St. John’s Organ Society is pleased to announce our 29th Summer Recital Series on Maine’s largest 19th-Century mechanical-action pipe organ, E. & G. G. Hook’s magnificent Opus 288, at St. John’s Roman Catholic Church in Bangor.
These hour-long recitals occur on Thursday evenings at 7:30. St. John’s Catholic Church is located at 207 York Street in Bangor. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated.
Our opening concert (Thursday, July 28) features Bridgette Wargovich (Portland, ME) performing works of J. S. Bach, Felix Mendelssohn, and César Franck. Wargovich is Director of Sacred Music and Organist at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, Maine. A native of Massachusetts, she earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Organ Performance in 2018 and a Master of Sacred Music degree summa cum laude in 2014, both from Boston University. Her doctoral dissertation was entitled, “The King of Musical Instruments and the Spirit of the Liturgy: The Pipe Organ and Its Liturgical Repertoire Analyzed in Light of Ratzinger’s Theology of Liturgical Music.” The dissertation explored the theology of Pope Benedict XVI, linking his main themes to the pipe organ and its repertoire. Her principal organ teacher was Peter Sykes. Bridgette has a special love for sacred and liturgical music; she is dedicated to preserving and promoting this musical treasure.
On August 4, Dr. Juan A. Mesa (Norton, MA) performs music of J.S. Bach, Marcel Dupré, and Josef Rheinberger. A native of Puerto Montt in Chile, Mesa holds a Bachelor of Music degree in organ performance and composition from Western Connecticut State University, and both a Master of Music degree in organ performance and a PhD in Music Theory from Indiana University. His teachers include Stephen Roberts and Christopher Young in organ, Elisabeth Wright, harpsichord, and Todd Wilson and Jeffrey Smith, organ improvisation. Dr. Mesa has performed solo recitals across the US, Canada, Chile, and Argentina, and has collaborated with the Indiana-based Exordium Baroque Ensemble, the Choirs of Trinity Episcopal Church in Indianapolis, MYRIAM ensemble of Boston, and the University of Notre Dame’s Children’s Choir, among others. He is co-founder of Le Note Diverse, a Boston-based early music ensemble which specializes in under-represented music for plucked instruments and early keyboards. Dr. Mesa is an AGO Regional Competition for Young Organists’ first prize winner, and has performed organ concerts at regional and national AGO conventions and competitions. As a conductor, he specializes in historically-informed performances of baroque and early classical repertoire for voices and instruments, and has led projects including all-Bach and all-Buxtehude marathons. He is currently College Organist and Assistant Professor of Music Performance (organ) at Wheaton College in Norton, MA, as well as Music Minister at the Roslindale Congregational Church in Boston, and Director of Music and Organist at
The August 11 concert features Sarah Johnson (Rochester, NY) performing music of John Knowles Paine, Jacques van Oortmerssen, and J. S. Bach. Johnson is a candidate for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Eastman School of Music, where she studies with David Higgs. A native of Garland, Maine, Johnson began her organ lessons with Kevin Birch, organist and music director at Saint John’s Catholic Church in Bangor. In her undergraduate degree at Vassar College she studied organ with Gail Archer, and piano with Todd Crow. Johnson holds a Master of Sacred Music from Boston University, where she studied organ with Peter Sykes. Since beginning college, Johnson has performed in New York City at Central Synagogue, and in Boston at Old West, Trinity Copley, and Holy Name Parish. She was named an E. Power Biggs Fellow of the Organ Historical Society in 2013. Johnson was featured as a rising star and guest recitalist at the 2017 Musforum Conference in Omaha, Nebraska, and took part in a master class at Aspen Music Festival in Colorado. She recently performed at Methuen Memorial Music Hall in Methuen, MA on their 74th annual series. During her time in Boston, Johnson was Organ Scholar at Holy Name Parish in West Roxbury and Assistant Librarian at the Organ Library of the American Guild of Organists. In Rochester, Johnson was the Organ Assistant (VanDelinder Prize Winner) at Christ Church for the years 2018-2020. Johnson currently serves as Minister of Music at the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Rochester.
Katherine Johnson (Oberlin, OH) performs music of Felix Mendelssohn, Florence Price, and Ethel Smyth on August 18. Johnson is a senior in the organ department at Oberlin Conservatory, where she studies with Christa Rakich. She is enrolled in Oberlin’s double degree program, studying Organ Performance and English. Katherine currently serves as Organist and Music Director at Church of the Redeemer in Lorain, OH. Prior to taking this position, Katherine worked as Organ Scholar at Plymouth Church UCC in Shaker Heights, and before beginning at Oberlin, as the Cathee Jean Huber Organ Scholar at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Greenville, NC. In 2016, Katherine was awarded the first prize in the high school division of the Albert Schweitzer Organ Competition, and subsequently performed on the Winner’s Recital at the 2017 Schweitzer Festival. She has participated in a number of other competitions in the southeastern U.S., including the Quimby Regional Competition for Young Organists, the Greater Columbia AGO Competition, and the 2014 ECMAEF competition in Greenville, N.C. Katherine spent the summer of 2019 working as Organ Teaching Assistant at Interlochen Arts Camp, with Thomas Bara. Her former teachers are Phil Valera, Samantha Koch, and Andrew Scanlon.
The August 25 concert features Daniel Pyle (organ) and Catherine Bull (flute) (Bar Harbor, ME) performing music of Gabriel Fauré, Jehan Alain, César Franck, and J. S. Bach. Daniel Pyle is organist/music-director at St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church in Bar Harbor, artistic-director of the Acadia Choral Society, and harpsichordist and leader of the Baroque ensemble Harmonie Universelle. He has also conducted the annual performance of Handel’s Messiah for Blue Hill Bach in 2018 and 2019, and for the Congress of the the International Viola d’amore Society in 2016, 2018, and 2022. He was a student of Warren Hutton at the University of Alabama, of Gustav Leonhardt and Hans van Nieuwkoop at the Sweelinck Conservatorium of Amsterdam, and holds a doctoral degree from the Eastman School of Music.
Catherine Bull maintains an active career in both modern and historical flutes. She is the flutist in the ensemble Harmonie Universelle, and for 20 years was the principal flutist of the Atlanta Baroque Orchestra, as well as principal for the Southern Crescent Symphony Orchestra in Atlanta. For the National Flute Association she has presented workshops and recitals, and chaired and adjuicated national competitions. Her performances have been heard in Europe, England, the United States, on NPR’s Performance Today, at the Early Music Festivals of Utrecht, Boston, and Berkeley, and at the International Low Flutes Festival (including her own composition). A degree-holder from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the New England Conservatory, she was a Rotary Fellow for study in Belgium, where her primary teacher was Wilbert Hazelzet of Musica Antiqua Köln, and was awarded a fellowship by the King Baudouin Foundation to study with Frank Theuns.
Our season finale (September 1) features Kevin Birch (Bangor, ME) playing music of Dudley Buck, Arthur Foote, and Robert Schumann. Birch began organ studies with Yuko Hayashi on the C. B. Fisk organ at Old West Church in 1979 and earned the Bachelor of Music Degree at New England Conservatory (with Distinction in Performance) in 1987. He continued studies with Klaas Bolt at the Sweelinck Conservatory in Amsterdam and later with Delores Bruch at the University of Iowa where he earned the Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees. Since 1992 he has served as Director of Music at St. John’s Catholic Church in Bangor, Maine where he also serves as Executive Director of St. John’s Organ Society – a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and stewardship of E. & G. G. Hook’s Opus 288 built for St. John’s Church in 1860. Kevin is a member of the music faculty at the University of Maine’s School of the Performing Arts in Orono and serves on the Liturgical Commission for the Diocese of Portland. He has performed solo recitals in the US, Canada, Europe, and in South America, and for several national conventions of the Organ Historical Society. He is especially devoted to the many fine historic organs in Maine on which he enjoys frequent opportunities to study and perform.