The five accomplished Tabernacle and Temple Square organists, Richard Elliott, Andrew Unsworth, Brian Mathias, Linda Margetts, and Joseph Peeples, plus occasional guest organists, are featured in a new online concert stream:
This is a new monthly offering of nine different topics of interest to early-level church organists, including those serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All events are free of charge and available to pianists and organists in any location.
Each month will include a 2-part series:
- a live presentation on the given topic
- and a live masterclass that follows up on the topic discussed in the presentation.
The live presentations will take place on the first Thursday of each month, followed by the mid-monthly masterclasses (reinforcing the same topic) on the third Thursday of the month, both from 7-9 pm Mountain Time. Previous sessions may be viewed online. Contact Sharee Thompson at for assistance in finding the recorded sessions.
Learn more by clicking the button below to enroll for the sessions of interest. We hope to see you at many, if not all of the training sessions!
Dr. Don Cook
Joseph Peeples was recently appointed as a new organist at Temple Square. He will join organists Richard Elliott, Andrew Unsworth, Brian Mathias, Bonnie Goodliffe, and Linda Margetts in performing organ recitals and playing broadcasts and performances with The Tabernacle Choir.
“We warmly welcome Joseph to the organ staff and look forward to his musical contributions on Temple Square,” Elliott, the principal Tabernacle organist, said in a press release.
Peeples is well-prepared for his appointment. He earned his master’s degree in organ performance from Brigham Young University where he studied with Dr. Don Cook and Dr. Douglas Bush. He then earned his doctorate from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, where he also studied organ.
Since then he was the organist at the Speedway Christian Church in Indiana and the university organist at California Lutheran University, where he taught applied organ, keyboard harmony, and music appreciation. At the time of his new appointment he was serving as organist for the First United Methodist Church in Santa Barbara. He has also taught a variety of music courses at Pepperdine University, Indiana University, and Brigham Young University.
He will begin his duties at Temple Square in June.
Joseph Peeples plays in the Ludlum Recital Series at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, Charleston, South Carolina, on April 9, 2016.
Three Chorale Preludes from the “Leipzig 18” —— Johann Sebastian Bach
Fantasia super “Komm, Heiliger Geist”, BWV 651
Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele, BWV 654
Nun danket Alle Gott, BWV 657
Prelude and Fugue in A Minor, BWV 543 —— Johann Sebastian Bach
Levente Medveczky served as Cathedral Organ Scholar from December 2015 until August 2017 and was a dear friend of many of us at the Cathedral. He passed away on 24 February 2019, just over a week after he turned 28.
A Memorial Service for Levente will be held in the Cathedral of the Madeleine on Tuesday 9 April 2019 at 7:30 PM. Some of his teachers, friends and colleagues will share memories and pay tribute to Levente through performances of organ music.
The public is cordially invited to attend.
The new 2019 updated eBook edition of a “Resource List for Organists: Arrangements & Accompaniments of Hymns in the LDS Hymnal” is now available
Compiled by DeeAnn D. Stone
On March 17, 1999, the website Resources for LDS Organists was launched by DeeAnn Stone. The site’s purpose was to be a place where organists could find help in planning their music for church services, using a list posted there of available hymn arrangements and accompaniments that DeeAnn began to compile in 1993. The site now has many more resources and helps added to it.
To observe the website’s 20th anniversary, DeeAnn has made extensive revisions, additions, corrections, and updates to the booklet she offers at the website called a “Resource List for Organists: Arrangements and Accompaniments for Hymns in the LDS Hymnal.” What started out as a 20-page booklet in 1993 has now become a whopping 459-page eBook, with hundreds of new titles of hymn arrangements and accompaniments. Each title is linked to the publisher or distributor of the books the titles are found in, plus there are internal links to help navigate the eBook.
The PDF eBook can be purchased at Resources for LDS Organists for $25. There are three other purchasing options, too, if organists don’t want to buy the entire eBook. (A hard copy isn’t available, however, because of the length of the eBook, making it too expensive to print off and mail, which would cost at least $50-$70 per copy.)
While at Resources for LDS Organists, be sure to check out the new links to very informative videos created by the National AGO to aid new organists in learning how to play the organ, as well as other helpful and interesting videos from other sources. There’s also other information at the website that would help organ students and new ward organists (and there are even helps for Primary Music Directors). Enjoy!
Levente Medveczky (1991-2019) passed from this life on Sunday, February 24, 2019, just eight days after his 28th birthday, from an aggressive form of colon cancer. He will be remembered as a gentle giant, a masterful organist, and a friend to all, who gave the greatest, most loving and healing bear hugs! He will be greatly missed by his many friends and family and especially by his fiancée, Hannah.
Levente had a bright and promising future in the organ world. At the time of his death, he was a master’s candidate on a Jerome L. Greene Scholarship at Juilliard, studying with Paul Jacobs. Originally from Budapest, Hungary, he received his early training in the studio of Zsuzsa Elekes at the Béla Bartók Conservatory. In 2017 he received a bachelor’s degree in organ studies at Brigham Young University, under the supervision of Dr. Don Cook. With a love for sacred music, Levente served as an organ scholar at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City and then as interim director of music at the Church of Incarnation in New York City until the time of his illness.
- Concepts and Techniques for Effective Practice
- Emergency Preparedness for Pianists Who Have Had No Organ Training
- A List of Some of Parley’s Favorite Compositions
- Hymn Playing in the Sustained Style
- An Interview with Parley Belnap by James Welch
- Warm-up and Cool-down Exercises for Playing an Instrument
- What I Have Learned about Effective Teaching
Composed to play in Salt Lake Tabernacle Organ recitals
Composed to play in Salt Lake Tabernacle Organ recitals
“Be Still, My Soul”
Arranged for a young student to play as a solo in church who could not reach the organ pedals
Two Children’s Hymns (“Keep the Commandments” and “Love One Another”)
Arranged for a beginning student to play as solo in church
- Praise to the Man
- The Star-Spangled Banner
- Called to Serve (verse)
- Come, Rejoice (4-part hymn style)
- Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words (verse)
- Angels We Have Heard on High (trio style)
- Silent Night (trio style)
- Joy to the World (trio style)
- Away in a Manger (pedal on 3rd staff)
- Christ the Lord Is Risen Today (modulation from C to D)
- Love at Home
The American Guild of Organists (AGO) Committee on Continuing Professional Education (CCPE) commissioned concert organist Frederick Hohman to author and present a series of 30 video music lessons, with the goal of helping pianists of intermediate achievement to make a successful transition to the pipe organ when leading music in worship. The series is entitled LESSONS FOR THE NEW ORGANIST. The series of 30 videos is scripted by Hohman, with oversight and input from Dr. Don Cook, the current Councillor for Education at AGO, and by Dr. Sharon Hettinger, the current Director of AGO’s CCPE. The series offers a graded series of lessons, where Hohman is seen in a variety of contrasting venues throughout Michigan and Indiana, with spaces ranging from small to large, and with organs of several types of design. The entire 30-lesson series, which was completed in April 2017, may be seen on the AGO’s YouTube Channel.
There are several organ-related activities for all ages coming up this year. Click on the links to see if there is something you or someone you know might be interested in attending.
Pipe Organ Encounters Advanced, for Grades 9-12
Pipe Organ Encounter +, for Adults
Pipe Organ Encounter Technical (Organ Building), for Ages 16-23
Bach’s Organ World Tour, with Quentin and Mary Murrell Faulkner, Germany, July 17-28. Website
Pipedreams Historic Organs of France Tour, with Michael Barone,
May 23-June 4. Website
On this page, we hear the experiences of some of the youth who attended Pipe Organ Encounter 2016 in Salt Lake City. We are inspired by their youthful enthusiasm and passionate musicianship.
I never really had a thing for the organ until one day when my piano teacher, Mike Carson, was practically dancing around the room, because he had found a flier for scholarship auditions on the organ. I had been working with him toward playing in sacrament meetings for about a year. Organ lessons were once a month, but I didn’t feel very much commitment.
The audition itself was quite a learning experience for me, but to hear that I had won a scholarship to a week-long organ camp in Salt Lake City, well, I was quite stunned. I thought it was a very strange thing to do, but it just hung in the back of my consciousness the whole summer. I really didn’t much look forward to it.
Well, the time came when it was no longer just some distant thing I would be doing, because my bags were packed, and I was in a car driving up to Salt Lake City. Soon my mom was waving goodbye to me as I walked to the U of U dorms by myself. I couldn’t believe I was actually there. It seemed so strange. Would I make friends here? What kinds of experiences would I have? Would I enjoy it? Would I be the only kid that hadn’t had Toccata and Fugue in D minor memorized since they were five? I felt very uncertain of myself. It’s funny, though, how the greatest experiences you ever have can be very unexpected. They can be found in places you never suspect. And that’s what happened to me.
My time at the POE was phenomenal. Never before had I felt such an admiration for this instrument. It inspired my musicianship in a way I would never have predicted. Inside of me that week, there was a burning desire to become something greater with the talents I have. I felt like I was being introduced to a whole new, beautiful world, like the way you feel sometimes when you watch a sunset or when someone smiles at you on a gloomy day. I was being introduced not just to the organ, but to the beauty of music and worship and passion. There was much more out there than I ever thought.
I met so many amazing friends. When I would mess up on a piece, they would talk about how perfectly I’d done it. We all laughed very hard together and made a lot of memories. I even enjoyed immensely the teachers and chaperones that I met while I was there. I couldn’t believe how attached I felt to everyone when I had to leave. Funny how you can love someone so much, when really you’ve only known him or her for such a little time.
So, yes, I really did think going to an organ camp was a little weird in the beginning, and yet I’m so glad I did. I loved it more than I ever thought I would. Whatever may happen to me in my life or whatever I may accomplish, I’ll always remember the amazing experience I had that one week in July when I went to organ camp.
Organ camp was a great experience; I met a bunch of new friends and played on about seven organs.
On Tuesday, the second day of camp, we went to the Mormon Tabernacle and the Conference Center, and we got to play on the organs at each. They were five-manual organs with 5,000+ pipes. We also played on the three-manual organ at St. Ambrose Catholic Church. We met our teachers, who were all really cool, and we practiced every day in various locations around Salt Lake City.
On Wednesday we went to the Bigelow organ factory in American Fork, and got a tour of the facilities and learned how pipe organs are made. They make tracker organs. We went to BYU and got a tour of the music department and had a master class with Dr. Don Cook, who is the director of the organ program at BYU. He also performed a Carillon recital for us and let us play on the Carillon.
On Thursday, we went to the Joseph Smith Memorial building and had a master class with Dr. Clay Christiansen, one of the Mormon Tabernacle organists. We went to a concert at the Tabernacle to hear Richard Elliot, who is the principal organist for the Tabernacle Choir, and got to talk to him a bit afterwards. That evening we went to the Tabernacle Choir rehearsal and to the Cathedral of the Madeleine and played the organ there.
On Friday, we went to First United Methodist Church and played on the organ there. That evening we had our recital at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, and I played a piece out of The First Organ Book called Finale by Janet Corell. Both Dr. Cook and Dr. Christiansen were at the recital, and performing for them was really awesome!
This event was a wonderful and life-changing experience. Many of the organs and sites we saw were things that most people would never see and could end up being a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Thank you to the Utah Valley chapter of the AGO for organizing this for all of us!
When we got the list of POEs all around the country, I saw there was one in Salt Lake City this year. I didn’t even think twice and asked my parents if I could go to that one.
During a visit to Salt Lake City, when I was about seven, we went to Temple Square and the Conference Center, and I was in awe of the organs. Their sight stayed in my mind for a long time and I think that’s what made me decide to play this instrument a few years later.
One of my favorite things during the week was touring a lot of organs, especially at Temple Square. We not only got to play the Conference Center organ but also went behind the scenes. This is probably as exciting as playing, to see how it is made. We also got to play the Tabernacle organ after listening to a recital by Clay Christiansen. After that we visited the Assembly Hall organ and got to play it too. For me it was like a dream come true! We didn’t stop there, and during the week continued on with the organ in the chapel of the Joseph Smith building, Cathedral of the Madeleine, St. Ambrose Catholic Church and the First United Methodist Church. I like how they all have their own “personality” and how the same piece can have a different feel depending on the organ. We also had the chance to play a Carillon on the BYU campus, and we had so much fun with it that I’m pretty sure people within earshot of it were wondering what was happening up there!
I also enjoyed all the master classes, where we learned new techniques, how to improve, registration, and get the best out of an organ. Same with the visit to the organ builder, Bigelow, in American Fork. Seeing how an organ is made helps you understand how it works, how the sounds are formed, and it is fascinating.
To take a break from all these musical activities, we went to the BYU Creamery for some ice cream. Given the heat, it was a very welcome visit! During the week we also performed a variety show filled with fun performances, including my bad chemistry jokes.
Overall, it was an amazing experience. I learned many new things about the organ, such as different ways to learn hymns, articulation techniques, and more. I made new friends, too. The teachers, organizers, and chaperones/drivers, were all very nice and patient in dealing with our crazy bunch. Of all the organ camps I have attended so far, this has been the best! I also learned that I should bring Chapstick with me to Utah during the summer.