Oh Shenandoah

Oh Shenandoah is an American folk tune from the early nineteenth century. While some associate the songs with the Shenandoah region of Virginia and West Virginia, the lyrics mention the Missouri river much further west. Shenandoah was actually an Oneida Indian chief and the original lyrics likely tell the story of a fur trader in love with the chief’s daughter.

See a list of other potential traditional song themes here.

Dorothy Papadakos

Dorothy PapadakosWebsite:

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.


Cafe St John: Improvisations on the Great Organ

Dorothy Over the Rainbow: Improvisations on the Great Organ

Timothy Tikker


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.

He is a member of the Concert Artist Cooperative.


Mystic Modern: The Music, Thought, and Legacy of Charles Tournemire
Includes an essay “Performance Practice for the Organ Music of Charles Tournemire” by Timothy Tikker.


The King of Kings (The Criterion Collection)
Timothy Tikker provides organ accompaniment for the 1931 version of the film included in this DVD.

Herbert Buffington

HerbertBuffingtonHerbert 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.


Joy to the World-Christmas Improvisations

Patrick A. Scott

PatrickScottYouTube Channel:

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.

Stations of the Cross:
Station I: (What Wondrous Love)
Station III: Jesus Falls the First Time
Station V: Simon of Cyrene Helps Jesus Carry the Cross
Station VII: Jesus Falls the Second Time
Station XI: Jesus is Nailed to the Cross and Station XII: Jesus Dies on the Cross

Tom Hazleton

hazletonTom 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.

Tom Hazleton – Free Hymn Improvisation on ‘Lobe Den Herren’ – Basilica of Mission San Dolores, San Francisco, California
Tom Hazleton – Free Hymn Improvisation on ‘Holy God, We Praise Thy Name’ – Basilica of Mission San Dolores, San Francisco, California

Michael Joseph

Michale JosephMichael 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.

YouTube Channel:

Michael Joseph – Improvisation on Hyfrydol – First Baptist Church of Nashua, NH
Michael Joseph – Symphonic Improvisation on ‘Slane’:Minuet – St. Joseph Cathedral, Manchester, NH
Michael Joseph – Symphonic Improvisation on ‘Slane’:Finale – St. Joseph Cathedral, Manchester, NH

Julian Wachner


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.

Julian Wachner – Improvisation on “Truro” (Lift Up Your Heads) – Trinity Church, Wall Street

Aaron David Miller


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.

He is represented by Penny Lorenz Artist Management at www.organists.net.


Aaron David Miller plays and improvises on The Pasi Organ

Aaron David Miller – “Joy to the World” – House of Hope Presbyterian, Saint Paul, MN