In May of 2013, St. Matthias' Church installed and dedicated of The Susan B. Smith Memorial Organ. This great instrument is something in which our parish takes great pride, and which has enriched our worship, and will for many generations to come.
This marvelous treasure comes to us as a gift through the magnanimous bequest of Susan B. Smith. Sue was a wonderfully audacious member of our parish and the Lakeland community, a supporter of the arts, and a pursuer of knowledge. A number of years ago, Sue happened to visit the Jaeckel workshop in Duluth with a group of us who had attended a concert in that city. At the time, Jaeckel's Opus 45, now at Emory University, was being built, and Sue took delight in the artistry and complexity of operation we saw unfolding. Little did any of us realize that a few years later we would be dedicating an instrument from that very shop to Sue's memory. She too was a visionary, who saw God not just in the safe confines of religion, but in all beauty and music, in knowledge and skill, and in art and nature. With this magnificent organ, we continue feel something of her spirit in the years to come.
We have been incredibly blessed by builder, Daniel Jaeckel. Not only an organ designer, maker, engineer, craftsman, and musician, he is also a true visionary. His work manifests his immense knowledge of and love for the pipe organ, and the central place which it has long had and will continue to have in the liturgy of the church. All of us who had the opportunity to interact with Dan and his crew, during installation, have come to realize what a wonderful treasure we have, not only in this instrument, but in knowing such skilled and dedicated craftsmen.
This organ, designed solely for this space and congregation, is much more than a musical instrument. It is a symbol of who we are, as we praise God, share the love of Christ, and rejoice in the beauty of sound and art though which the Holy Spirit speaks to us of the Glory of God.
Organ technical information here.
St. Matthias' is well-known for its rich and varied musical offerings. We are blessed with many talented musicians. We were joined by our organist and choir director, George Ackerman-Behr, in January 2017. We are so grateful for George's service to our church through his rich music.
George Behr was born and raised in a German family in Freeport New York, Long Island. His mother Margarete was a nurse and his father Henry Behr, a chef. They immigrated to America in 1949 to seek a better life.
George had a fondness for the pipe organ at an early age. He studied organ building under the direction a curator, at St. John the Divine Episcopal Church, in Manhattan during the 80s. George went to Germany to study as an apprentice in an organ building firm, they decided after a year that he was too old and so he came back to the states and studied organ performance at Manhattan school of music. After discovering that a life dedicated only to organ performance was not for him he ventured to Westminster Choir College in Princeton New Jersey and subsequently received a Bachelor of Church Music. Following completion of his bachelor’s degree, briefly attended Luther Seminary in St. Paul Minnesota then finished at St. John’s University School, of Theology and Seminary, in Collegeville, Minnesota receiving a masters with in Liturgical Music.
In 2015 George and his partner of 16 years, Glen Ackerman, were able to be married when the marriage bill was passed. In the same year they moved to Michigan, where Glen’s family resides after living in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada for seven years. Their three children, Eric, Gabbi, and Heidi, have decided to stay in Canada where they have established lives for themselves as young adults. George and Glen Ackerman-Behr, currently reside in Ironwood, Michigan, where Glen works as the director of operations at Burton Industries. George teaches at Gogebic Community College as an adjunct professor of music history, substitute teaches in the surrounding area schools, and is happy to return to his vocation in Liturgical Music as the music director at St. Matthias’.