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University of Iowa News Release


Feb. 14, 2008

Organists gather Feb. 29 & March 1 to honor 'consummate teacher' Disselhorst

More than 35 years of organ teaching at the University of Iowa will be celebrated in three performances Friday and Saturday, Feb. 29 and March 1, both featuring and honoring Delbert Disselhorst on the occasion of his retirement from the UI School of Music.

The performances, including the world premiere of a new work commissioned for Disselhorst by his friends and former students, will be in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

--Disselhorst will play a recital of the music of J.S. Bach, a composer who has been a touchstone for most of Disselhorst's career, at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 29.

--Former students of Disselhorst and alumni of the UI School of Music will perform at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 1. The program will include the world premiere of Craig Phillips' "Fantasia on Sine nomine," performed by Brett Wolgast.

--Six guest organists who are colleagues and close friends of Disselhorst will perform at 4 p.m. Saturday.

All three concerts will be open to the public, free of charge.

The reunion and performances honoring Disselhorst were organized by Wolgast, a former student and UI alumnus who is an adjunct faculty member in the School of Music. Wolgast commented, "Disselhorst's teaching career is marked by excellence in all areas and aspects of a life in higher education. He has demonstrated excellence in the classroom and in private instruction, excellence in research and excellence in performance.

"He is a consummate teacher, and his personal example continues to inspire all who know, work or study with him."

In his solo recital, at 8 p.m. Friday, Disselhorst will play works of J.S. Bach:

--Prelude and Fugue in G Major, BWV 541.
--Sonata III, BWV 527.
--Prelude and Fugue in A Major, BWV 536.
--Pièce d'Orgue (Piece for organ) BWV 572.
--Sarabande con Partite (after an Overture 9by J.B. Lully), BWV 990.
--Three chorale preludes.
--Toccata and Fugue in F Major, BWV 540.

"Since my years studying with Helmut Walcha in Germany as a Fulbright student, the core of my performance repertoire has been the works of J.S. Bach," Disselhorst said. "While I have played and enjoy playing repertoire from all periods and composers, Bach is the one composer with whom I am most comfortable in recital and the composer from whom I continue to learn the most.

"I have found over the years that audiences have a special appreciation for Bach, so a diverse program of Bach works seemed the appropriate choice for this occasion."

Revered today as one of the greatest composers of European music history, Bach was a devout Lutheran who spent much of his creative life writing music for church services. He was also recognized as one of the greatest organists of his generation, and his organ works reflect a complete mastery of compositional technique and a thorough knowledge of the instrument. They are considered among the essential works for all church organists.

The Alumni Recital, at 1 p.m. Saturday, will feature 11 former Disselhorst students, who have returned from as far away as Canada, Pennsylvania and Texas to take art in the celebration. In addition to Wolgast, the former students appearing on the program will be Greg Peterson, Ruth Hurlburt, John Sebolt, Roy Carroll, Christiaan Teeuwsen, Shelly Moorman-Stahlman, Mary Sebolt, Rudy Zuiderveld, David Henning and Gerhild Krapf.

The program will include works by Johann Georg Boehm, J.S. Bach, Gustav Adolf Merkel, Johannes Brahms, Charles-Marie Widor, Max Reger, Marcel Dupré, Gerhard Krapf and John Eggert.

The concert will conclude with the premier of Phillips' "Fantasia on Sine nomine," commissioned for this celebration weekend by the former students. It is based on the hymn tune 'Sine nomine,' best known as Ralph Vaughn Williams' melody written for the text "For All the Saints." It was suggested to the composer as a subject for the commission because it is a favorite hymn of Disselhorst.

The work was completed at the end of January, and it was Disselhorst who asked Wolgast to perform the premiere. The alumni who paid for the commission will present Disselhorst with a personalized and autographed copy of the score during the weekend.

The Colleagues Recital, at 4 p.m. Saturday, will feature six organists selected by Disselhorst as some of his closest and colleagues: John Ditto from the University of Missouri, Kansas City; Robert Triplett, retired artist in residence at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon and the UI; John Chappell Stowe from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; William Kuhlman, organist emeritus at Luther College in Decorah; Larry Smith from Indiana University; and Craig Cramer from Notre Dame.

Carl Staplin from Drake University was unable to attend.

The program will feature works by Girolamo Frescobaldi, J.S. Bach, Johann Ludwig Krebs, Olivier Messiaen, Alice Jordan and Toni Zahnbrecher.

Disselhorst has been a member of the UI School of Music faculty since 1970. As a concert artist, he has performed in the United States, Canada and Europe. He has appeared as a recitalist for several regional conventions and for the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists in Houston, Texas, in 1989. He has been a featured artist for international festivals and concert series in the cathedrals of Trier and Limburg and the Munster in Freiburg, Germany. For more information see

A visiting faculty member at the UI School of Music, Wolgast is cantor at First Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids. He is also a member of the music faculty and College Organist at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, where he teaches organ, piano and music theory-related courses. He achieved nationwide recognition by winning two national competitions: the American Guild of Organists Open Competition in Organ Playing, and the Ft. Wayne, Ind., National Organ Competition. For more information see

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. You may visit the UI School of Music Web site at

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.


STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Peter Alexander, 319-384-0072 (office), 319-541-2846 (cell),