American Guild of Organists
Evansville Chapter Newsletter
Evansville AGO Pipe Logo

November 17, 2000
Wheeler Concert Hall
7:30 pm.

James Diaz, First Place prize winner of the second Dallas International Organ Competition and Gold Medal  Concerto Prize winner of the second Calgary International Organ Competition, will perform in the university of Evansville's Wheeler Concert #all on November 17 at 7:30 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Evansville and University of Evansville AGO chapters in cooperation with the University of Evansville Organ Series.

Admission for adults is $10. UE students with ID and high school and younger students will be admitted free. In response to our AGO Mission Statement, the Evansville AGO chapters are committed to promoting the organ in this most basic of ways: sponsoring a public concert by one of the nation's outstanding
young performers.

James Diaz graduated summa cum laude

from the University of Michigan where he studied organ with Robert Glasgow and piano with Dickran Atamian. He holds a Master's degree in Organ Performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music where he studied with Todd Wilson and worked with Karel Paukert as assistant organist at St. Paul's Episcopal Church. Following service as assistant organist and choirmaster at Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis, in 1998 he was appointed organist and Choirmaster of St. Michael and All Angels Church in Dallas, one of the largest membership Episcopal churches in the United Sates.

He maintains an active performance schedule in both the United States and Europe, where he has performed at Festivals in France, Switzerland, and England As part of the prize for the Dallas International Organ Competition, Mr. Diaz will appear as a soloist with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in the world premier Of Joseph Schwantner's Concerto for Organ and Orchestra. 

He will record for the Delos label on the Lay Family Organ at the Meyerson Center in Dallas. He previously recorded Gunther Schulier's Concerto for Organ and Orchestra with the Calgary Philharmonic as part of the Calgary Competition prize. He is represented by Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists.

The Executive Committee urges all members to attend what will surely be an outstanding event, to invite a friend or colleague, and to make a financial contribution if unable to attend We dream that this will be an ALL member event, and that Wheeler Concert Hall will be filledto capacity for the concert.

A reception will follow the concert in the Art Gallery of the Krannert Hall of Fine Arts.

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    The October 14 Progressive Organ Study Tour was very well attended, and a good time was had by all. As we had hoped, the weather was beautiful for the late afternoon drive to Maple Mount, Kentucky. After meeting at Mount Saint Joseph Ursuline Motherhouse Chapel for a donstration of the Taylor & Boody organ, the group proceded to the Moonlite BarBQ in Owensboro for dinner. 

    The event continued at St. Stephen's Roman Catholic Cathedral where we heard and played the 1947 Wicks organ. The group then went on to Central Presbyterian Church and heard the refined and delicate tones of an early 20th century mechanical action organ built by Henry Pilcher & Sons, Louisville. 

    Many thanks to the Ursuline Sisters at Maple Mount; to Michael Conley, Music Director and Organist of St. Stephen's Cathedral; and to the people of Central Presbyterian Church for welcoming us so enthusiastically...and for looking after what is surely a significant historical musical treasure. 


  How Are They Singing...............................
  ........and speaking? 

    This is the final part in a 3-part series devoted to aspects of congregational singing: why, what, and how people sing.

  How IS the congregation singing? Well, probably alright. Or maybe not all that well if it¹s the typical situation. And certainly not as if their lives, not to mention their spiritual lives, depended on it. If you wonder how or why people would sing as if or because their lives depended on it, please see the article reprinted in last February¹s issue of this newsletter. 

   Some may ask ³WHY isn¹t the singing more enthusiastic?² Part of the answer may be in the nature (especially the rhythm) of the accompaniment, the quality of sound from the accompanying instrument, the spirit or energy of the service, the nature of the music itself, or the worship tradition of a 

particular group.

   However, there is often a more fundamental reason for less-than-enthusiastic congregational singing: acoustics. 

   Here are some basic acoustical facts about congregational singing and room acoustics.  The congregational singer needs to have the feeling that his/her voice is joined, blended with other voices. This is the opposite of feeling like one is singing a solo. The best acoustic provides an environment where one¹s singing voice almost disappears as it blends into the energy around it.   This is a joyful, freeing experience where one is able to pour out vocal energy and where one ceases to be aware of one¹s own voice. More to the point, one ceases to be aware of one¹s SELF, as each individual voice blends with and enhances the corporate voice. The freedom experienced in this "effortless" effort is especially important. 

   Please note the significance and symbolism of this act of losing one¹s self while contributing positive, creative energy toward a larger purpose, a more unified and more beautiful whole. For this unified sound mass to develop, the energy coming from all the voices must resonate in the space. What this necessitates is reflective surfaces (pews, floors, walls, ceilings) rather than absorptive ones. 

    What is it that puts a damper on this sound energy, on the congregation¹s fulfilling its potential of praising God to the best of its ability as a unified whole? The widespread demands of secular culture/religion call for the comfort of the cushioned easy chair in the pew, the luxurious feel of carpet under the feet in the aisle, and the sound of electronically enhanced voices broadcast through loudspeakers.  These elements corrupt our sensitivity and appreciation of the un-enhanced sound of the natural singing and speaking voice by deadening the acoustics of the rooms in which we sing. 

   Indeed, the main acoustical issue for most people is whether or not they can understand the spoken word.  Ironically, the arts of declamation and public speaking are often undermined by the very thing which supposedly assists them: the modern speech

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reinforcement system. Under the illusion that microphone and loudspeakers will solve everything, those who speak often mumble, talk too quickly, and drop final syllables and consonants. 

  In a live acoustic, this type of "public speaking" is indeed very difficult to understand. Even with a loud-speaker turned up full blast, however, this type of "communication" accomplishes little. Indeed, where poor public speaking (and listening) are the rule, one is apt to hear complaints about even the most excellent, efficient, and sophisticated speech reinforcement systems. 

  The truth is that lazy public speaking is poor even in a tiny room where ³acoustics² are not an issue. Good public speaking whether in a small room, a large room, or in a 100,000 seat stadium, requires imagination, energy, practice, good pacing, and the will to be understood, to communicate something. 

  Alas, we live in an era when the microphone, and especially the wireless mike has become an icon, even an idol for those who wish to be, or at least appear to be sophisticated and ³up-to-date² in all things. 

  Many people have become addicted to electronically enhanced sound. This addiction is having a wide-spread negative effect on many aspects of worship including our need to communicate the word clearly, our need for silence and quietness, and, especially, on our need as a congregation to sing freely. 

  Often these days, speech reinforcement systems strain to overcome the inattention of 
casual hearers (as opposed to listeners) of the word. Loudspeakers continue to sprout from the walls, ceilings, and seats, as more and more churches adopt the sanctuary-as-TV-studio and sanctuary-as-entertainment-studio models. Sometimes when I am bombarded by church loud-speakers, news reel images of sound-trucks and loud-speakers mounted on street lamps and fence posts pop into my head. I wonder, "Is the message of peace, justice, and quiet joy taught...or discovered...through a medium whose main advantage is enabling easy listening or

forcing people to listen?" 

  With appropriate attention given to the ART of public speaking and communication of THE WORD as well as the needs of corporate action (particularly singing) in worship, there need be no conflict over acoustics. 

  We church musicians need to be willing to risk putting what we know from our training and experience on the discussion table when the subjects of acoustics comes up. It is up to us musicians and others who will think about these things, to learn, to teach, and to continue to talk about these issues. 

  The work of doing this is truly part of our calling as church musicians and leaders. This work may involve coaching readers how to speak and project their voices clearly with or without the assistance of speech reinforcement systems. 

   Many of us know from pivotal experiences that excellent congregational singing in live acoustics can be life changing. Experiencing it requires no further need of explanation as to its value and why people have always sung their praises together. 

    Let us all resolve to do what we can to educate others as to the value of good, live acoustics for fostering excellent congregational singing. Let us also do what we can to encourage thoughtful public speaking and appropriate use of speech reinforcement systems. SOLI DEO GLORIA!


  Please send news and calendar items to your newsletter editor:


  The Evansville Chapter is growing! As of this writing, we have NINE new full-time, voting members. These include: William Barnett, Dennis Carr, James Culver, Kevin Ellerbusch, Kristin Jones, Charlie McGary, Sean Raley, Kurt von Schakel, and Robert Whitaker. 

  Membership directories will be available at the James Diaz concert on November 17.

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10 Bach's Double
     University of
     Neu Chapel
     7:30 p.m.

17 JAMES DIAZ, organist
  Winner of the 2000 Dallas 
  International Organ Competition
  Wheeler Concert Hall
  University of Evansville
  7:30 p.m. 

30 First Presbyterian Church Choir, 
  Robert Nicholls, director
  Choral Vespers
  University of Evansville
  Neu Chapel
  5:45 p.m.

  Please send calendar items to:


The purpose of the American Guild of Organists is to promote the organ and its music in their historic and evolving roles,  to encourage excellence in the performance of organ and choral music,  and to provide a forum for mutual support, inspiration, and certification of Guild members.