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Yet Another Successful Halloween Concert!

By Michael Molnar

On Friday October 26, the 13th annual RCCO Vancouver Centre Halloween concert took place at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church in downtown Vancouver.


With caretaker Tom Rose controlling the lighting and audio, a large screen in place, lavish food on several tables in the back put together after hours of work by Cindy Leung and her team (Thomas Au, Jenifer and Douglas Airey), and all sorts of spooky decorations ornamenting the area near the organ and console, the scene was set as the audience streamed in. Dani Genossar bravely handled all comers, taking donations and handing out programmes and commemorative booklets on the organ, while Susan Ohannesian concocted the perfect brew (with double bubble toil and trouble) of hot apple cider. Behind the scenes, Sam Balden had spent many hours pondering the best edits for this year’s silent movie: Laurel and Hardy’s Habeus Corpus, so as to trim it to the length needed for the Halloween concert. If there was a category for best editing of a silent film in 2018, he would surely be a contender for an academy award nomination, with Huiyuan Ma the computer-savvy organist responsible for the technical wizardry itself!


Centre president Michael Molnar was the MC, offering seasonal jokes, poems, and facts about superstitions and mythology, while giving performers time to settle into place and double-check their settings.  Rachel Alflatt set the tone of the evening with a grand rendition of Bach’s famous Toccata in D Minor. Her student, Huiyuan Ma carried the D Minor theme further with a lofty Postlude by Bruckner. Beginning the more popular and modern element of the concert, Gail Ovington presented a dynamic compilation of Star Wars themes. To ensure we reached our quota of toccatas, Michael Park next played the famous final movement to Boellmann’s Gothic Suite. Providing striking contrast, John Mitchell followed with the theme made famous by Alfred Hitchcock, the Funeral March of a Marionette by Gounod. Then Angelique Po continued the very French portion of the programme with Gigout’s Toccata (from his gem-filled Ten Pieces). For one last exploration of modern tunes, Michael Dirk delivered a hefty medley of themes from Lloyd-Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. To conclude the segment of pure performances, Darryl Nixon effortlessly conquered the quirky Scherzo by Vierne, and followed it with the mighty Esquisse Byzantine No. 10 by Mulet.

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An intermission followed, during which the audience was treated to a wonderful spread of Halloween themed treats. Then, once all was set up and in place, the evening concluded with Laurel and Hardy’s hilarious silent film Habeas Corpus, accompanied masterfully by Edward Norman.

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With Halloween jokes and group pictures, the evening came to a close, and the audience of about 150 people happily devoured most of the remainder of the abundant goodies.



Seismic upgrades will begin in this venue in the next few months, so this was our last Halloween concert here for at least two years. Organizers Rachel Alflatt and Sam Balden are especially grateful to St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church Director of Music Darryl Nixon, and to the church’s Sacred Music Series, for their support.

New CD: Bedard, works for organ and other instruments

Produced under the auspices of the RCCO Vancouver Centre and thanks to a very generous donation by our Regional Director, Sam Balden, this CD features the organs in four Vancouver area churches, and four local musicians:

Langley Canadian Reformed Church, Holy Rosary Cathedral, Queens Avenue United Church, and Kerrisdale Presbyterian Church.

Denis Bedard (organ), Katherine Evans (trumpet), Julia Nolan (saxophone), Rachel Alflatt (organ duet).
Available at present (at a cost of $20) either by contacting Editions Cheldar (, or from the gift shop at Holy Rosary Cathedral (open after the Masses).  Also available for download on iTunes and at CD Baby:

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Another very successful Halloween Concert!

With an enthusiastic audience of 270 people!  Many thanks to all the participants and volunteers who made this possible, and to St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church and the Church’s Sacred Music Series.



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2017 Halloween Concert!

It’s that time of year again!  After a very successful Halloween concert last year, with an audience of well over 300 people, we are planning our 12th annual event for Friday October 27 at 7:30 pm, at St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church (Burrard and Nelson, Vancouver), in collaboration with the St. Andrew’s-Wesley Sacred Music Series.

And this year there’s a new twist!  We will present the first ever “Frankenstein” movie, a short silent film dating from 1910, accompanied by renowned Vancouver organist Edward Norman, who has delighted audiences for some years now with his inventive and technically stunning silent movie accompaniments.

Of course the audience will also be treated to Halloween themed music, ranging from the famous Bach D minor Toccata to themes from “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Phantom of the Opera”.

For more info, visit the “Upcoming Events” section of this website.


RCCO Vancouver – Annual General Meeting 2017

To all RCCO Members, it is almost time to have our next Annual General Meeting.

This year, we will be having it at St. John’s Shaughnessy, located on Granville at Nanton (near King Edward) on June 10th, at 3:00p.m.

We also have console time and sailing opportunities to look forward to before and after the meeting.

photo 3The sailing trips will be offered as usual on board “Bachus”, and for those interested in sailing before or after, do RSVP to Mr. Dirk to ensure we know who to expect and can accommodate everyone (at
The pre-meeting option will commence at noon from the Burrard Marina (near Bard-on-the-Beach and Vanier Park).
The post-meeting option will be launching at 5:30p.m. from the same location.

organThe console time on St. John’s Shaughnessy’s four-manual Hallmann will take place from 2:30p.m.-3:00p.m. It was the GVRD’s largest organ from 1967-2004, and in February, Rene Marceau of Seattle re-voiced two ranks in the Gallery with tremendous results.
As the church is planning on an interior revitalization project (especially since the organ will be celebrating 50 years next October), input from local organists will be welcome.
Some extra console time for those still interested will be available (time permitting) after the meeting, around 4:30p.m.-5:00p.m.

Parking is available next to the church, and light refreshments will be offered during the meeting and afterwards.
We hope to see many of you there,

Michael Molnar
President: RCCO Vancouver Centre

RCCO 2017 Student Recital



RCCO Student Recital performers and their teachers

The biennial RCCO Student Recital took place very successfully on May 7 at St. Mary’s Kerrisdale. Performers Haruyo Abramson, Michael Blais, Joan Chard, Cindy Ma, Gail Ovington, and Alex and Max Schmidt impressed and moved the audience with works ranging from Buxtehude to Bédard and including Gigout, Sidney Campbell, T Mee Patterson, and J. S. Bach.  In addition to the solo performances, twin brothers Alex and Max Schmidt played duets by Denis Bédard.  The concert was followed by a reception in the parish hall. Many thanks to St. Mary’s organist and long time RCCO member Susan Ohannesian for organizing this event.

2016 RCCO Halloween Concert, a huge success!

By Michael Molnar and Rachel Alflatt

Once again, St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church (the largest Gothic-style church in Vancouver) was filled with skulls, skeletons, and spiders, a giant inflatable ghost, lights and a projector, and performers in costume started double-checking their registrations (the pistons were slightly haunted).
In the half hour leading up to the concert, we ran out of programs twice (running off to print more each time), and shortly after it began, we ran out a third time.  We had far more people than usual (at least 340) and an interview with some of the performers, which was broadcast on CBC Radio One’s Early Edition that morning, was likely the main reason for the unexpectedly high turn-out.

The audience enjoying the Boellmann Toccata

Tamar Genossar began with Bach’s famous Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, followed by Aquarium from Saint-Saëns’ Carnival (performed by new member Michael Park). Then Denis Bédard and Rachel Alflatt filled the building with a movement from Merkel’s grand Sonata for Organ Duet. Our Regional Director and MC Sam Balden was bringing laughter from the audience in between each performer, with interesting stories and jokes about Halloween. The evening continued with Susan Ohannesian doing a haunting Dubois Cortege and the Gigout Toccata. Sam followed this with a dark excerpt from a Requiem and the Funeral March for a Marionette (by Gounod). After this, Michael Dirk (who was also operating the camera) presented Langlais’ Épilogue for Pedal Solo, from the Homage to Frescobaldi, showing people a close-up of the Gleason pedal technique. Haruyo Shikano Abramson next did an arrangement of the Phantom of the Opera. Local president Michael Molnar then offered an arrangement of the Death of Ase (from Grieg’s Peer Gynt) and the spooky Waltz from Rawsthorne’s Dance Suite. The concert concluded with Gail Ovington (who flew in from Kamloops) performing the Boellmann Toccata (from the Suite Gothique).


The performers and some costumed audience members

The reception afterwards was filled with all kinds of goodies, very well put together by a team of helpers led by Cindy Leung (with extra treats bought during the concert by Dani Genossar, due to the size of the audience), and the narthex was packed with concert-goers.

Some of the many Halloween goodies

Many thanks to St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church, Darryl Nixon, the CBC Early Edition, and all those who organized, performed and helped in any way with this event.  It was a huge success and we are already looking forward to next year!

RELFECTIONS: Robert Gordon Batt (1952-2016)



Robert Gordon Batt


By Roy Campbell, with contributions from Marie Cahill, Elizabeth Cahill, and Gerald Batt

I first met Robert when we were both living in Montréal in the late 1970’s. I remember the choir I was singing with at the time, St Mathias’ Westmount, visited St. John the Divine Church in Verdun where Robert was the organist. He was very particular about how a certain Anglican chant was to be sung. Already he had formed a clear understanding of appropriateness in the context of musical style.

Shortly after moving to Vancouver in 1994, I met Robert again, this time through his best friend and lifelong business partner, Marie Cahill. Robert, Marie and I subsequently partnered to create Shaughnessy Heights Music School in 2004 where he taught music theory.

Although born in Newfoundland, Robert grew up in Montréal where he developed his deep love of music, attaining his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from McGill University and a PhD in musicology from the UBC. Although he played clarinet and piano in his youth, in his mid-teens Robert finally discovered the organ and he was hooked for life. His brother Gerry remembers Robert building electronic devices of many kinds when he was young, the best known of these being his audio system, built when he was in high school and which he lovingly used up to the time of his passing. He also spent many happy hours with his family on vacation in Cape Cod, Newfoundland, on Québec farms and in Montréal’s Eastern Townships.

It was during these years at McGill that Robert met some of his lifelong friends; his future wife and business partner Marie and two fraternity friends Rick Chodolak and Rick Phillips. He performed in a number of Montréal churches, including St. Joseph’s Oratory, and in Vancouver at Holy Rosary Cathedral, St Helen’s Anglican and most recently at St. Peter’s Estonian Lutheran Church. Under Prof. John Grew’s guidance, he also performed at the International Bach Festival in Leipzig, Germany in 1976.

I was initially surprised to discover that one of Robert’s other great passions in life was his love of nature and the outdoors. How many musician types, especially ones with PhD’s, does one know who regularly gets outside and hikes – not many, I can assure you. Robert hiked mountains and star gazed across this country from Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park to Vermont’s Green Mountains to British Columbia’s West Coast Trail to Washington State’s Cascade Mountains. Robert and I used to go hiking together every so often. The first time we went hiking, we did the Grouse Grind. He was shocked that I was wearing running shoes instead of proper hiking boots. He spent time explaining why it was important to wear the proper footwear and clothing for serious hiking – and Robert was serious about hiking. If something was worth doing, it was worth doing well was his philosophy. Apart from being able to enjoy the beauty of nature and the obvious health benefits, I believe Robert was drawn to hiking because he saw it as a kind of great equalizer. Even though it attracted people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, the one thing shared by all hikers was the physical act of moving through nature, mostly in silence, and at one’s own pace -not too dissimilar to attending a concert where the shared listening experience of many makes for a more profound experience for each and everyone.

It was Robert who suggested I join Modo, the Vancouver car-sharing organization, then in its infancy. Little did I know that anyone who sponsored a new member would get a $50 discount on their next monthly bill. Once I became a member, Robert chuckled and thanked me for helping him qualify for his $50.

I will remember Robert for how he dressed. His slight build made clothes seem to drape over him. Once he found a style or material he liked, he stuck with it. He was very fond of shirts with button-down collars. When I would ask “where did you get it” he would invariably say L. L. Beane. For those of you who don’t know, this is a well-known discount outdoor clothing store in Freeport, Maine. Robert would order on line, always the same size. He was, without a doubt, their most loyal customer!

Robert was very, very tidy and always took care of his music – it was always properly filed or put into storage. He berated me once about how scruffy my organ shoes were. His shoes, on the other hand, were invariable put back in a special carrying bag and of course, never worn outside. They were pristine in appearance – always.

Robert used to sub for me at weddings and memorial services and I was always grateful to have someone who was the ultimate professional taking my place: on time, well prepared, and extremely knowledgeable about appropriate repertoire and performance styles.

He was a member and volunteer with many organizations; The Royal Canadian College of Organists, the British Columbia Music Teachers’ Association, the Green Mountain Hikers Club of Vermont and the Washington Trails Association. He also arranged music for Pianos Galore, an organization created by the Canadian Vocal and Performing Arts Society that featured as many as eight Steinway pianos on stage at one time with two performers at each piano. Robert’s most memorable contribution was the Toccata from Widor’s Symphony V. It was an instant hit and performers loved playing it.

Robert was a quiet, sincere, genuine person who enjoyed the beauty of nature. He found solace in its serenity and solitude. Robert was all of these things, but the one quality that stood out the most was his understanding, dedication and commitment to early keyboard music. I have no doubt that many of his students who were first introduced to this wondrous music in his classes, wondrous music that still has the amazing power to transform lives over 400 years later, will be forever grateful to Robert for opening up a whole new world for them.

His greatest treasures, however, are found in the lasting friendships he formed over the years and in the satisfaction he gained in passing his love of music to his students. Though he will be sorely missed, his artistry, humility and dedication will have a profound effect on many in the years to come. It is not difficult then to look back upon his life as anything other than a gift. Robert was a man of quiet integrity, a musician of impeccable standards, and a human being of great depth. His passing is a great loss.




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Pictures from our pre and post AGM boat rides, many thanks to executive member Michael Dirk!

9th Annual RCCO Halloween Concert, October 25 2014

Organ Music for All Hallow’s Eve

Saturday 26 October 2014 @ 7:30pm

St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church
A 9th annual offering of the Royal Canadian College of Organists, Vancouver Centre.

Praeludium in f-sharp minor, BuxWV 146                         Dietrich Buxtehude (1637–1707)
Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt, BuxWV 183

Christina Hutten

Scherzo in g minor, Op. 49/2         Marco Enrico Bossi (1861–1925)

David Barry Waterlow

Requiem, Op. 9                Maurice Duruflé (1902–1986)
VII. Lux æterna
IX. In paradisum

Oculus Chamber Choir
Ben Ewert, conductor; David Poon, organist

— HYMN: Let all mortal flesh keep silence —

Trois Esquisses, CH 04       Denis Bédard (b. 1950)
I. Introduction et Toccata

Musica dominicalis (1958)       Petr Eben (1929–2007)
III. Moto ostinato

Michael Dirk

Le banquet céleste          Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992)

Tian Ip

Prélude et Toccata sur «Victimae Paschali Laudes», CH 38    Denis Bédard
Tu es Petra        Henri Mulet (1878–1967)

Michael Molnar

Special thanks to Darryl Nixon and St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church for the use of their
pipe organ and church for this event!

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