Kansas City: Day 4

11:00am: Strategic Planning Meeting

Over the past year, the guild has undertaken the intense and intensive work of developing a strategic plan. Vice President Eileen Hunt presented on itnlast night at the annual meeting and introduced it again this morning.  


We split up into small groups and discussed various questions, such as: What do you value? What suggestions do you have for chapters? How is your chapter’s relationship with National?  


I would also encourage you to comment on these ideas in the comments below!  

12:00pm: Lunch with Regional Councillors

One of the greatest delights of my first few days as RC has been the time of story-sharing, advice, and humor with my fellow RCs (formally known as the Board of Regional Councillors). There are seven of us, one for each of the regions:

  • Vicki Schaeffer (Southwest Region)
  • Matthew Burt (West Region) 
  • Wayne Wold (Mid-Atlantic Region) 
  • Sue Mitchell-Wallace (Southeast Region) 
  • Karl Bruhn (Great Lakes Region)
  • Karen Black (North Central Region)
  • and moi! 

We have had a number of meetings this week but this was the first time that the 7 of us sat down together, just us. We newbies were able to ask all the questions that had been swirling in our heads and the incumbent RCs have been nothing but gracious, welcoming, and encouraging. It is such a comfort to know that there are colleagues in the same position that can support and help one another. 

2:30pm: A (much needed) nap! 

Y’all... let me tell you: conventions are a marathon, not a sprint! The late nights, high heat, and busy schedule means that at some point, you will need a nap. Do not fight it... do not resist it... do not pass go... just give yourself a little break and you will feel energized and ready to go to the end of the week 😊 

4:00pm: PipeDreams Live @ Community of Christ Auditorium  

Such an exciting event! This multi-hour program featured Michael Unger and the winners of the 2017 AGO/Quimby Regional Competitions for Young Organists:

  • Ben Kerswell (North Central Region)
  • Clara Gerdes (Mid-Atlantic Region) 
  • Dominic Pang (West Region) 
  • Matthew Bickett (Great Lakes Region) 
  • Jiaqi Shao (Northeast Region) 
  • Bruce Xu (Southeast Region) 
  • Collin Miller (Southwest Region)

Naturally, I was particularly keen to support Ms. Shao from our very own Northeast Region!


She played absolutely beautifully! She is currently a student at the Eastman School of Music, studying with David Higgs. 

7:30pm: Todd Wilson @ Community of Christ Temple

Firstly, what a cool building! As you approach it, it twists out of the ground like an inverted twister... seemingly appropriate for this part of the country!  


Inside, it is no less dramatic. The ceiling goes right up into that spiral, which has an almost seashell-like appearance from this angle: 


The organ is a 1993 Casavant and is a beautiful pale wood color that is simultaneously soothing and uplifting. 


As you might imagine, a very special relationship exists between teacher and student. In my case, having studied with Todd for my undergraduate degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music has created a distinct “rock star” and “fan” dynamic. (Haha!) It’s one of my favorite things to hear Todd play and today was no exception!


Jean Baptiste Robin’s new work was absolutely captivating- using the metaphor of time and the impressions of clock sounds made for a dramatic piece. 

Closing with the Duruflé Suite  was ambitious, to say the least. But in true Todd-style, his “calm focus” (the motto he used to write on the top of my music) carried the incredible work with only the called-for drama. 

10:00pm: AGOYO meeting

This time, I was here to just listen! AGOYO Convener Jillian Gardner led a session with her fellow young organists. Did you know that any AGO member under 30 is automatically an AGOYO? It’s technically a membership category and is such an exciting new(er) program. You’ll hear more about this soon!