Late Breaking News Flash

The Early Bird registration period has been extended.

The Early Bird rate of $450 is now available through April 30th,
and the Regular Rate of $495 will be in effect from May 1st through June 1st.

To register, please visit this link.

A letter to Students and Parents,

My name is Lad Pfeifer, and welcome to a quick glimpse into the Pipe Organ Encounter being hosted by the Springfield Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Western New England has a unique heritage of great pipe organs. Organ building and playing has been a New England tradition for a few centuries already. and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to share that experience with you. As Director of the POE, I want to introduce you to some of the people involved, and to highlight some of the fantastic fun activities you'll experience. We are all committed to making the week of July 10th the greatest POE ever, and we are doing it for you!


Well, if you’re wondering who is going to be guiding you on the path of a great pipe organ experience, you need wonder no more. Drs. Mary Murell and Quentin Faulkner have been recruiting teachers with reputations at home and abroad. On staff as your private instructors will be:

William Degan, teacher of physics & musical temperament

Christopher Houlihan, international concert artist

Peter Krasinski, First Prize AGO National Improvisation Competition

Roberta Morkin, United Congregational Church, Holyoke

Dr. Grant Moss, Smith College

Charles Page AAGO, retired Bay Path University

John Rose, Trinity College

Dr. Larry Schipull, Mount Holyoke College

David Spicer, founder of the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival

Eugina Sullivan, MM, MBA noted area recitalist and business women

Joseph DiMarino MM, O.L. of the Cross, Holyoke

Quentin Faulkner, SMD, AAGO, St. James Church, Greenfield

Michael Dulac, MM, Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Fort Wayne

Griffin McMahon, Julliard Graduate and “Rising Star”

Another update:

Opening day! Good Grief, what if I arrive early? Well fear not. We are planning on sending early arrivals out on the Great Smith College scavenger hunt that will let you start getting to know some other students and acquaint yourself with your new surroundings for the week. It’s only the start of fun because latter on July 10th Becky Isaacson, a lady who is a real hoot and local legend, will be hosting the evening “getting to know you ice breaker” using…. Ring a ding ding…. Handbells. So be prepared for musical chaos and having a blast!


Martha Sienkiewicz is our registrar for the POE. More importantly, she is the official house parent during your stay. Martha is truly warm hearted, kind, and generous, with years of experience working with high school aged students. During her many years of teaching her students loved her! If you ever have a serious problem during your stay you will be glad to have Mother Martha looking out for you. While you're having a fun and educational experience away from home, your parents can rest easy knowing that you are in good hands.

You can write directly to Martha if you have any questions.

Christopher Houlihan is one of America's finest young organists.  He will be involved with all aspects of our POE, serving as teacher, mentor, and performer. Only in his 20's, Chris has already charmed and enthralled people around the world, and he is something of a rock star in the Classical music world.

With a very inviting personality, Chris is an inspiration for every young musician.   One of the highlights of your week with Christopher will be an unforgettable performance at Trinity College, Hartford where he is Artist in Residence.   You can learn more about Christopher by visiting:

Another great artist who will be with you for the week is Peter Krasinski, Dean of the Boston AGO. Peter is famed for his stunning and seamless improvisations for silent films. In addition, Peter is an internationally known recitalist, he serves on the faculty of several schools in the Boston area, and he's a really fun guy. Beyond teaching at the POE, Peter will be giving a basic introduction to musical improvisation, helping students to be creative and to follow their own inspiration.

Peter will also give you an amazing night out as he improvises a live accompaniment to the epic science fiction drama Metropolis, a monumental 1927 silent film. This event will take place on the large four-manual Austin organ at John M. Greene Hall, Smith College. For more information about Peter visit:


POE update !

Christa Rakich, one of America’s celebrated organists, will be presenting an evening concert for the students the POE. Christa has a very diverse and celebrated career as an organist. She has a very devoted following, and to know more about her please visit her website:


Housing at Smith College

All students will be staying at Smith College, one of the seven-famed Ivy League Sister Schools. The large, open campus has abundant educational and recreational activities available. It is centrally located in the very pedestrian-friendly town of Northampton, which is considered one of the artistic centers of New England. Northampton is a very safe and student friendly community in which to spend a week discovering the organ. There’s no better place to spend part of your summer than in New England.

Where will you stay during the POE? Well, Smith College has reserved the historic Chase mansion just for us. The house was build during the golden years of wealth in the Northeast, and was tastefully converted into student housing for Smith College. In the front hall table there is a “compliment box” which immediately tells us this will be a great place to stay!  

The Chase mansion is centrally located on campus, so it will be easy to get around. The first floor rooms have one or two marble fireplaces each, and there is access to two grand pianos for practice and for just fooling around. On a more practical level, the house also has a kitchenette and laundry facilities. The dinning hall is a very short walk away, and they are already planning a barbeque night out in the courtyard during your stay. 

So, welcome to New England, you’ll be living (and sleeping) in grand style.

In my house we love to eat good food, and I'll bet you do too. Western Massachusetts has a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, and the colleges have a long-standing policy of using locally grown fresh produce. Smith College offers many options, including a kosher and halal menu. They will make every effort to accommodate vegan/vegetarian and special dietary needs whenever possible. Of course a variety of snacks will be constantly available.

Instruments Awaiting your Touch

The POE will be taking advantage of the wide variety of instruments available in this area. Many of the instruments have been featured in National and Regional Conventions. In 2015 the Organ Historical Society had their National Convention in Western Massachusetts. Students at the POE will be exposed to organs from the 19th through the 21st century. For a look at many of the fine instruments we'll be using visit this site.

A Visit to Hartford, Springfield’s Daughter City

Mike Fazio, President of Austin Organs, will give the POE a tour of the 50,000 square foot Austin Organs, Inc., one of America's oldest and largest organ builders. They've been pulling out all the stops since 1893. Austin is a noted builder of instruments for concert halls from Beijing, China to Portland, Maine. In addition, there are Austin organs in countless universities and churches on four continents.This tour gives a rare inside look into the making of the instruments we love to play. Here is a link to the home page of Austin Organs, Inc.

Following the tour of Austin shop, the POE will visit one of the largest instruments ever built by Austin, in St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hartford.  All POE students will have a hands-on opportunity to try this 8,000 pipe instrument, located in a church with phenomenal acoustics.

For more information about St. Joseph Cathedral, visit this site.

But wait, there's more...

Our visit to Hartford will be topped off with an evening meal on the lawn of Trinity College. While enjoying our dinner we will be treated to a recital played on the chapel’s carillon. This instrument consists of 49 bells, built in England and installed in 1932.

After dinner, Chris Houlihan will present a special POE recital on the celebrated Austin organ in the Trinity College chapel.  POE attendees will be seated in the beautiful wooden stalls, with ornately carved depictions of collegiate life. Being in this beautiful gothic-style chapel is like being in Europe without leaving home.

A rare treat will be the chance to learn about the inner workings of the King of Instruments with our guide, Bill Czelusniak. Bill is the head of one of the most respected organ maintenance firms in the Northeast, Czelusniak et Dugal, Inc. His firm has decades of experience rebuilding and maintaining organs both great and small.

Students will also spend time with Bill Degan, organist and physics teacher, examining the wide array and historical progression of tuning systems and their sometimes strange effects.

Many people are actively working to make this the greatest possible POE experience for you. It will be a fun filled week of daily lessons, practice time, and much more. The organs of western Massachusetts are awaiting your hands and feet, and everyone involved with our POE is looking forward to meeting you.

To register, please visit this link.

I hope to see you in July!

Ladislaw Pfeifer, POE Director





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