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RCCO Vancouver Centre Annual Members Recital

Vancouver organists present an eclectic programme on St James’ majestic three-manual Casavant organ.  This annual event is a great opportunity to hear and meet Vancouver organists as their performance bring to life the rich pallete of sound of the historic pipe organ.

Admission is by donation, and the event is followed by a reception. Please confirm your attendance for planning purposes.

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The Organists

Born in Vancouver, BC, Angelique Po has given recitals on organ, piano and harpsichord. She is a frequent collaborator with soloists and choirs such as the Vancouver Bach Choir, Vancouver Oratorio Singers, Vivaldi Chamber Choir, Phoenix Chamber Choir, and the Church Music Ministry of Canada. She has performed two concerts of new music for Vancouver Pro Musica, one on organ with trombonist Jeremy Berkman, and one of all solo organ music. She has served in organ appointments at St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, Central Presbyterian Church and First Baptist Church in Vancouver. She is currently Interim Music Director and Organist at St. Andrew's-Wesley United Church.

Christopher Dalton started his journey of passion and exploration into all aspects of the pipe organ as a youngster attending Sea Scouts in Esquimalt, BC.  His troop did a gathering at a Sunday service in front of the late 1800s organ at St Peter & St Paul's Anglican Church.  Hearing that organ inspired him ever since to learn more about the rich and diverse nature of these great instruments and their builders.  To date he has tried out over 160 different pipe organs throughout Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the United States.  An organ historian and author of the 2010 publication "Pipe Organ's of British Columbia," Christopher approaches the instrument by trying out different and unique registrations while using free improvisation in a form of musical meditation.  On rare occasions he has performed his music in public during church services and special events such as this one.

Cindy Ma, grew up in mainland China, from a family passionate in classical music. She went to the States for graduate school in engineering before coming to Canada. In Vancouver, she's been taking organ lessons, playing in member recitals, and going to  concerts. She currently works in a financial institution as a senior software developer and she owns a cat with amazing energy, who constantly improvises on the piano.

Denis Bédard has given recitals across Canada, in the United States, in France and in Brazil and pursues an international career as a composer.  He was organist and music director at Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver from 2001 to 2021. In 2020 the Royal Canadian College of Organists awarded him the Diploma of Fellowship (honoris causa) and in 2021 the Royal School of Church Music awarded him the title of Fellow (honoris causa).  His compositions include chamber music, orchestral and vocal music and many organ works.  He has received commissions from Radio-Canada, the CBC, the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, the RCCO, the RSCM, Monaco Cathedral, and various professional ensembles and musicians in North America and Europe.  His works are performed throughout North America and Europe, as well as in Asia, South Africa, Australia and South America, and many have been recorded on CD.  His music, essentially tonal and melodic, is characterized by a concern for formal clarity and immediate communication with as vast a public as possible. 

Gerald Harder undertook initial organ study with Richard Unfreid at Biola University in Los Angeles, and graduate study in organ performance and choral conducting at the University of Western Ontario in London. Gerald holds the Associate Diploma of the Royal Canadian College of Organists. He has served churches in Los Angeles, Ottawa, Victoria, and Vancouver as organist and music director.  Since 2000 he has been Organist & Choirmaster at St James' Anglican Church, Vancouver, where he directs a comprehensive program of liturgical music. Gerald sings bass with the Vancouver Cantata Singers, and is active locally as an accompanist.

Vancouverite Isaac Howie has always loved making music.  A student of piano and composition since early childhood, his musical career has included founding a jazz trio, composing and performing for concert bands, publishing electronic music, and winning awards for solo piano.  He entered the University of British Columbia at 15, where he currently studies organ under the mentorship of Professor Michael Dirk.  Alongside his pursuit of a BMus, Isaac is Organist at Holy Family Parish, and he holds an ARCT in piano and studies harpsichord with Alex Weimann.  In 2021, Isaac was division winner of the Vancouver Chamber Choir's Young Composers' Competition.  This year, he has been invited to the semifinals of the RCCO National Organ Competition.  In his spare time, Isaac enjoys building computers and translating Ancient Greek texts.

As one of Vancouver’s more active and versatile organists, Michael Dirk is equally at home offering solo concerts, accompanying the many fine choirs/ensembles of the region, improvising an entertaining accompaniment to a silent film, or serving liturgically in various worship styles. During his BMus program at UBC, he studied organ with Ed Norman and Denis Bédard. Michael then continued as graduate assistant with full scholarship, to the eminent teacher, Clyde Holloway, at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University of Houston, Texas, where he received his Masters degree. Subsequent studies include the Cavaillé-Coll organs of Paris, as well as the Fr Willis organs and Cathedral choir school systems of London.

Michael has performed for national festivals of the Royal Canadian College of Organists for which he serves as Vice-President and Education officer, as well as the Association of Anglican Musicians national conference. Since 2012, Michael has been the Music Director/Organist of St John’s Shaughnessy Anglican Church. He is frequently invited to showcase the Orpheum’s historic Mighty Wurlizter for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, having studied with Robert MacDonald (Radio City Concert Hall NYC) and Charlie Balogh (Organ Stop, Mesa). A sought after clinician, Michael has offered numerous workshops for the RCCO and British Columbia Music Educator Association, as well as articles for Organ Canada Journal. Michael serves as organ instructor for UBC School of Music, and VSO School of Music. 

PJ Janson studied organ performance with Frederick Geoghegan, Suzanne Gibson, and Erich Schwandt.  He received his education at the University of Victoria, and after completing his PhD in musicology he was on the music faculty at Augustana University College (now part of the University of Alberta).  PJ has served as organist at various churches, including St John the Divine Anglican Church, St Aidan’s, and St Matthias (Victoria), and All Saints Church (Christchurch, UK).  He is active as a composer, and he has been assistant organist at St James' Anglican Church since 2015.  PJ is thankful to those who support him in his music endeavours — including his cat, who wakes him up early every morning, reminding him to put in 90 minutes of practice on the organ bench.

Rachel Alflatt has given concerts throughout the province of Quebec, as well as in Ontario, New Brunswick, and British Columbia.  She has also performed with the West Coast Symphony Orchestra, the New Westminster Symphony Orchestra, the Vancouver Philharmonic, and the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra, and has recorded for the CBC’s French network, Radio-Canada FM.  She was organist and music director at Queen’s Avenue United Church in New Westminster from November 2001 until January 2023 and is now minister of music at First Lutheran Church in Vancouver.  She is active as an organ teacher and runs the music publishing company Éditions Cheldar, which she owns with her husband, Denis Bédard.

The Pipe Organ at St James'

In 1938 Casavant Frères of St Hyacinthe, Québec, was awarded the contract for a new 3-manual organ of 1760 pipes.  The organ itself was located in the north transept of the church, formerly the choir gallery, which was lowered to make room for the instrument, with a façade designed by Adrian Gilbert Scott — the same architect who designed St James’ Church building.  Over the years some minor changes were made to meet the musical demands of a living church, including a new Choir division with three ranks in the west gallery in 1948, and a new organ console in 2003.  With the addition of the Choir division, the organ now has 33 ranks, and just under 2000 pipes.  The main organ is located high on the north gallery of the church – an excellent location, as grand sound of this fine Casavant Frères organ is marvellously enhanced by the church's outstanding acoustics.