American Organ Academy

Barry A. Norris

February 24, 2021

John Schwandt first played at East Lake United Methodist Church over ten years ago.  When he wasn’t preparing at the organ, he was working (unsolicited) in the chambers.  Thus began his dual role in our area, his being one of the few people in America who truly excels “on both sides of the console.”  He is the voicer / finisher component of the group of organ builders who convene at various churches nearby several times annually.  John is quick, accurate, and knowledgeable; he is eager to share his skills, has an excellent work ethic, and is a pleasure to be around.  During this decade, Dr. Schwandt also became the “Artist in Residence” at East Lake Church, where he leads in worship a few times each year as conductor, organist, and improvisor.  I’ve seen John in the trenches of intense choral rehearsals and tedious organ chamber work, and also experienced him as he causes us, as senior pastor Rev. Sally Allocca says, “to soar to new heights in worship.”  And shining through it all, his integrity (professional, musical, and personal) consistently offers a standard to which all of us near him would aspire.  I, along with many friends and colleagues, am delighted by the development of the AOA, a concept sorely needed in the organ world.

Barry A. Norris

Organist / Choirmaster, East Lake United Methodist Church

Facilitator, Norris Associates

Birmingham, Alabama