We hear from Sarah Maxfield, 16, who was able to attend the Haarlem International Organ Festival this summer (2016). Sarah is also one of the winners of last spring’s UVAGO Youth Scholarship program.
Hi! My name is Sarah Maxfield; I turned 16 in June. I’ve played the organ for four years. This summer, as part of my musical (organ) education, I went to Holland for the Haarlem Orgelfestival. This was an amazing experience for me on several levels, because it taught me how to work hard and set goals to reach my dreams.
Back in December my amazing mom was looking for organ summer camps for me, and this one kept popping up. I honestly didn’t think that I would get in, because I had never been out of the US or Canada for anything, and I didn’t think that my skill set at the time would get me in. But I decided to try anyway.
In January they sent us the list of music I had to prepare to send in as a recorded audition. I needed to learn a Bach trio sonata, and a piece from Messiaen’s “La Nativité.” I had never in my life played that music. I met many organists who did not believe that I would be able to learn these pieces and perfect them in the time given me. So, I stepped up my game. I increased my practice time to twice the amount I was used to. I was dedicated to getting in, so I practiced the same two pieces for seven months (and somehow managed to still like them).
The great organ at St. Bavo’s Cathedral, Haarlem, built by Christian Müller
1735-1738 and renovated by Marcussen & Søn of Denmark 1959-1961.
The audition was due two months after the music had been released, and, as I was between teachers, I had an amazing experience of going to different teachers to learn different viewpoints on the pieces. We recorded, and recorded, and recorded at the University of Utah and also at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, but I wasn’t ready. So, finally, days before the due date, I recorded in my teacher’s office at BYU on a small practice pipe organ. Then came the rigorous process of deciding which take was the best recording to send in. This process was hard, because they all sounded so similar. Because of that, my mother turned in the wrong recording, and had to send an apology letter and the correct recording later.
Finally, the day came that we got the results. I did not get in, except to be a passive participant, which meant I could not play. They had to choose eight young talents from the world, and I was the ninth best. Instead, they told me that I could come, but only to watch. My mother and I decided to go anyway, and I had the opportunity to play on three of the organs, even though at first they said there would be no time for me to play. My favorite by far was St. Bavo’s 17th-century organ, which had been played by Mozart. If I had decided not to work, or not to go because I didn’t believe I would be able to play, I would have missed out on a lot of amazing experiences.
Miranda Wilcox has been in England since January 2016 leading a study abroad and doing research.
The first week in York, I saw a sign announcing an organ recital series at St. Columba’s United Reformed Church down the street from where I lived. At the first recital I mustered the courage to ask the organist Nigel and Reverend Allison if I might practice on their lovely instrument. They were incredibly generous and welcoming and agreed that I could practice on “Mildred,” the 1907 Lewis organ. Mildred has a warm, rich tone with gentle flutes and robust principles. Even though there are no mixtures or mutations, the organ is quite versatile, and I enjoyed playing Dupre and Bach. I am very grateful to the St. Columba community for the opportunity to practice regularly while I was in York.
For the last organ recital in the six-week series, Nigel wanted it to have the feel of the British Proms. I happened to be practicing the organ when Nigel and his wife arrived to decorate the night before the recital. They draped strings of Union Jack across the sanctuary. I helped them distribute crackers, whistles, and streamers among the pews. Nigel thinks organ recitals should not be so serious and wanted “a bit of silliness.” Simon Lindley, the Leeds city organist and a consummate performer, played a rousing program of “British” tunes. He ended by inviting the audience to sing “Holy art Thou” (while he played Handel’s Largo) and “Jerusalem.” As we sang, the audience got into the patriotic mood and began waving flags, blowing kazoos, pulling poppers, and throwing streamers. It was unlike any organ recital I have ever attended.
Thank you for all of your friendship and support during the past two terms that I have served as dean of the Utah Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. It has been a privilege for me to serve with and for you. I believe in the cause of the AGO.
I would like to make you aware of a few things. First, due to the POE (Pipe Organ Encounter) that will be held in July, the change of executive officers and any changes to the board for the 2016-18 term will take place, on August 1, rather than July 1.
Second, you may recall that those who attended Super Saturday had the opportunity to join the AGO with a six-month free voluntary organist membership. I am pleased to announce that thirty-five people took advantage of this offer. Yes! You heard that correctly! We now have thirty-five new members of our chapter! I encourage you to welcome and support them. Their names are included with a list of other new members here. Member contact information is available in the member directory on this site.
Third, the keynote addresses from Gabriele Terrone (2015) and Brian Mathias (2016) are now available on this website. They are located in the Super Saturday Handout Archive here. I hope you are inspired by reading their addresses.
Fourth, Quinten Knudsen will work hard and be a fabulous dean. Please offer him your support and assist him in any way that you can.
As many of you know, I have been in school full time during both terms that I have served as dean of the Utah Valley Chapter. Serving as dean while finishing my bachelor’s degree and then obtaining my master’s degree has been challenging at times. I could never have done it without all of your help and support. It has been a most rewarding experience and I am better for having had the opportunity. You are some of the finest people I know. I look forward to a lifetime of association with you.
If there is anything that I can do to help you, please let me know. I am eager to serve.
With great gratitude,
Everyone who attended Super Saturday 2016 had the opportunity to join the AGO with a six-month free voluntary organist membership. We are pleased to announce that thirty-five people took advantage of this offer! Please take the opportunity to meet them at our opening social in September and make everyone feel welcome. Note: Specific contact information is available in the member directory on this site.
Robert G. Condie
Carol Ann Mercier
Mary Beth Weston
Zina Peterson Woods
Congratulations to Tyler Boehmer, who won the AGO/Quimby Regional Convention for Young Organists on Saturday, June 27, 2015, and performed a solo concert at Clairemont Lutheran Church in San Diego on Monday, June 29, in conjunction with the 2015 West Region Convention. His concert included works of J.S. Bach, Louis Vierne, and Marcel Dupre. Tyler is a student of Dr. Don Cook and previously won the combined Salt Lake/Utah Valley chapter competition.
Tyler will perform as a “Rising Star” at the AGO National Convention in Houston, Texas, June 2016.
Tyler Boehmer sits at an organ on the BYU campus. Boehmer is currently studying organ performance at the university.
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 50 West 200 North, in Provo is eager for us to continue using their facility for chapter events and musical programs. They would like to encourage our chapter members to use their venue for organ, instrumental, and vocal recitals. If you are interested in playing at St. Mary’s, you can contact Anna Judkins, the current organist and church secretary. Anna is an active member of our chapter and has served as our BYU student representative. You may email her at: *protected email*.
Our friends at Provo Community Church are eager for us to perform at their facility. They are currently involved in renovating the building and have plans to install a pipe organ in the sanctuary. Fund raising events are in progress, and PCC would love for our members to perform at some of these events. They are looking for soloists and small to medium-sized instrumental and vocal groups to perform. If you would like an opportunity to participate, please contact Dave Lewis, church music director, at 801-228-7782.
We are pleased to announce that Dr. Don Cook has won the AGO National election and will serve as the new Councillor for Education, effective July 1, 2014. Don brings a host of educational experience to this position and will represent the AGO well.