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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!

Open Position – West Vancouver Presbyterian Church

Is This You?

Inspiring Organist/Pianist /Part-time Choir Director

West Vancouver Presbyterian Church is seeking an enthusiastic Music Director who is comfortable with both traditional and more contemporary hymns and choral music to inspire inter-generational worship.

Location: West Vancouver Presbyterian Church (WVPC) – 2893 Marine Drive, West Vancouver BC.

Starting Date: November 1, 2016

Details:  Website:

– Kawai G2 grand piano and Allen Electric Organ

– Actual playing time of 2-4 hours per week including:

–  1 weekly Sunday service (10:30 a.m.)

–  1 monthly choir practice (currently Thursday evening for approximately 1.5 hrs.)

–  1 monthly half-hour choir practice from 9:30 – 10:00 a.m. prior to our Sunday service.

–  Additional compensation will be paid according to the musician’s need to: organize and select music; meet with the minister; practice during the week; and attend to other matters which might arise. The number of hours will be negotiated according to experience and need.

– The piano and organ are available for practice time during the day (not so much during evening hours).

– Music is not always confined to our hymn book, The Book of Praise. Anthems and other special pieces are often used and are taken from our very substantial music files.

– The musician selects the music for preludes and postludes and for the monthly choir piece(s) according to the scripture and theme of the Sunday service; the minister selects the hymns.

– There may be other times (funerals and weddings) when the musician’s services could be requested; the musician would be paid separately on these occasions.

– The successful applicant should enjoy sharing their gifts of music along with the desire to bring out the best from our small, dedicated choir.

– Salary is dependent upon experience.

- Interested candidates are asked to reply via email to our HR Coordinator,
Kaireen Morgan at:

RCCO Vancouver – Annual General Meeting 2016

Once again, it is time for the Vancouver Centre to gather for our Annual General Meeting. This is where you, our membership, get to help decide what we will do in the coming year. Following the successful pattern we adopted last year, we will meet at a church, this time St. Mary’s Kerrisdale (2490 W 37th Ave) on Sunday, August 21st at 3:00p.m.

St. Mary's Kerrisdale Anglican Church, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada







Pizza and Sushi will be ordered for dinner afterwards, with partial funds covered through the RCCO (as always, bringing a small snack or light dessert item to share is welcome).

For those who missed out on the music sale after the member’s recital, there will be an opportunity to buy some quality music at very low prices.

Member-at-Large Michael Dirk will offer sailing before and after (from ~12:00p.m.-2:30p.m. and ~6:00p.m.-8:30p.m.) for those who want to spend some time on the water. Seats are limited, so confirm with him which times you are available, if interested (

We hope to see many of you there,

Your Vancouver RCCO Executive.

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!

Organ Crawl 2015 – Fraser Valley

We started in White Rock at the Good Shepherd Church (2250 150 St, Surrey, BC V4A 9J3). During the parish’s 1995 construction, a single donor offered a half-million for the commission of the magnum opus (no 20) of BC’s largest organ builder, Adrian Koppejan of Chilliwack. The three manual, 35-stop electric-slider action of neo-classic disposition resides at the front of the church in a capacity acoustic of 1.6 seconds. We enjoyed hearing the clear sounds of this instrument, and seeing the inside of the organ as well.

Our second church was Maranatha Canadian Reformed Church (12300 92 Ave, Surrey, BC V3V 1G3). This organ is a combination of the 1912 Casavant organ, purchased from the Central Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, and the 1961-1967 organ built by Mr. Stanley Haddon for the Canadian Reformed Church of New Westminster. The tonal alterations, rebuilding, and installation were done by the organ builder Kenneth A. Hodgson of White Rock, British Columbia. The power of this instrument was great, and looking down through the pipes high up in the organ loft was exciting. Everyone had a chance to play their favorite piece.

We conclude our trip at the Langley Canadian Reformed Church (21804 52 Avenue, Langley, BC V2Y 1L3). This organ was only installed in 2008 and is the most recent installation of a new Casavant organ in our province. Drawings and pictures of the install were displayed, and at the end of our journey, we enjoyed coffee, soup and buns. The console was moved in the center so that it was ideal to hear the sound.

See the video for an impression….