Dr. John Schwandt has been a trusted colleague, mentor, and friend for almost 30 years. He is one of the most brilliant and creative organists of his generation, and his newest adventure (The American Organ Academy) is just one of the examples of his dedication to the organ field. The idea of combining a curriculum of organ technique, organ performance, organ building, and organ improvisation/theater organ outside of the college community is an incredibly daring and exciting program and will provide educational opportunities for students and scholars of all ages.
I have experienced Dr. Schwandt’s versatility and incredible talent in several different ways. I taught at DePauw University in Greencastle Indiana for 30 years and during that tenure we invited Dr. Schwandt to perform on three different occasions. All three performances were part of our Performing Arts Series – events which are reserved for major artists, like the Kronos Quartet. On all three occasions he accompanied silent films: Phantom of the Opera, Nosferatu, and Metropolis. His concerts drew huge crowds in an era when organ crowds might be 25-75 people. And the DPU community continued to ask when he would return again. Also, while he was at DPU performing, he gave a master class to my organ students. As a pedagogue, his teaching is insightful, creative, inspirational, and fun. My students loved him.
I was so impressed with Dr. Schwandt and his creative process, that I studied silent film improvisation with him during my final sabbatical . It was my favorite sabbatical project in 30 years of tenure. I learned so much about the improvisation process and Dr. Schwandt helped me rediscover joy in performing music.
Dr Carla Edwards
Professor Emeritus DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana