En Chamade

July 2021

Many in attendance have heard amazing performers so far at our 2021 Summer Recital Series! Please see the flyer below for the most updated calendar and please encourage your friends and families to attend our recital this Sunday at 7pm! You may see a bride, a devil, and even a dinosaur!!
Our Orgelkids kit will also be on display for us all to learn more about how an organ works!

The Dean's Corner

Making Education a Priority

Do you remember your first organ lesson? What was it like? Going into it, perhaps you already knew the piano so you had an “upper hand”, but then there were multiple manuals, and then there were pedals, and then stops, and pistons, and (gasp!) three staves! I went into my first lesson feeling confident that I’d master the instrument in 45 minutes but was surprised (as any naive 9th grade boy would be) to find myself frustrated! Learning the organ comes more easily to some students than it does to others, but affording tuition for lessons and access to the bench of a practice instrument are two significant barriers that will discourage even the most enthusiastic budding organist from pursuing their dream.

To address the first barrier, the Charlotte AGO Chapter established the Stigall Scholarship Fund to offset tuition expenses for private organ instruction for rising 6-12 grade students. The scholarship fund has made great strides in furthering the efforts of organ education in years past.

Now, it’s time for our chapter to overcome these other two barriers: encouraging prospective organists to pursue the instrument, and increasing the accessibility of organs for practice. You might remember the individual who motivated you to learn the organ. Would you have learned the instrument had they not encouraged you? Also consider that the Stigall Scholarship Fund cannot buy every organ student a practice organ, and even if it could, most average homes do not possess sufficient available square footage, simply awaiting the occupancy of such a luxury. A flute or violin can easily be practiced just about anywhere, but an organ? Forget it.

We can overcome these barriers together as a chapter, and it won’t cost us a dime. Here’s how:

Using your gift of time, I want to challenge each member in this chapter to encourage a potential organist to study the organ. Here are some suggestions:

  • Ideally, this would be someone who already knows how to play the piano, as well as someone who already knows you. It does not necessarily need to be a young person.

  • The chapter will soon be compiling a list of Charlotte-area organ teachers. Refer them to this list once it becomes available so they can find a teacher more easily. If you yourself are an organ teacher and are accepting students, please reach out to me so I can add you to this list.

  • If the individual is a 6-12 grade student, encourage them to apply for the Stigall Scholarship; auditions are held in the spring. Visit for details.

  • And of course, encourage them to join the Charlotte AGO chapter. They can join as a “friend” of the chapter for a nominal fee if they do not wish to join as a voting member.

Using your gift of position: if you are the organist, music director, or serve on your church's leadership committee, initiate the conversation to allow organ students—especially non-church- members—to practice on your organ when the church schedule permits. You might want to have your church leadership team be made aware of any such agreement for scheduling and liability reasons. If a staff member will not be present when the student is practicing, notify your church administrator, sexton, custodian, or anyone else who may enter the sanctuary during the student’s practice time; if an unknown individual, with limited musical technique, were playing the organ and you entered into the sanctuary, you would react differently if you knew they had permission to be there.

If you need approval from your church’s leadership committee, here are some suggestions you may wish to keep in mind:

  • Hold your initial conversations with the specific church leaders to whom you report. They are responsible for representing you in leadership meetings where official decisions are made.

  • Don’t take it personally if this requires the green light from your church’s leadership team. Instead, you should feel confident knowing that your leadership is interested in the protection of the church’s music equipment. Besides, this request is really not unreasonable.

  • Establish clear boundaries and guidelines for the student’s practice time, how they will be expected to treat the instrument, whether or not an adult needs to be present if they are a minor, if they need a key, etc.
Together as a chapter, may I encourage us all to continue supporting organ students not only financially, but with our gift of time, making that personal connection and removing the barriers that separate potential students from achieving their musical goals.

Mark W. Johanson

Notes from the Sub-Dean

Fall 2021 Programming Calendar

*All events without a date are currently tentative!*

September 13 (6pm): Progressive Dinner 2021 - The World of Weddings

  • Appetizer: Matthews Presbyterian Church
  • Dinner: Sardis Presbyterian Church
  • Dessert: Providence United Methodist Church
Sign up to perform at our Progressive Dinner here!

September 25 (9am-1pm): Pedals, Pipes, and Pizza!

  • Join us at Covenant Presbyterian Church for a fun day of learning about the pipe organ! Invite children and youth who you think may be interested!!
  • Contact Ed Tompkins ( or Rob Dicks ( for more information.

October: PipeTalks

  • Come learn from local AGO members about how we can get back to basics. Topics covered will include hymn playing, accompanying on the organ, and much more!

October 29 (7pm): Silent Movie

  • Join us at Christ Lutheran Church as Scott Foppiano accompanies a classic Halloween movie.

November 8 (7pm): Choral Yoga

  • Keegan Brittain will teach us about how yoga can benefit our choirs. Please invite choir members to attend! Location TBD.

November 15 (7pm): The Clergy-Musician Team

  • Join us virtually as Dr. Eileen Guenther, past President of the AGO and Professor of Church Music at Wesley Theological Seminary, will lead a discussion on why teamwork is essential to the health of your church and 10 strategies for building an effective team. A Zoom link will be sent before this meeting.
We are excited about our many amazing programs for the fall! Contact me if you have any questions!
Zach Bowyer
Join our new Facebook group!

Charlotte AGO Communities

A new organization system for our Charlotte AGO chapter is on the horizon! Our Executive Committee is excited to announce the formation of Charlotte AGO Communities. The "community" is a group of zip codes that are grouped together based on their location in Charlotte. Since our chapter is quite large and spread across two different states, this will be a great way for us to maintain contact with all of our members.
With the formation of these new communities, our Executive Committee is looking for a Community Coordinator for each of our ten communities around Charlotte. The Community Coordinator should live in the area that they are managing. Please see more below.

The Community Coordinator, through working with the Membership Coordinator, shall be responsible for maintaining contact with and recruiting new Chapter members in their community. The Community Coordinator shall also work with the Publicity Officer to ensure that Chapter events and information are being spread to members in their community and help ensure that current members participate in the chapter's social, musical, and professional development programs. They shall analyze the demographics of the current membership and recommend and implement steps to maximize retention of those members. There shall be a Community Coordinator for each area in the Charlotte region. There are ten communities divided by zip code:

  • Uptown (28202, 28203, 28204, 28205, 28207, 28208, 28209, 28216)
  • North (28031, 28036, 28078, 28115, 28117, 28125, 28166, 28269)
  • South (28211, 28226, 28270, 28277)
  • East (28107, 28128, 28212, 28213, 28215, 28227)
  • West (28012, 28037, 28043, 28054, 28092, 28120, 28168, 28214, 28601, 28602)
  • Pineville (28134, 28210, 28273, 28278)
  • Matthews (28079, 28104, 28105, 28110, 28112)
  • Concord (28001, 28023, 28025, 28027, 28088, 28144, 28262)
  • Greater NC (all other NC zip codes)
  • Greater SC (all SC zip codes)
If you are interested in being a Community Coordinator, please email Zach Bowyer (

Membership News

There is exciting news this month for our Young Organists members. July 1 began “The Year of the Young Organist”. Young Organists are musicians under 30. The AGO is investing in our future this year by offering a free year of membership to current, new and lapsed Young Organists.
If you know of anyone under 30 who could benefit for the personal and professional benefits of our organization, please reach out to them with this offer. Contact me so I can get a link to you or the Young Organist for the membership form.
If you are a Young Organist, watch your email for directions on how to take advantage of this opportunity. You will not receive an invoice this year. Instead you will receive a link to the renewal form. If you have any difficulties, please contact me for help.
Kathie Riebe
Membership Chair

Examination Excitement

Did you know that our chapter always serves as an examination center for the national certification exams? This year we may have been the only one in the state. For each chapter, it involves appointing a coordinator (Lee Northcutt this year; Bob Ivey for many years previously). The coordinator must secure a church for the exams, recruit proctors, find a qualified recording engineer, identify judges, and become familiar with a daunting document of rules and procedures. This year we administered one Colleague exam, which was recorded and sent to Headquarters, and two Associate exams. These latter exams involve two mornings of written tests and an afternoon of live-judged playing. Ginger Wyrick served as proctor and the judges were Jane Cain and Larry Stratemeyer. The exams are conducted with absolute anonymity and confidentiality. 
Candidates may travel from other parts of the state or even other states to take the exams here. This is a great service that our chapter offers to the Guild as a whole, and our members should be proud that we can be a leader in this way. 
Have you considered studying for a certification exam? The requirements are posted on the national website, There is an exam for every level of proficiency, beginning with Service Playing. Why would you do this? Maybe you already have a church job, or all the degrees you feel you need. First, it's a way to grow in your skills and add new skills. Second, it's a way to measure yourself against national standards that are carefully determined by leaders in our field, Third, it's a good way to review what you know and brush up on what you've forgotten. Fourth, it demonstrates to the world that you have achieved a recognized benchmark. Finally, it's great discipline and challenge to keep you as sharp as possible. If you'd like more information or personal perspective, call Jane Cain.
American Guild of Organists
Charlotte, NC Chapter

Chapter Officers


Mark Johanson, Dean


Zach Bowyer, Sub-Dean


Linda Liberty, Secretary


Anne Kimball, Treasurer

Executive Committee Members


Class of 2021-2022

John Apple

Ed Tompkins 


Class of 2022-2023

Matt Caine

Kathie Reibe


Class of 2023-2024

Sandy Davis

Garrett Law

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