Nicole Simental Takes First Prize in The IV International Goedicke Organ Competition

nicoleNicole Simental was awarded First Prize in The IV International Goedicke Organ Competition held September 18-24 at the Moscow Conservatory in Moscow, Russia. Americans choosing to enter the competition had to first successfully navigate two performance rounds held in Muncie, Indiana in May of 2016.  As one of two Americans selected to move on, Nicole then competed in another two solo rounds (semifinals/finals) of different music as well as a final concert performance with orchestra of the Poulenc Organ Concerto. The jury was consisted almost entirely of Russian and German organists.

There were nine semifinalists from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and the U.S.A., and five finalists, of which Nicole was the only American, against four Russian organists.  Each of the solo rounds included a required work by a Russian composer.  In addition to receiving First Prize, Nicole was awarded a best performance Diploma for the obligatory Russian work played in the final round.  This work was sent to each contestant two weeks prior to the competition.

As First Prize recipient, Nicole received 320,000 Rubles and the opportunity to present solo organ concerts at the Moscow conservatoire, the Omsk philharmonic society, the Perm philharmonic society, the Chapel Taurian (St. Petersburg), and the Academic M. Glinka Chapel (St. Petersburg).

Nicole has completed coursework for the D.M. in Organ as a student of Chris Young at the Jacobs School of Music. She is currently organist at First Christian Church and accompanist for the St. Paul’s Catholic Center in Bloomington, Indiana.

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Organist Fishell puts Franck’s majesty, beauty on full display


By Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer

It took Janette Fishell 21 concerts spread over a period of three-plus years to display for us her mastery of and love for the organ music composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. It will take just two programs for organist Fishell to share her commitment to Cesar Franck.

One half of this latest commitment was presented Monday evening in Auer Hall. The rest will follow Jan. 10. Take note.

True it is that composer/organist/pianist/teacher Franck was far less productive as composer than his far more famous predecessor. But this Belgian-born, then turned French musician did impressively whatever he chose to do, and that certainly includes what he created for his dearly beloved instrument, the organ. The combination of Franck and Fishell and that marvelous organ of endless capacity in Auer Hall proved illuminating and exciting.

The repertoire Fishell chose for her program 1 were Franck’s Three Pieces, written in 1878, and his Three Chorales, composed during the last year of his life, 1890. Fishell says she was drawn early to Franck’s music and that the magnetism has grown ever since. She seems to need authority over his output, stating that in the organ works of Franck and Bach, there exists “the very epicenter of an organist’s artistic formation.”

Since Fishell is chair of the organ department in IU’s Jacobs School, she apparently feels a double need, meaning not just for herself but also for the department’s organ majors. They need, she explains, to understand Franck’s chromatic language and to “work diligently to stretch the hand, in order to span veritable cathedrals of chords, while also reveling in the majesty of Franck’s Maestosos and the sumptuous beauty of his pliable melodies.”

“Maestoso” refers to music the dictionary defines as “majestic, dignified, a style characterized by lofty breadth.” Fishell made sure to prove the dictionary right. What one heard was about 80 minutes of uninterrupted majesty, dignity and lofty breadth. She took commanding charge as she made page after page after page come to life.

One wondered how many notes could be compressed into that period of time: notes from the keyboards, from the pedals, from chords, from runs and trills. Well, Fishell compressed and made magnificent music to hear out of them, of composer Franck’s pieces and chorales as he must have wanted them to be played. Adding to the inspired scores that Franck left, Fishell read the music with a depth of understanding and, one supposes, profound reverence.

While acknowledging applause and cheers at program’s end, she raised one hand in salute to the organ and, one can assume, to Cesar Franck. A trio: score, organ, and organist. Together, they deserve high praise.

© Herald Times Online 2016

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American Public Media airs Jacobs School of Music Pipedreams Concerts

American Public Media has released the October and November program listings for Pipedreams. Included are the two episodes of Pipedreams Live! recorded at the Jacobs School of Music in February of this year. The concerts feature performances by organ professors Janette Fishell and Christopher Young along with their students. The Feb. 13 Auer Hall recital airs on Monday, Oct. 10, while the Feb. 14 Alumni Hall recital airs on Monday, Oct. 17. Both programs can be heard at 10 pm locally on WFIU, and at other times throughout those weeks at stations around the country that carry Pipedreams.

PIPEDREAMS Program No. 1641: Airing on 10/10/2016
Pipedreams Live! at Indiana University (I) . . . from Auer Hall at the Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, this first of two programs featuring organ students of Janette Fishell and Christopher Young.

[Hour 1]
Tournemire/Duruflé: Improvisation sur le ‘Te Deum’ – JinHee Kim
J. S. Bach: Fugue in D Major, BWV 532 – Diana Chou
J. S. Bach: ‘Kyrie, Gott heilieger Geist’ from “Clavierubung III” – Matthew Gerhardt
Parry: Fantasia in G Major, Op. 188/1 – Lucas Fletcher
Reger: Benedictus, Op. 59 No. 9 – Leah Martin
Barié: Elégie – Mike Powell
Dupré: Cortège et litanie, Op. 19 No. 2 – Ryan Brunkhurst

[Hour 2]
Vierne: ‘Naiades’ from “Pièces de fantaisie, Suite IV, Op. 55” – Carolyn Craig
Bolcom: Sweet Hour of Prayer – Katie Burk
Mathias: Jubilate, Op. 67 No. 2 – Nikolai Peek
Albright: Chorale Prelude (1967) – Douglas Reed
Froberger: Toccata da sonarsi alla levatione – Nicholas Quardokus
Stang: Selections from “Potpourri” (2016) – Nicholas Quardokus
Escaich: Evocation II (1996) – Nara Lee

The featured instrument in Auer Hall was built by C. B. Fisk of Gloucester, MA (Opus 135, 68-ranks) and inaugurated in April 2010.

PIPEDREAMS Program No. 1642: Aairing on 10/17/2016
Pipedreams Live! at Indiana University (II) . . . from Alumni Hall at the Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, this second program featuring organ students of Janette Fishell and Christopher Young, plus their teachers.

[Hour 1]
Mendelssohn: Sonata in B-Flat Major, Op. 65 No. 4 – Brent te Velde
J. S. Bach: Nun komm der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659 – Nohn Nothaft
Bruhns: Praeludium in G Minor – Chere Ko
J. S. Bach: Selections from Organ Sonata No. 4 in E Minor, BWV 528 – Jaime Carini
Eben: ‘Gretchen’ from “Faust for Organ” – Janette Fishell
Sweelinck: Pavana lachrymae, SwWV 328 – Robert Welch

[Hour 2]
Glass/Riesman/Joyce: Satyagraha (Act III conclusion) – Christopher Young
Vierne: Organ Symphony No. 3 in F-Sharp Minor, Op. 28 – Peter Rogahn
Vierne: Selections from “Pièces de fantaisie, Suite 1, Op. 51” – Dalong Ding
Dupré: Antiphon 3 and Magnificat 6, from Vepres du commun, Op. 18 – Charles Webb
Vierne: ‘Allegro’ from “Organ Symphony No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 20” – Nicole Simental

The featured instrument in Alumni Hall was built in 1987 by C. B. Fisk (Opus 91, 56-ranks) and originally installed in a special auditorium on the grounds of Pony Tracks Ranch in Portola Valley, CA. It was relocated to Bloomington in 2013.

For more information about these recitals, please visit the event pages:
February 13 Recital in Auer Hall
February 14 Recital in Alumni Hall

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First Presbyterian Santa Barbara Appoints Organist


Kevin Rose, MM 1998, has been appointed organist of First Presbyterian Church of Santa Barbara where he is in command of the largest pipe organ between Los Angeles and San Francisco (Casavant Opus 3192, 74 ranks, 5 manuals, Johannus Console). Kevin is also an electrical engineer for a small company in Santa Barbara.


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Reed’s Albright Organ Works recording released on iTunes

The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre, and Dance has released William Albright Organ Works, recorded by Adjunct Professor of Organ, Douglas Reed, on the historic Frieze Memorial Organ built in 1928 by E.M. Skinner for Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor. Administered by UM’s Block M Records, the recording is available on iTunes at

The recording focusses on Albright’s early organ works closely associated with the Frieze Memorial Organ: Juba (1965), Pneuma (1966), Organbook (1967) and Organbook II (1970-71). Also included are the fifth movement (unpublished) of Organbook (“Chorale Prelude”) and De Spiritum (1988), a rarely performed 20-minute work for organ, two assistants, and percussion.

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Brent te Velde Wins 2015 Rodland Scholarship Competition

Organist Brent te Velde is this year’s winner of the 2015 John R. Rodland Memorial Scholarship awarded under the auspices of the Northern New Jersey Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. The three finalists, selected by a recorded round, were required to perform a program of mixed repertoire. They were also asked to play a hymn, run a rehearsal, and interview with the judges. The competition aims to award organists with outstanding performance and liturgical skills. A DM organ student of Chris Young, Mr. te Velde received the $10,000.00 first prize following the competition April 19, 2015.

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Two DM students selected to compete in final rounds of international competition

Two of my DM students , JinHee Kim and Brent te Velde competed in the first
round of the Mikael Tariverdiev International Organ Competition, North
American Round, which took place April 9-11.  The other two preliminary rounds
are to be held in Moscow and Hamburg.  Finalists from all three preliminaries
will take place in Kalingrad, Russia, in early September (4-9).

Both students were selected to compete in the Kalingrad final
round.  JinHee Kim was named winner of the North American Round.  As a result,
she will perform a recital at Bales Recital Hall, University of Kansas on a
future date.

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Music review: Penhorwood Birthday Concert

Concert a wonderful 75th birthday tribute to organist Penhorwood

By Peter Jacobi


The person or persons that dreamed up Tuesday night’s birthday party in Auer Hall deserve praise. So do the musicians, faculty and students, who carried it off.

Those that performed “Organ Works of Edwin Penhorwood, in Celebration of His 75th Birthday” offered a wonderful tribute to that fine and gifted gentleman while providing the gathered audience a heartwarming musical event.

Edwin Penhorwood

Edwin Penhorwood

Penhorwood, while on the Indiana University Jacobs School faculty, gained fans when IU Opera Theater produced his uproarious opera, “Too Many Sopranos.” I also recall a rewarding recital of his lyrical songs. Tuesday’s fare was written for church services.

Five distinguished organists divided the critically important organ duties. Charles Webb, Janette Fishell, Marilyn Keiser and Colin Andrews each performed four of composer Penhorwood’s works for the church: toccatas, a fanfare, a prayer, transcriptions and adaptations of hymns, anthems and spirituals. Bruce Neswick lent his talent to the closing item on the program, a Fantasy on “Praise to the Lord” that involved just about the whole lineup of performers, including a chorus.

The organ music one heard, written between 1966 and 2014, was steeped in church traditions and yet often had harmonic updates, even dissonances, and touches of contemporary development that added surprise and interest to the listening. Familiar titles appeared in the printed program as sources for Penhorwood’s imagination and religious zeal, among them “In the Cross of Christ I Glory,” “Christ the Lord Is Risen today,” “All Glory Laud and Honor,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” “There Is a Balm in Gilead” and “Crown Him with Many Crowns.”

One jubilant piece called for organ and vocal soloist. Charles Webb and soprano Riley Swatos rousingly presented a setting of Psalm 47 (“O clap your hands all ye people: Shout unto God with the voice of triumph”). Another celebratory hymn, “All Creatures of Our God and King,” required organ (Marilyn Keiser), soprano (Shannon Love), and trumpet (John Rommel), and they certainly stirred the air.

The concert-closing Fantasy on “Praise to the Lord” brought a student chorus of 23 to the Auer Hall balcony, Bruce Neswick to the organ, and to the stage a lengthy list of faculty friends: John Rommel and Joey Tartell, trumpet; Dale Clevenger and Jeff Nelsen, horn; Carl Lenthe, trombone; Daniel Perantoni, tuba; John Tafoya, timpani; and Dominick DiOrio to conduct. Mighty sounds they made in honor of a friend’s 75th birthday, one he’ll remember a long time, one that surely satisfied an audience of friends and other music devotees, including the writer of these words.


© Herald Times 2014


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Upcoming recital to celebrate Edwin Penhorwood’s Birthday

Birthday celebration will be a musical treat for all

By Peter Jacobi


He must be well pleased. Edwin Penhorwood is marking his 75th birthday, and to help him celebrate the occasion, the event, a lengthy list of colleagues from the Jacobs School of Music has readied a recital of his works for organ.

Edwin Penhorwood’s 75th birthday will be marked with a concert featuring his organ music. The concert is 8 p.m. Tuesday in Auer Hall.

Edwin Penhorwood’s 75th birthday will be marked with a concert featuring his organ music. The concert is 8 p.m. Tuesday in Auer Hall.

To be precise, here is the cast for what looks like an extravaganza to be performed in Auer Hall on Tuesday evening at 8: starting with five organists: Colin Andrews, Janette Fishell, Marilyn Keiser, Bruce Neswick and Charles Webb. Add two sopranos, Shannon Love and Riley Svatos; two trumpets, played by John Rommel and Joey Tartell; two horns, Dale Clevenger and Jeff Nelsen; Carl Lenthe on trombone; Daniel Perantoni on tuba; and John Tafoya on timpani. Add a chorus called Lobe den Herren and conductor Dominick DiOrio. It’s a distinguished lineup.

Birthday boy Penhorwood’s compositions, those to be performed, cover a range of decades, from “Psalm 47,” written in 1966, to several written this year. His organ works, he says, are based on well-known hymn tunes, African-American spirituals, and toccatas. The concert concludes with a festive Fantasy on “Praise to the Lord” for organ, brass, timpani and chorus.

The whole event sounds festive and serves as a deserved tribute to a gifted and giving musician: a rich array of local talents and the great Seward Organ paying homage to the man and his music.

A few recordings

I’ll be discussing CDs more extensively in weeks to come, but for now, let me mention three with local ties.

• There’s the CD titled “Joshua Bell BACH,” the violinist’s first major effort to capture on records the music of “the composer who got me hooked on music in the first place” and one of whose concertos was the choice when, as a 7-year-old, he made his first appearance with an orchestra.

Purists seeking a historically informed performance on period instruments will probably not be satisfied with the new recording.

The soloist explains his approach: “I believe that the early music movement has revolutionized the way the world listens to Baroque music, in a very good way. While I have incorporated in my musical philosophy much of what I have learned from this movement, I have also tried to retain in my approach to Bach some of the ‘modern sensibilities’ that are so rooted in the way I was taught to play the violin. The result is, I hope, a melding of the old and the new, which I suppose sums up what it is to be a classical musician in the modern world.”

Well, when the performing violinist is as good as Bloomington native Josh Bell, I bend, not that I am an unbending purist to begin with. I can enjoy those who play Bach the way virtuosi used to. And I enjoyed listening to this recording. One hears first the Violin Concertos No. 1 and 2 beautifully articulated, as one would expect, with the violinist’s Academy of St. Martin in the Fields as the comfortably collaborating chamber orchestra.

The most controversial element on the CD is the Bach Chaccone from his second Partita, surely one of the most challenging solo piano pieces ever written, a work severe, unyielding and powerful. To it, for it, Mendelssohn once prepared a piano accompaniment, which Bell decided to use but in a re-arrangement for orchestra by Julian Milone. The result is a definite softening of the original, not my preference but interesting and still a vehicle for violin virtuoso. Bell supplies the virtuosity, as he does for the remaining items on the CD: the famous Air on a G String and the Gavotte en Rondeau. (Sony Classical)

• We’ve been immersed the past couple of years with Shostakovich on a series of CDs issued by Cedille featuring IU’s resident string quartet, the Pacifica. Those of you who have listened to the group’s cycle of the Shostakovich quartets and those who have come to its periodic recitals in Auer Hall know how remarkable is the quality of the Pacifica’s music making. Well, now comes another CD, this one featuring the Pacifica plus the very fine Anthony McGill, first clarinetist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

The content of the new disc: Mozart and Brahms Clarinet Quintets. First, let me say that the pairing of the musicians is someone’s genius decision.

The Mozart quintet is exquisite to hear. I like the phrasing. I like the subtlety of approach. I like the beauty of tone the five musicians produce and the balance between the clarinet and the four strings. I love the music, of course, and appreciate the taste, the musicality, and elegance of style the performers bring to their assignment.

Perhaps even better than the Mozart is the Brahms. McGill must produce tones that range from almost not there in volume to stormy fortissimos. There are emotions to declare in this music. Clarinetist McGill does, and so do his string collaborators. The reading exudes great passion, just as Brahms undoubtedly wanted. Both the Mozart and the Brahms make for listening that excites. (Cedille)

• The cover of the third item I want to share states: “Lawrence Brownlee, Virtuoso Rossini Arias.” Well, virtuoso they certainly are, as Rossini written and as tenor Brownlee sung.

For the past 10 years or so, Brownlee and the perhaps still more famous Juan Diego Florez have shared the world stage as outstanding exponents of the bel canto music left by Rossini, Bellini and Donizetti. My own choice between the two, not because he is an IU grad but because I prefer the quality of his voice, has been Brownlee. The instrument is less nasal, of a purer quality and equally flexible. Both have enviable tops.

If you like the bel canto operas, in this case those of Rossini, I urge you to listen to Brownlee. He sings one aria each from eight operas, some of them not very well known: “La Gazza Ladra,” “Le Comte Ory,” “LOccasione fa il Ladro,” “Otello,” “Semiramide,” “Il Turco in Italia,” “La Donna del Lago” and “Zelmira.”

Each task is formidable, with gobs of flashy passages. Brownlee tosses everything off as if done easily. And throughout, one hears a voice of beauty attached to a musician of taste and the ability to conquer even the most florid passages. (Delos)

More to come.

Contact Peter Jacobi at

If you go

WHAT AND WHO: 75th birthday celebration for Edwin Penhorwood, focused on his organ music. Performers include current and former Jacobs School faculty members (five of them organists), a chorus, and two student sopranos.

WHERE: Auer Hall on the Bloomington IU campus.

WHEN: Tuesday evening at 8.


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Fishell completes final ‘Sebastian’ performance to a standing ovation

By Peter Jacobi

The ovation, of a standing kind, was sustained across two minutes. Its recipient: the courageous Janette Fishell who, on Monday evening, completed her daunting, 21-concert “Seasons of Sebastian” series.

The series, designed to include all of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music for organ, began in October 2010. Since then, the undaunted Fishell has, indeed, tackled that mountain of manuscripts. The concerts varied in length. Most were about an hour’s duration. The closing event had her at the newly installed organ in Indiana University’s Alumni Hall for an hour and three quarters. That’s a lot of wrist, hand and finger exercise. That’s a lot of legs and feet aerobics.

Consider the task in its totality and enormity: hunting up all the music; determining musicologically what is genuine and what, despite claims and tradition, might not have been authored by Bach; studying the scores and their performance histories; preparing each piece with diligent practice, so to master music of immense challenges; authoring program notes of depth and insight; testing the different organs used (in Auer Hall, in various churches around town, in Alumni Hall); making sure concert and concert site details were taken care of, and — finally — performing, all this, of course, while taking care of teaching duties, faculty responsibilities and running the IU Jacobs School of Music’s organ department.

Monday’s standing ovation was deserved: for Fishell having accomplished the all of her enormous quest and for playing this final “Seasons of Sebastian” concert so consummately.

Fishell had labeled the first concert “A Man for All Seasons,” drawing samples of work from various aspects of Bach’s life. On Monday, her concert was called “My End Is My Beginning,” a way to announce that, once again, she was taking samples from the master’s ever-changing experiences: a Prelude and Fugue from when he was a precocious child; a Fantasia from his schoolboy days; a Chorale Prelude from his young manhood period; his Concerto in A Minor, “after Antonio Vivaldi,” inspired by a composer whose music he greatly admired; a set of six “Catechism Chorales” taken from Bach’s maturity, and — to conclude — the brilliant Fugue in E-Flat Major, BWV 552, surely an ultimate test of an organist’s skills.

To show how seriously Fishell thought about the music she performed, take these two sentences about the final Fugue from her program notes: “The chorale tune is set simply in the pedal. . Overhead, the music soars like an airplane flying through patches of turbulence and smooth air, alternately bouncing around in jagged leaps and sliding smoothly in curving scale passages, until safely arriving at home in a simple brief D major triad.”

And to show her reverence for Bach, to help us understand why she took this amazing musical journey, consider this passage from her notes: “Truly, Sebastian Bach’s music is a gift for all, throughout time and space — one to be savored, given away freely and not jealously hoarded, created anew, at times wrestled with, torn apart, played with and not just enshrined, questioned, proclaimed, whispered, and, most of all, loved.”

We’ve witnessed an extraordinary achievement. For sure, we’ll be hearing more by and about Bach from a zealot in our midst, Janette Fishell.

© Herald Times 2013


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