Here is my story, mostly focusing on music and flying, giving you an idea of my primary interests and how I came to build a pipe organ.
About

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Early years

I grew up in Luverne, a town in Southwest Minnesota. In First grade I started piano with a wonderful teacher, Myrna Norton, our elementary music teacher. I think beginning teachers in any subject can be critical to your future enthusiasm for that area and Myrna got me off to a great start. Throughout school I was active in band and choir, both at church and school. In Junior High, I started taking organ from our church organist, Lorraine Olson, who was recently recognized for 50 years of service at Grace Lutheran. During these years I took trumpet lessons at Augustana College in nearby Sioux Falls, SD. I studied with another great musician/teacher Dr. Harold Krueger, a legend in the area for his influence on future band directors and the Augustana Brass Choir. Later in High School, my organ teacher suggested studying at Augustana since I was already going over once a week for trumpet. For the remainder of High School I studied organ with Dr. Mary Helen Schmidt at Augustana.

College

I went to St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN in 1987 and completed an Organ Performance major with Dr. John Ferguson, graduating in 1991. While at Olaf, I sang in the Viking Chorus as a freshman, the Cantorei(under Ferguson's direction), and two years in the St. Olaf Choir. One of my years in the St. Olaf Choir was the final year under Dr. Kenneth Jennings and my senior year was under the direction of Dr. Anton Armstrong. These three professors(Ferguson, Jennings, Armstrong) had a tremendous influence on me musically.

Post college

I took a part-time position as an organist at Valley of Peace Lutheran in Golden Valley, MN and worked in retail. The next year I decided to continue my church music studies in the Master of Sacred Music at Luther Seminary, St. Paul. This program runs in conjunction with Luther Seminary and St. Olaf so I could continue studies with the faculty I knew. I was now heading towards full-time work in church music. I had always struggled whether music would be a full or part-time endeavor. The one interest I had never pursued was flying. I went to Crystal Airport, a suburb of Minneapolis, in the middle of a blizzard to inquire about flying, got information and signed up for Private Pilot ground school. Little did I know that a blizzard was the perfect time to find the most dedicated flying instructor, because most would'nt bother coming to the airport on a day when they can't do any flying. On April 9, 1993, I took my first flight lesson with instructor Wade Hagen, a mentor, good friend, and Captain at my current airline, Mesaba.

Flying

After the Spring of 1993 I went in a different direction, partially burnt out on music, and left the seminary program to study flying.Piper Cherokee N32099 I do regret not finishing that program and still hope to someday. In the next few years I completed my Private, Instrument, Commercial(Single and Multi-engine) licenses and a few years later my Airline Transport Pilot. I bought a 1975 Piper Cherokee (N32099 in the photo)that I used to build flight time on aerial photography projects for the Dept. of Agriculture. After doing aerial photography, flying a cattle buyer around the Midwest and a year of business charter work I was hired at Mesaba Airlines/Northwest Airlink in January of 2000.

Since 2000, I've been a First Officer(copilot) on the SAAB 340 for Mesaba. In the fall of 2007 I was able to move up to Captain, my current position. Here is a photo of the SAAB cockpit with one of my favorite Captains(who happens to be one of the only other Olaf grads at Mesaba) Cyndi Ricard.Saab cockpit with Cyndi Ricard

 

 

 

I do miss playing the organ other than the occaisional wedding or funeral. My ideal combination of work would be to fly during the week and to play the organ on the weekends. Unfortunately, I have to fly most weekends. I am based out of Minneapolis for Mesaba, but I spend most of my time off back in Luverne.

The organ project started a few years ago when I decided it would be nice to have a practice organ. My professor in college, John Ferguson, had a pipe organ at home, but I thought I would probably end up with an electronic. I became aware of the small pipe organ David James had and the organ building project began. It all started small, but grew, and grew, and grew.

Through my flying benefits I've had some great trips . Here are a few pictures from my travels to London and Paris to hear some of their great organs.

 

Mom and I taken in front of King's college chapel, Cambridge Mom and I outside the famous chapel at King's college, Cambridge, where we heard the boy's choir and organ.
Interior of King's college chapel Inside the King's college chapel, note the incredible fan vaulted ceiling.
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, at night This is a picture I took on a rainy evening in Paris of Notre Dame Cathedral
St. Sulpice, Paris The famous organ of St. Sulpice, Paris. The church was recently famous as part of the "Davinci Code" movie. The organ was played by many well-known organists including Charles-Marie Widor.
console of the organ at St. Sulpice The organ console at St. Sulpice.
Chapel of St. Chapelle, Paris Chapel of St. Chapelle in Paris has some of the oldest stained glass in the world. It is not a large chapel, but has floor to ceiling windows that are stunning.