Dorothy Papadakos was mentored as an improviser by Paul Halley before succeeding him as the first woman to be Cathedral Organist of the world’s largest gothic cathedral, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. Some of her other teachers include Gerre Hancock, Dennis Keene, Jon Gillock and Lee Erwin. She often accompanies the silent films of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton & Harold Lloyd.
Originally from San Francisco, California, Timothy Tikker studied organ and improvisation with Guy Bovet. Through a Ruth Lorraine Close Award from the University of Oregon, he was able to travel to France and study with Jean Langlais. He recently completed his doctoral degree from the University of Michigan under Marilyn Mason. He won First Prize in the National Improvisation Competition in the San Anselmo Organ Festival in 1987 (USA), the Holtkamp-AGO Award in Organ Composition in 1993, and First Prize in the UNESP Organ Composition Competition (Brazil) in 1997.
Herbert Buffington won Second Prize in the American Guild of Organists National Competition in Organ Improvisation at the 2010 National Convention in Washington, D.C. He earned degrees from Duke University and the Peabody Conservatory of Music at The Johns Hopkins University. He also studied at the Vienna International Music Center and the Hochshule für Musik in Vienna, Austria. His organ teachers have included Fenner Douglass, Robert Parkins, Peter Planyavsky and Donald Sutherland. His improvisation teachers have included Bruce Neswick, David Dahl, and Gerre Hancock. He presently serves as organist at Peachtree Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dr. Patrick A. Scott was recently appointed as the new Assistant Organist-Choirmaster at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a graduate of Birmingham-Southern College and the University of Texas — where he studied with the late Dr. Gerre Hancock and Gerre’s wife, Dr. Judith Hancock. At the 2014 AGO convention in Boston, he won first place in the National Competition in Organ Improvisation.
Tom Hazleton (1942-2006) was a child prodigy. He began playing the pipe organ at First United Methodist Church in Pacific Grove when he was 13 years old. He attended the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, San Francisco State University, and the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia. He also studied with Richard Purvis and was assistant organist at Grace Cathedral. Hazleton was organist and music director from 1969 until 1975 at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palo Alto. He also served as organist and associate minister of music for 14 years at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, as well as professor of organ at the University of the Pacific in Stockton. He was named “Organist of the Year” in 1986 by the American Theatre Organ Society. In 2003 the ATOS inducted him into their Hall of Fame. He recorded over 60 LPs, cassettes, and CDs.
Michael Joseph earned both a Bachelor’s degree in Music Theory and Composition and a Master’s in Music Education from the University of New Hampshire in Durham. For over thirty years, Michael has worked in music education in both MA and NH and directed music ministries for several churches in Manchester. He also served as Director of Music Ministries for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester. He currently serves as an adjunct professor of music at Rivier University and Director of Music Ministries at First Baptist Church of Nashua.
Michael Joseph offered a masterclass to the Manchester AGO Chapter that you can watch here.
Michael Joseph offered a workshop at St. Joseph Cathedral in Manchester, NH in 2006 and was kind enough to share it on YouTube. He offers several simple tips and ideas that enable you to create simple pieces and fill time easily. I have assembled the entire series of videos below.
Julian Wachner currently serves as Director of Music and the Arts at Trinity Wall Street in New York City and Music Director of the Washington Chorus in Washington, DC. He studied improvisation, composition, organ and theory under Gerre Hancock while a chorister at the St. Thomas Choir School in New York City and eventually earned a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Boston University’s School for the Arts. He maintains an active career as conductor, composer, and performer.
Aaron David Miller is Music Director at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Minneapolis, MN. He earned degrees from the Eastman School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. His organ teachers include David Craighead, Russell Saunders, David Higgs, Michael Farris, and McNeil Robinson. He also studied composition with Samuel Adler and Joseph Schwantner.
In 1996, he won the American Guild of Organists National Competition in Organ Improvisation, and in 1998, he won the Bach and Improvisation Prizes at the Calgary International Organ Festival and Competition. His compositions have been performed by the Zurich Symphony, Seattle Symphony, and Toledo Symphony, and are are published through Augsburg Fortress, Paraclete Publishing, and Kjos Publishing House.
Concert organist McNeil Robinson has been praised by the international press as one of America’s leading virtuosos especially as an improviser. One of the most prominent musicians in New York City, McNeil Robinson has been organist and choirmaster at Park Avenue Synagogue since 1966 and served as music director and organist for Park Avenue Christian Church (1984–2007). Prior to his appointment at Park Avenue Christian, Robinson led a legendary music program for the Church of St. Mary the Virgin for two decades. Concurrently, he was director of music for the Church of the Holy Family, the parish church of the United Nations (1967–1978), and as director of music at the Trinity Institute, Trinity Church Wall Street (1970–1976). He served as Director of Music and Organist at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church until his deteriorating health forced him to retire. He passed away on May 9, 2015.
A graduate of the Juilliard School, Robinson is now chairman of the organ department of the Manhattan School of Music. His students (such as Justin Bischof and Jason Roberts) have won top awards in national and international organ competitions. He is also active as a conductor and has recorded for a number of commercial record labels including Decca and Musical Heritage Society.