Evansville AGO Pipe
Evansville AGO
Newsletter of the American Guild of Organists 
Evansville, Indiana Chapter
November 2006



It was November 18, 1919. The Evansville newspapers had for several days given a running account of the installation of the 4-manual M.P. Möller organ in the Evansville Coliseum. And now the big day had come when the gigantic organ would be dedicated. The Courier waxed eloquently about the first try-out in the middle of the previous night:

Thundering liked caged spirits at the gates of the pit, with the supernatural howlings of tempestous [sic] furies; then with the cooing of the mildest zephyrs, swiftly changing again to the brasses of pillared gates clashing and the roar of the giant batteries—and again changing without effort to the Aeolian sweetness of the wind harp—that, mildly, is Evansville’s organ answering the touch of Prof. Gillette.

Midnight brought to quiet Evansville a new spirit, a spirit of music that halted the night wanderer plodding home and verily swept all the wide spaces before the Coliseum.  Time and again the little audience was swayed into applause as the organ showed a new facet.

After describing the effect of several pieces tried out by municipal organist, James Gillette, the paper continued:

Then the great oratorio piece, the Hallelujah Chorus thundered out.  The depth and literally [sic] smash of the organ’s powers were felt for the first time.  The waves of sound battered against the walls of the auditorium and came back to meet other waves still more powerful and the air seethed with the battling harmonies. And yet the melody was clear and distinct, one could follow the theme in spite of the tremendous volume.  Softened by the intervening walls, from the street the music was enthralling.  There are no words to describe the utter, sheer beauty of the music.  Evansville has never before had such music, simply because there is not such music available except in such an organ.

It is impossible for us modern listeners to imagine a time when the installation of a pipe organ would create such excitement. We need to remember that the recording industry and radio broadcasts were in their infancy. There was no Evansville Philharmonic. It was still the pipe organ that was on the cutting edge of musical technology, a symbol of high culture, and a way of bringing music of all kinds to audiences. Evansville joined cities across the country who were installing large pipe organs in municipal auditoriums.

It is also difficult to imagine the enthusiasm and cooperation among community leaders and groups for raising funds to purchase the Milton Tinker Memorial Organ two years earlier. The week of April 10, 1917, was filled with special programs, called a Fanfaronade, at the recently built Coliseum. The Hadi Shriners and the Rotary Club took the lead. Most of the children in public schools took part in special presentations, and the Public Utilities company provided the children and teachers with free transportation to the coliseum that week. In addition to the Red Cross and a group advocating the establishment of a college in Evansville, more than 20 organizations set up booths in the Coliseum to promote their programs while raising money for the new organ. The Courier article included all the names of the participants, a “Who’s Who” of Evansville society.

Eventually, the City of Evansville, Vanderburgh County, and the newly-established Evansville College combined financial resources with the money raised by the Fanfaronade to purchase the organ that had been built for the Methodist Centenary in Columbus, Ohio in the summer of 1919.

Many of the organizations that began the fundraising no longer exist. The Coliseum is no longer the primary cultural venue in Evansville. Yet, the huge pipe organ that these people built in memory of Evansville’s first music educator still stands in the Coliseum. A plaque on the back wall of the auditorium still proclaims that the instrument was built as a memorial to Milton Z. Tinker.

As I review the newspaper articles, the lists of programs and participants, and the lengthy stop list of the organ, I am humbled to think that so much of what we do as musicians now rests on the foundations established by Milton Tinker and the people who thought so much of him that they would create this musical memorial in his honor.

The building of the Tinker Memorial Organ is directly linked with the establishment of the Music Department at Evansville College with James R. Gillette, the first municipal organist, as Chair. The Tinker Memorial Organ helped to cement the importance of organ playing and organ building in Evansville from 1919 up to the present time. The building of the organ revealed the widely held enthusiasm for music which would lead to the establishment of the first Evansville orchestra in the mid-1930s.

On November 12, the Evansville Chapter AGO will join with the University of Evansville Chapter AGO and the UE Chapter of Music Educators National Conference to celebrate the memory of Milton Z. Tinker, Music Educator with a concert at St. John United Church of Christ, 314 Market St., Evansville, at 4:00 PM.  I hope you all will plan to attend this special concert.

Doug Reed

Our October meeting was a Psalm Festival, co-sponsored by the Indiana Choral Directors’ Association in cooperation with First Presbyterian Church.  There was an excellent turnout of choir members from many area churches.  The planning committee had chosen psalm settings from a variety of traditions, accompanied by organ, piano, mariachi band, flutes, and trumpets.  Members of the University of Evansville AGO chapter contributed enthusiastic percussion accompaniment.  Everyone sat together as one congregation and experienced the special thrill of singing in a large group.  Unlike so many too-long hymn festivals, this one lasted just under one hour.  Thanks to everyone who made this event such a rousing success!


We are so fortunate in Evansville to have many opportunities to hear fine organ music.  For many years, our chapter has underwritten Pipedreams, the acclaimed weekly radio program hosted by Michael Barone and heard Sunday evenings on WNIN-FM88.  But there is no substitute for live music-making.  On October 19, Francesco Cera gave a brilliant performance on organ and harpsichord at Aldersgate United Methodist Church.  His concert was sponsored by the University of Evansville with funding support from the Patricia Snyder Concert and Lecture Series.  Earlier in the day, Cera worked with UE students in a master class on music by Frescobaldi, using the four-stop organ by C. B. Fisk in Neu Chapel on the UE campus.  Both of these extraordinary events were free and open to the public, and will linger for a long time in the memories of those lucky enough to be there.

Just three days later, First Presbyterian Church celebrated the 15th anniversary of the installation of its Fisk organ, Op. 98, with “The Three Organists.”  Chapter members Douglas Reed (University of Evansville), Neal Biggers (Holy Name Catholic Church, Henderson), and Robert Nicholls (First Presbyterian) played a variety of standard organ recital fare, then joined forces for an unforgettable rendition of Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue in C minor.  A video camera projected images of the performers on the wall at the front of the sanctuary, greatly adding to the impact of all the performances.  Again, the concert was just the right length, showcasing our talented chapter members and the gorgeous sounds of the Fisk.


The Evansville AGO chapter will sponsor two important events for young people in 2007.  Please mark your calendars now, and watch this space for more information!

On Monday, February 19, 2007, we will sponsor our annual Presidents’ Day Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza event for young pianists at St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Evansville.  This fun event is always in need of more volunteer help.  Please call Tom Drury or Helen Reed if you’d like to get involved.

On Saturday, April 14, 2007, we will sponsor two events for young organists.  As in previous years, we will hold a Dufford Scholarship Audition for organists who are high-school age or younger.  New this year will be an advanced division, for organists under the age of 23.  The winner of the Evansville competition will advance to the
final round of the AGO/Quimby Regional Competition for Young Organists, to be held at the Region V AGO

Convention in June 2007 in Columbus, OH.  We hope to attract many young organists from Region V for what should be a memorable day of fine organ playing.  Both events will take place at St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Evansville.  If you would like to help with these events, please get in touch with Helen Reed.  More information about the AGO/Quimby Regional Competitions is available on the national AGO website, www.agohq.org, or in the April 2006 issue of The American Organist.  More information about the Dufford Scholarship Audition will be distributed to chapter members and area music educators in January 2007.

Helen Skuggedel Reed

Organist Position: First Presbyterian Church in Jasper.  The choir practice is on Sunday morning at 9 AM and the service is at 10:15.  Electronic organ and wonderful piano.  $75.00 per week  Contact: Rev. Larry Langer 812-482-4775.

See our Evansville AGO website for additional positions available.

New Members:
Paul & Cynthia Harris
Cynthia is Organist and Handbell Director and Paul is Music Director at First United Methodist in Madisonville

Just a sample of  coming events:
Susan Matthews Recital, First Presbyterian, Evansville  Friday Nov 5, 7:30 PM
Helen Skuggedal Reed, First Presbyterian in Springfield, IL, Wednesday, Nov 29 at 12:15 PM
University of Evansville Vespers, Thursday Nov 30, Neu Chapel, 7:30 PM
Evansville Philharmonic Pops, Victory Theater, Saturday Dec 2 at 8 PM and Sunday Dec 3 at 2 PM.
First Presbyterian Evansville Advent Lessons & Carols, Sunday Dec 3 at 7 PM
UE Christmas Pops, Victory Theater, Tuesday Dec 5, 7:30 PM
Evansville Philharmonic Messiah, Trinity United Methodist, Friday Dec 8 at 8 PM
Eastminster Presbyterian and American Baptist East joint concert at Eastminster, Sat Dec 9 at 7 PM (Repeated at American Baptist East, Sun Dec 10, at 9AM)
Evansville Chamber Singers, First Presbyterian, Evansville, Sat Dec 16 at 7 PM
In Quiet Joy, Christmas Program, St. John’s United Church of Christ, Tuesday, Dec 19 at 6 PM

Hulda Hass Memorial Organ Scholarship at St. John’s United Church of Christ

To support a talented keyboard musician on the path of studying sacred music on the pipe organ with the eventual goal of increasing the number of qualified organists in the Tri-State area.

Who Can Apply?

Any college or university student who has completed substantial piano or keyboard study, who attends a college or university within a 60-minute drive of Boonville, Indiana.

How Do I Apply?

By completing the application and auditioning on the organ or piano before the Scholarship Committee on a date that will be announced and communicated later.

How Will the Recipient(s) Be Chosen?

Scholarship Candidates will be evaluated on a number of criteria-- including but not limited to-- audition performance, general musical ability, character, financial need, and academic performance at her or his school.  References and comments from school officials and/or the Candidates keyboard instructor(s) will be solicited. The ultimate decision of the Scholarship Committee will be final, and cannot be appealed.*

What will the Scholarship Provide?

The recipient will have the opportunity to take lessons from an approved Instructor of Pipe Organ with the cost of instruction to be subsidized at the rate of $250.00 per semester. The remaining portion of the fee for the lessons, the cost of required practice manuals and music, and the cost of purchasing organ shoes will be borne by the recipient.

The $250.00 is approximately equivalent to the music fee required at the University of Evansville for one credit hour of instruction.   While this may make it more economical for a student at UE to participate than for students at other area universities, the scholarship is not limited to UE students.

The recipient will be allowed to practice on St. John’s pipe organ at appropriate times arranged through the church secretary (812-897-1441)


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Academic Information
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Musical Background
Instruments Currently Studying Music Instructor Instructor Contact Information
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Why I would like to study Sacred Music on the Pipe Organ

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Please return completed application by November 14, 2006 to: St. John’s United Church of Christ, 123 N. Sixth St., Boonville, IN  47601 or email to: stjohnsboonville@insightbb.com