Worcester Chapter of the American Guild of Organists – History

1949-1999 – A half century of services to the community

(List of Past Deans at bottom)

A Short History of the Worcester Chapter


The American Guild of Organists ratified a petition and granted the formation of the Worcester Chapter on March 14, 1949. This resulted from the initiative of eight Worcester organists. Officers elected were Frederick Kinsley, Dean; Clifford Fowler Greene, Sub-Dean; Bertis H. Adams, Secretary; Luke H. Richard, Treasurer; Arvid C. Anderson, Auditor.

The following are some of the highlights gleaned from the 1984 Worcester Chapter Yearbook and other sources:

1955 Virgil Fox recital at Worcester Memorial Auditorium
E. Power Biggs illustrated talk on “European Organs, Old and New”

1956 George Faxon recital at All Saints

1957 Virgil Fox recital at Worcester Memorial Auditorium
Pierre Cochereau, Organist at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, at All Saints

1957WorcAGO has 60 members.

1958 Claire Coci recital at Worcester Memorial Auditorium

1960 42 members were added when the Worcester Association of Church Musicians voted to disband and join the Worcester Chapter.
Membership dues were $5.
Choral program by forty Chapter voices performed Bach Cantata No. 140 at Trinity Lutheran. Dr. John King, director; Barclay Wood, Accompanist

1961 Chapter members were playing weekly recitals at Worcester State Hospital on the concert Hammond

1962 David Craighead, organist, at First Baptist

1964 First Pastor-Organist Banquet held at Congregational Church, Holden

1965 Young Organists’ Recital
Music by Worcester composers at First Unitarian
Alexander Shreiner, organist, at First Baptist
Gertrude Neidlinger on “Musical Mishaps”
Pastor-Organist Banquet with Raymond Morin, speaker
Festival Evensong. Asylum Hill Motet Choir, First Baptist Choir,
All Saints Boys’ Choir. World premiere of Psalms II and III by Jean Langlais

1966 Organ recitals by Barclay Wood, Douglas Risner, Cal Lindblad, Henry Hokans, J. Franklin Clark

1967 Pierre Cochereau, recital and organ workshop

1968 Daniel Pinkham on contemporary musical composition

1969 National Organ Competition
Jean Langlais, recital and workshop

1970 Youth Concert Choir at All Saints

1973 Pastor-Organist Banquet with Raymond Morin, speaker

1974 Sixth Annual Organ Competition
Pastor-Organist Banquet with Rev. Peter Gomes, speaker
Salisbury Consort. Rev. Lamothe, Director
Messiah Sing. Stephen Long, Director

1975 Mechanics Hall Organ Committee formed with Charles Davis,
Stephen Long and Barclay Wood representing the Chapter
Worcester area organ crawl
Thomas Murray at Worcester Memorial Auditorium in “Celebration of Pipes” commencing the Chapter’s fundraising to restore the Mechanics Hall E. & G.G. Hook organ. The week of Sep 21-27 was declared WORCESTER GREAT ORGAN WEEK by the Mayor of Worcester

1976 Douglas Butler at Worcester Memorial Auditorium in second
“Celebration of Pipes” which brought Hook Organ Fund to $5,633.

1977 Mechanics Hall “Come and See Tour” with Julie Chase Fuller

1978 Alan Laufman with slide-tape program of historical organs
William Czelusniak lecture on organ maintenance

1979 News on the Mechanics Hall Hook organ — of the $50,000 having been received and $135,000 needed
Peter Planyavsky at Trinity Lutheran
Newsletter announced the Executive Board wanted to host the 1983
New England Regional Convention in cooperation with the Organ
Historical Society’s annual convention

1980 “The Art of the Organ” hosted by Henry Hokans and Joyce Hokans on WICN
Robert Glasgow Masterclass at All Saints
Executive Board voted on the above joint convention June 26-30, 1983

1981 “The Art of the Organ” continues with Robert C. Dickinson, host
First “Fall Crawl” organized by Stephen Long and William Wallace through Lancaster, Athol, Phillipston, Baldwinville
“Cantata Sing” at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Joseph Policell, Director; Gilbert Lay, Organist

1982 Twelfth Night at Higgins House — “The Sacred and The Profane”
Andre De La Varre, Jr., pianist and fillmmaker at Mechanics Hall to benefit the Hook organ Rededication of 1864 E.&G.G. Hook organ at Mechanics Hall
Sep 25 and 26 with Chapter members participating — Henry Hokans, Brenda Fraser, Stephen Long, Barclay Wood, Stephen Hermes, Richard F. Jones, Donna Merrill, Gilbert Lay, LeRoy Hanson, Ronald Stalford and Malama Robbins.

1983 Chapter Organ Competition at All Saints. Paul Roy, winner, to compete in Region I Competition
Hymn Festival Weekend included an organ concert at St. Peter’s Church. David Lasky, Suzanne Davis and Lucia Clemente-Falco, organists
Chapter membership is 156. Dues, $28
AGO Region I/OHS National Convention. 625 registrants.
Stephen Long and Joseph Policelli, co-chairmen. Held June 26-30 with headquarters at Assumption College
Open House at Mechanics Hall — new address for the Chapter

1984 Worcester Chapter celebrates its 35th anniversary with a festival service and banquet at All Saint’s. Speakers were Barbara Owen, Chairwoman of the New England Region, Daniel N. Colburn, Executive Director at National Headquarters, and Richard F. Jones who gave a talk on the Chapter’s history.
Membership is at 200.
Worcester Memorial Auditorium Kimball Organ Committee meets.
James David Christie, organist with Boston Symphony Orchestra
since 1978 and named a visiting professor at Holy Cross College, in recital at Mechanics Hall
Gillian Weir of England in concert on the W.W.Kimball organ at Worcester Memorial Auditorium

1985 “It’s An AGO Spring!” included a Patriot’s Day Organ Crawl through N. Grosvenordale, Thompson, Uxbridge and Milford;
“Brian Jones: A Romantic Organ Workshop” at St. Cecilia’s Church, Leominster; and Simon Preston in concert with the Worcester Orchestra at Mechanics Hall
Paul Roy at the Walker organ at Pakachoag Church is featured in a Worcester Cable TV documentary celebrating the anniversaries of Bach, Handel, Scarlatti, and Schutz. Also interviewed were Dr. Michelle Graveline, Joseph Policelli, Leroy Hanson and Stephen Long.
“A Choral Workshop: Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know about a Volunteer Choir, Vol. II” led by Brenda Fraser Caldwell and Joyce Hokans at Trinity Episcopal Church, Shrewsbury
(June 1985: At Mechanics Hall, Fuller International Organ Festival: concerts & master classes)

1986 “Service Playing: Suggestions and Solutions, Vol. II” led by Barclay Wood
“A Bach Weekend” included a recital and masterclass by Robert Clark at Assumption College and a “Bachathon” at Trinity Lutheran

1987 “Cuckoos & Valkyries” – a program of orchestral music transcribed for “The King of Instruments” performed on the J.W. Walker organ at the Church of Our Lady of the Angels by Charles H. King, Mark Dwyer, Lois Toeppner, Barclay Wood, Ronald Stalford, Paul Roy, Michelle Graveline, Lucia Clemente-Falco. Program was dedicated to the memory of Jean Marchant Davis.
“Worcester Composers Night” at Wesley Methodist Church with compositions of David Lasky, Parouhi Boyajian, Will Sherwood, Stephen Long, Henry Hokans, Barrie Mosher performed.
“Ice Cream and Organ Pops” organ recital by Earl L. Miller at Worcester Memorial Auditorium to benefit the Kimball Organ Fund.
Memorial service for Gilbert H. Lay at Mechanics Hall

1988 Pastor-Organist Banquet and “Hymn Festival” at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Sudbury

1989 “Pipe Organ Encounter ’89?, a summer organ institute for high school students, co-sponsored with Pakachoag Church. Faculty included James David Christie, Michelle Graveline, Stephen Long, Paul Roy, Peggy Kelley Reinburg and Barclay Wood.

1990 “Jehan Alain Festival” held
Vesper Service, dinner and annual meeting at Emanuel Lutheran

1991 Tenth Anniversary “Fall Crawl”
William Self’s autobiography “Mine Eyes Have Seen”
Special Service Award to Charles Paquette
Scholarship Fund established

1992 Mini-Convention held at Assumption College
Saturday Seminar by Wilma Vander Baan on “Hymn Playing”
“Fall Crawl” of Worcester organs
Kick-off Fundraiser at Worcester Memorial Auditorium

1993 Mme. Durufle recital at Chapel of the Holy Spirit, Assumption College
Worcester Chapter By-laws amended
Worcester Chapter salary guidelines compiled by Joyce Hokans.
Fire in the building at Assumption College housing the Worcester Chapter music library. Minimal loss. Library moved to Pakachoag Church
“Fall Crawl” in Southern Vermont
Richard Coffey workshop at Pakachoag
Renea Meadows selected to perform at AGO National Convention in Dallas

1994 Robert C. Dickinson Memorial Concert held at Spencer Congregational Church
Richard F. Jones hosts “The Art of the Organ” on WICN

1995 Renee Meadows was the winner of the Region I Young Organists
Competition held during the Region I Convention hosted by Merrimack Valley
Scholarship recipients this year were Renee Meadows, Gerald Senechal, Samuel Schmitt and Brett Maguire
Worcester Chapter is awarded 1999 Region I Convention.
Fall Crawl to Blackstone River Valley organized by Judith Ollikkala
Frank Corbin’s dedicatory recital on the Chabot Memorial Pipe Organ at Assumption College “knocked their socks off”

1996 “Planning Music for the Church Year” program at Trinity
Lutheran Church with Richard Wyble, Lois Toeppner, Ronald Stalford, Peter Krasinski, Joseph Policelli and Kyle Martin as presenters
“World’s Largest Organ Recital” in observance of the Centennial Anniversary of the AGO was held. Hundreds of recitals were held all over the country including recitals in Fiskdale, Fitchburg, Leominster, Littleton, Paxton, Spencer, Sudbury, Sutton and Worcester
AGO ’96 Centennial Convention held in New York City – a performer was Renee Meadows
Saddened with the passing of Honorary Life Member Stephen E. Long.
Students Becky Ford, Gerald Senechal, Catherine Sumner and Haley Morrison attend Pipe Organ Encounter at Yale University
Fall Crawl to Sutherland, Montague, Northfield and Shelburne Falls organized by Judith Ollikkala
Worcester Chapter co-sponsors Sowerby Festival

1997 1999 AGO Region I Convention Steering Committee begins meeting.
“House Organ Tour” program to raise funds for the Competition Fund with hosts William Ness, Will Sherwood and David Hagberg.
A Hiring Guide for Religious Institutions Seeking Musicians is published
Sean Redrow is winner in 1997 AGO Region I competition and heard at Convention hosted by the Berkshire Chapter
16th Annual Fall Crawl to Narragansett Bay/Newport organized by
Judith Ollikkala
Worcester Chapter and 1999 Region I Convention web site is created by Will Sherwood at address of www.bershad.com/ago

1998 A Worcester Chapter Certification Program for Worship Services is held for six weeks
Olivier Latry, organist at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, Master Class held at First Baptist Church
Lois Toeppner, organist (and Coordinator for the 1999 Region I Convention), performs at St. Joseph Church
Worcester Chapter Music Collection is dedicated and permanently housed at Holy Cross Music Library
Passing of Honorary Life Member William Self
Passing of Charter Member Allen A. Boutwelle
Fall Crawl to Hartford CT organized by Judith Ollikkala.
Member of first Worcester Chapter Executive Committee
F. Theodore Hopkins is made an Honorary Life Member

1999 Region I Convention Held in Worcester – Huge Success   ~190 Members in WorcAGO

2001 Passing of former dean, LeRoy K.Hanson

2009 Chapter Banquet & Metting at Cyprian Keys – Barclay Wood’s accomplishments and teaching history celebrated. 

2011 David Higgs, Organ Recital at All Saints Church
Open Loft Monday at WPI (New tracker portative and Aeolian-Skinner)
Organ crawl to New Haven, CT
Members’ Organ Recital at First Unitarian Church, pre-concert talk about First Unitarian’s Aeolian Skinner
Joan Lippincott Master Class in Hymn Playing at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Sudbury, shared event with Boston AGO
Mechanics Hall Holiday Concert (co sponsored)

2012 Carol Williams, Organist, Wesley United Methodist Church
AGO Scholarship Recital/Annual Meeting at First Baptist Church
20 Fingers at the Console, Members’ Duets Concert at Pakachoag Church
Kevin Jones, Organ Recital at First Unitarian Church
The Organ Leading Singing – Fresh Perspectives Workshop at Salem Covenant Church
Scott Lamlein, Organ Recital at First Unitarian Church
Vierne Day in Worcester co-sponsored by Holy Cross College and WorcAGO

  • “What You Never Knew about Vierne”, Organist Brigitte De Leesnyder
  • French Connection Concert, Organists Jean Galard and Brett Maguire at St. Joseph’s Church, 1928 Casavant, III/29, Op 1239

Brass Extravaganza, Organist William Ness at First Baptist Church with WPI Brass: Shostakovich 7th
Annual Christmas Concert at Mechanics Hall

2013 The Organ in Worship – service at First Baptist Church, William Ness, Organist
Choral Repertoire Workshop;  Leaders Michelle Graveline, Lucia Clemente-Falco, John Weit, Will Sherwood at Trinity Lutheran Church
First Mondays Open Console at St. Michael’s on the Heights
Katharine Pardee, Organ Recital at Pakachoag Church
WorcAGO Scholarship Student Marcel Sanders, Organist, with Youth Ensemble of New England at Mechanics Hall
Pavel Kohout, Organ Recital at Holy Cross College Chapel
WorcAGO Members Composers Concert at Wesley United Methodist Church
Wesley Hall, Organ Recital at Trinity Lutheran
Dexter Kennedy, Organ Recital at First Unitarian Church
Jennifer McPherson, Senior Organ Recital at Holy Cross College Chapel
Monday Open Console at Trinity Lutheran Church, Noack III/58M
Annual Meeting and Scholarship Recital at First Baptist Chapel, Organists Simone Brown, Sanghee Kim, Adrian Sanders, Marcel Sanders, Annette Siver, Karen Wielsma, Lydia Grek
Young Artist Concert, Monica Czausz, Organ Recital at First Unitarian Church
Young Artist Concert, Abraham Ross, Organ Recital at First Unitarian Church
Matthias Havinga, Amsterdam, Organ Recital at First Unitarian Church
William Ness, Organ Recital at Methuen Memorial Music Hall
Jonathan Bezdegian, Organ Recital at Our Lady of the Angels Church
Jake Street, Organ Recital at Mechanics Hall
Anna and Mary Pan at Mechanics Hall

2014 150th anniversary year of the Hook (Worcester) organ
The Holly and the Ivories celebrating Twelfth Night, Crown Hill private residence
The Peacemakers, Karl Jenkins, Choral/Orchestra at Mechanics Hall (Worcester Year of the Organ)
Hector Olivera, Organ Recital at Mechanics Hall
Hook Organ Re-dedication Concert – Mechanics Hall

Pedals Pipes and Pizza at Pakachoag

2016 Twelfth Night Party
Worcester (AGO) Composers Concert at Wesley
Rare Gems of the 19th Century: William Ness at Mechanics Hall
Hooked on Brass: WPI Brass + Hook at Mechanics Hall
Scholarship Recital & Annual Meeting at First U
James Kibbie at OLA
Sean Redrow and Brett Maguire at Mechanics Hall
Mini-concerts/demos at Worc AUD
Service Playing Workshop at Pakachoag
2016 Organ Festival at AUD – William Ness, Peter Krasinski, Peter Richard Conte at the Kimball
Organ Crawl in Worcester: Lunch, First U, Wesley, Holy Cross, Pakachoag
All that (Holiday) Jazz – Hook + WPI Stage Band at Mechanics Hall

2017  Twelfth Night Social at hosts Sean Redrow
A Symphonic Merger – Hook Organ and Worcester Youth Symphony Orchestra
Mark Mummert at Trinity
Loreto Aramendi at Assumption
Pedals Pipes and Pizza at Wesley
Leonardo Ciampa at Mechanics Hall
Mitchell Miller at St Josephs
Pipe Organ Plus at First Congregational
Court Hill Music Festival: Katelyn Emerson at First Unitarian; 40 Fingers (two-piano with organ) at First Unitarian
Scholarship Recital, Annual Meeting, and Farewell Reception for Malcolm Halliday at Shrewsbury FCC
Mark Mummert and Christian Copeley at Mechanics Hall


1949-1952 Frederick Kinsley
1952-1955 Clifford F. Green
1955-1956 Richard Taylor
1956-1957 Henry Hokans
1957-1958 Luke Richard
1958-1960 Irene Burnham
1960-1962 Alan D. Walker
1962-1964 Norman J. Roy
1964-1966 Barclay Wood
1966-1968 LeRoy K. Hanson
1968-1970 Douglas S. Risner
1970-1972 William E. Nierintz, ChM
1972-1974 Judith Jepson
1974-1975 Robert C. Dickinson
1975-1977 Rev. Donat Lamothe, a.a.
1977-1979 Stephen E. Long
1979-1980 Joyce Hokans
1980-1982 Gilbert H. Lay
1982-1984 Joseph R. Policelli, ChM, MM
1984-1986 Richard F. Jones, BA, MDiv
1986-1988 Lucia Clemente-Falco, CAGO
1988-1989 Stephen E. Long
1989-1990 Michelle Graveline, AAGO, DMA
1990-1991 Richard F. Jones
1991-1994 John Da Silva, AAS, BBA
1994-1996 Joseph R. Policelli, ChM, MM
1996-1998 Patricia Snyder, DMA
1998-2000 Malcolm Halliday, FAGO
2000-2002 Sean Redrow, DMA
2002-2004 Marjorie Ness, DMA
2004-2008 Frank Corbin
2008-2010 Ronna (Archbold) Davis, M.Ed.
2010-2018 Will Sherwood, ChM, AAGO
2018-2020  Mark Mummert
2020-2022  Jonathan Bezdegian  DMA
2022-2024  Ronna (Archbold) Davis  M.Ed.