The RRVAGO Chapter Officers, Pipeline Staff, and Archivists
Throughout its history, our chapter officers consist of a dean, sub-dean, secretary, and treasurer. Technology has prompted us to add a social media officer and a webmaster officer. Our activities are chronicled by the editors of our newsletter, Pipeline, and our long, rich history has necessitated adding archivists.
Dillon Swanson, Dean
Dillon J. Swanson is a fourth-year organ performance major at Concordia College where he has studied with Dr. Peggy Johnson and Andrew Steinberg. While at Concordia he has also studied vocal performance and pedagogy with Dr. Holly Janz and Peter Halverson and conducting with Dr. Kevin Sütterlin, Dr. Michael Culloton, and Dr. Kira Haler Knutson.
Currently, Dillon holds the offices of Dean of the Red River Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists (RRVAGO) and President of the Red River Theatre Organ Society (RRTOS). Other recent appointments include Sub-Dean of the RRVAGO and Chairman of the RRVAGO Diamond Anniversary Committee. Dillon also currently produces the annual RRTOS Silent Movie Night and Holiday Pipes Concert Series while serving as a House Organist at the Fargo Theatre.
Dillon has worked in music ministry in a variety of roles and congregations in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota for over a decade. His currently serves as Cantor for Concordia College Campus Ministry and Bethesda Lutheran Church, both in Moorhead, Minnesota. Dillon has also served on the worship staff of the Lutheran Summer Music Academy & Festival (LSM) facilitated by the Lutheran Music Program at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana as Organ Fellow under the mentorship of Chad Fothergill during the 2020 and 2021 seasons.
As an author and composer, Dillon has contributed to the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians (ALCM) journal CrossAccent. Other recent commissions include choral and orchestral hymn settings, and concert pieces for the Red River Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists (2020) and Concordia College Symphonic Band (2021) among other small commission work.
Dillon is also an avid researcher with current interests in the history of the role of cantor, liturgical theology, and the organ and choral music of J. S. Bach. He completed a historical survey of the liturgical use of the organ with musicologist Dr. Annett Richter in the summer of 2020. His most recent research writing project explores the theological statements represented within Bach’s musical rhetoric found in the Clavier-Übung III. In the paper, he argues that the Clavier-Übung III was Bach’s translation of Martin Luther’s Catechisms into the musical vernacular.
Andrew Steinberg, Sub-Dean
Alex Swanson at the "Mighty Wurlitzer" theatre pipe organ at the Fargo Theatre
ALEX SWANSON was raised on a farm near Moorhead, Minnesota, graduated from Moorhead High School, attended Minnesota State University Moorhead and earned a B.A. in Communication Studies, and then attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and earned a B.S. in Mortuary Science.
He was an active member, organist, and historian of the Oak Mound Congregational Church until its closing and has since belonged to North Buffalo Lutheran Church in Kragnes Township, where he serves on the church council, is substitute church organist, and sings in the church choir.
He is also member of the Red River Theatre Organ Society and currently serves as treasurer of that organization, and is also a house organist of the Fargo Theatre on the "Mighty Wurlitzer" theatre pipe organ there.
He has belonged to the Red River Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists since 2017 and has held several offices and served on various committees.
He is employed as a mortician at West Funeral Home in West Fargo, ND.
Dr. Jean M. Hellner, Webmaster
As a musicologist, theorist, pianist, and organist, JEAN HELLNER enjoys performing, studying, and teaching music. She earned a PhD in musicology from the University of North Texas, where she also taught, performed in the new music ensemble, and played the viola da gamba in the early music ensemble. She holds a master's degree in musicology from The Florida State University in Tallahassee, and, as part of her undergraduate education, she studied piano with Rosario Marciano and music history with Friedrich Heller in Vienna, Austria.
Being an active scholar and performer, Jean has given
several papers and lecture recitals locally, nationally,
and internationally. Having a broad range of interests,
her research encompasses a wide variety of topics from
eighteenth-century opera to nineteenth-century symphonic music to the music of
Jean currently studies organ with Peter Nygaard, and she serves as an organist at Peace Lutheran Church in Fargo and as a substitute organist at Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead. In addition to being a member of the RRVAGO and the Society for Eighteenth-Century Music, she is a founding member of the Edvard Grieg Society of the Dakotas and the Community Orchestra Academy.
Dillon Swanson, Pipeline Newsletter Editor
Alex P. Swanson, Pipeline Newsletter Proofreader
Dr. Jean M. Hellner & Alex P. Swanson, Archivists