ teachers have been James Kibbie, the late Robert Glasgow, Huw Lewis, William Haller, Judy Congdon, and Susan Klotzbach. In addition, she studied harpsichord with Edward Parmentier. West directed two highly successful Pipe Organ Encounters at Hope College for the American Guild of Organists, and she served on the national AGO Committee on the New Organist, which supervises all Pipe Organ Encounters. Dr. West spent the 2006-2007 school year in Armenia, where she immersed herself in Armenian culture and researched Armenian organ music. She resides in Holland with her husband and son.



Friday, April 9, 2021

Online Program 

April 9, 2021, 7:30 p.m. 

Margaret Sandresky Concert 100th Birthday Celebration

Rhonda Sider Edgington, Organ

Calvin University Chapel

Dobson Opus 44, 1989

The program will be livestreamed at this time:

Due to the current state of COVID-19 in the State of Michigan the concert at the Cathedral of St. Andrew for April 24th has been postponed.

The video of the program which was livestreamed from Calvin University may be viewed here:

April 24, 2021, 8:00 p.m.

Repeat of program at The Cathedral of St. Andrew

Orgues Letourneau, Ltee. Opus  77, 2002

The Music of Margaret Sandresky – An American Original

Margaret Sandresky will turn 100 years old in April 2021.  This American composer has been commissioned to contribute pieces for multiple AGO National and Regional conventions over many decades.  She was awarded the AGO Distinguished Composer Award in 2004.  Sandresky studied composition at Salem College, Eastman School of Music, and under a Fulbright scholarship in Germany.  She taught composition at Oberlin, University of Texas-Austin, headed the organ department at Salem College, and founded the organ department at the North Carolina School for the Arts.  After retiring in 1986, she has concentrated more on composing, and is still going strong, with the latest volume of her organ works published in 2018!

Her compositions range from larger cycles, based on sacred and secular themes, to variation sets, and many hymn settings, practical and useful for weekly Sunday preludes and postludes.  She has a uniquely American style that is both accessible and innovative.  I’ve performed her works around the US and in Germany, and never fail to hear appreciative comments from both organists and non-musicians alike.  I’m looking forward to introducing her music to a wider audience, and celebrating this gracious, Southern pioneer in our field by performing a concert (or two) of her works this April in Grand Rapids, to celebrate her 100th birthday.  

Because of the state of the world, (and in spite of the difficulty of planning anything), I’ve made two possible plans for April, hopeful that at least one, and maybe both might work out – but aware that anything is possible, and perhaps neither will.  On Friday, April 9 at 7:30pm, I hope to perform live from the Calvin University Chapel, where I teach organ, on their Dobson pipe organ.  The campus and chapel will not be open for non-students or staff, but this concert will be broadcast in a livestream on their event site –

Hopefully a small group of students and staff can also attend this concert live as well.  

On Saturday, April 24 at 7 pm, I will be performing a repeat of the concert on the Letourneau at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, (provided that the Cathedral is open to the public for events at this time), thanks to the generosity of Matthew Jakubisin, Director of Music and the staff of the Cathedral.

These concerts will include a wide variety of styles and time periods of her output – including Sandreky’s early Mass d’homme arme from 1979 (included in her very first volume of organ works), the programmatic Five Sacred Dances from her middle period, and the Prelude, Aria, and Finale from 2012, included in the most recent volume of her organ works.  All ten volumes of her works are published by Wayne Leupold.  We will also enjoy some of her shorter chorale and hymn settings interspersed between these larger cycles.  I think organists will hear many individual movements and shorter pieces that would be easy enough to learn for regular Sunday services, and greatly enjoyed by their congregations.  

In preparation for these concerts, I would like to introduce a few of Sandresky’s works to you all – who may or may not be familiar with her oeuvre.  We’ll start with volume 4 of her complete works, which is full of hymn settings.  From this volume, I have played the Meditation on Amazing Grace very often, on concerts and for church.  I have found that a new and unusual setting of a very familiar hymn like this really gets audiences’ attention.  This setting is full of unexpected harmonies and chord changes, and I hear comments often from listeners who have enjoyed this piece.  

Six Variations on a Ground Bass is the one piece from this volume that is not hymn based.  This piece was originally written for a very small, historic instrument, and while modified since then for this version, is still very practical for a smaller organ with limited resources.  It is not technically difficult, but each variation calls for distinctive colors, with its own charming character.  This worked very well on a recital I played one a one manual, tracker organ with limited pedal, though could be played on larger instruments as well.  A Wreath of Carols is a collage of various Christmas hymn settings, pulled together in an attractive larger piece.  This was lovely on an Advent recital at Mayflower (it can end very big and dramatically), but could also be very practical if you need to prepare a longer Christmas Eve prelude, with a bit less sound at the end.  Ein Feste Burg is a short setting of the hymn A Mighty Fortress, written in a Baroque style, complete with counterpoint – it almost sounds like Buxtehude, but with a bit more adventurous harmonies.  This might be perfect for Reformation, if you’re tired of always pulling out the Pachelbel!  

If you are curious about Sandresky’s works, Wayne Leupold has a very helpful website, that includes the ability to click on previews of the score and see one page of each piece.  If you would like to look further at some of these works, follow this link.