leaderboard1 -

Cover Feature

September 29, 2020

The Bales Organ Recital Hall and Hellmuth Wolff Opus 40

Organ study at the University of Kansas began in 1875. In 1898 the “Department of Organ Playing and Church Music” was founded. Since that time the organ and church music program at KU has grown to be one of the largest and most active programs in the country. It now boasts twenty-five organ and church music majors studying across a variety of different undergraduate and graduate programs.

A milestone in the history of the program occurred on October 9, 1996, when KU inaugurated the Bales Organ Recital Hall. This beautiful hall, with stained glass designed by Peter Thompson, boasts a 4.5-second acoustic. The centerpiece of the hall is the 45-stop organ built by Hellmuth Wolff. Beginning this month, we will be celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary year of this wonderful organ and hall. 

The twenty-fifth anniversary Alumni Conference and Reunion 

The culminating event in this year of celebration will be a three-day alumni conference held October 7–9, 2021. It will be led by KU organ and church music alumni, along with KU’s William T. Kemper Artist-in-Residence, Olivier Latry. In preparation for this conference and reunion, all KU organ and church music alumni are asked to relay their contact information, a picture, and a short biography to [email protected]


In addition to the Hellmuth Wolff concert instrument, KU has seven practice organs, including organs by Fritts, Juget-Sinclair, Flentrop, Jaeckel (3), and Casavant. All of our instruments are trackers. Students also practice at the 22-stop Andover tracker at the Saint Lawrence Catholic Student Center on campus. The organ and church music academic classes are all taught in a lovely organ studio, which is set up as a conference room with technology appropriate to academic work. 


KU offers the following degrees in the Division of Organ and Church Music:

• BM in organ and church music

• MM in organ

• MM in church music with a concentration in organ 

• MM in church music with a concentration in choral conducting

• MM in carillon

• DMA in organ

• DMA in church music with a concentration in organ 

• DMA in church music with a concentration in choral conducting

• Graduate certificate in organ 

• Graduate certificate in church music

• Graduate certificate in carillon


In the graduate organ curriculum, KU offers courses in:

• Organ literature and design (four-semester sequence)

• Organ building

• Organ pedagogy 

The graduate sequence in church music includes:

• Improvisation (one semester of German Baroque, and one semester of French symphonic; students all receive a private lesson and a class weekly)

• Choral conducting (two-semester sequence)

• The history of church music (three-semester sequence)

• The history of liturgy

• The Judeo-Christian tradition and the arts

• Issues in religion and the arts  

• Children’s choirs

• Handbells

• Liturgical chant

Undergraduate students have a four-year curriculum in organ and a separate four-year curriculum in church music. 

The Bales Chorale

The Bales Chorale is the resident student choral ensemble at the Bales Organ Recital Hall. Its purposes are to sing great choral literature appropriate to the superb acoustics of the Bales Organ Recital Hall and to train graduate church music students in the art of choral conducting. Performances include premieres of new works by students and faculty, and collaborative performances with other regional choral ensembles. 

KU Organ and Church Music Faculty

Michael Bauer, Professor of Organ and Church Music

Michael Bauer teaches organ, church music classes, choral conducting, and harpsichord at KU as well as overseeing the Bales Chorale. He has published the book Arts Ministry: Nurturing the Creative Life of God’s People (Eerdmans) and recorded several CDs, including the Brahms organ works, and a recent dedication CD for the new Juget-Sinclair organ in Fremont, Nebraska. Bauer has directed seven KU European organ study tours and performed throughout Europe and America. In 2020 he was awarded the Ned Fleming Award for Excellence in Teaching at the University of Kansas.

Elizabeth Egbert Berghout, Associate Professor of Music and University Carillonneur 

Elizabeth Egbert Berghout performs carillon recitals at the Lawrence campus each week. Many of her carillon students have passed the rigorous performance and certification exam offered by The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America. Berghout lectures, teaches, and performs throughout North America and overseas. A proponent of new music, Berghout has commissioned and premiered numerous works for carillon and organ. 

James Higdon, Dane and Polly Bales Professor of Organ

James Higdon is Director of the Division of Organ and Church Music at the University of Kansas. He recently released a recording of the complete works of Jehan Alain, performed at KU and on the Alain house organ at Romanmôtier, Switzerland. He has played throughout Europe and America and adjudicated at many international competitions including Chartres, The Canadian International Competition, and the Tariverdiev Competition in Russia. His students have distinguished themselves with a host of accolades, including many Fulbright and Rotary awards as well as winning multiple international competitions. In 1997, he was awarded the W. T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence at KU. 

Olivier Latry: William T. Kemper Artist in Residence

Beginning in 2019, Olivier Latry, one of the world’s most renowned organists, a titulaire organist at Notre Dame Cathedral and Professor of Organ at the Paris Conservatoire, joined the KU faculty as the William T. Kemper Artist in Residence. He is in residence each semester teaching private lessons, group lessons, and masterclasses as well as performing and participating in conferences on different aspects of French organ music. 

Kevin Vogt, Lecturer in Organ and Church Music

Kevin Vogt, is music director for St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Parish in Leawood, Kansas, and lecturer in organ and church music at the University of Kansas, where he teaches organ improvisation and service playing, classes in organbuilding and design, organ literature, liturgical chant, and a seminar on children’s choirs. He served previously as director of music at the Roman Catholic cathedrals of St. Paul, Minnesota, and Omaha, Nebraska.

Extra-Curricular Offerings:


Over the years, KU has presented many conferences on organ and church music. In 2017, KU hosted the AGO National Pedagogy Conference entitled “Organ and Improvisation Study in the French Conservatory System.” In 2019, KU sponsored a conference entitled “Le Grand Siècle: Organ Music and Culture in 17th-and 18th-Century France.” Upcoming conferences will center on the works of specific major French composers with Olivier Latry as the featured artist and teacher. 

KU Students in Europe

From 2002–2016, KU sponsored seven KU European Organ Study Tours. Starting in 2016 KU’s European engagement changed. The university began to help our students attend the biennial Haarlem Organ Festival and Academy in the Netherlands. This evolved into a formal relationship, in which KU became the first academic partner institution with the Haarlem Organ Festival and Academy. 

Tariverdiev International Organ Competition

Beginning in 2011, every other year KU hosts the North American Round of the biennial Tariverdiev International Organ Competition. The winners advance to Kaliningrad, Russia, to compete in the final rounds of the competition. 

Bales Artist Series

Each year KU sponsors guest organists on the Bales Artist Series. Recitalists include university organ faculty and international competition winners. Guest artists play, teach, and lecture while they are at the university. Guest artists have included Guy Bovet, Susan Landale, Kimberly Marshall, Craig Cramer, Lynne Davis, Janette Fishell, Martin Jean, Hans Davidsson, Roberta Gary, John Grew, Jack Mitchener, Catherine Rodland, Robert Bates, Daniel Zaretsky, Carole Terry, Emanuele Cardi, Rachel Laurin, Richard Elliot, Charles Tompkins, and many more. 

The STAR series (Student Artist Recitals)

Each year, KU arranges recitals for our students on significant instruments located in Kansas and surrounding states. Students play group recitals, solo recitals, and split programs involving two players. 

Church Music Colloquium

KU sponsors church music colloquia that engage students in extra-curricular learning led by guest instructors.  

Application and Financial Aid

KU offers graduate teaching assistantships and significant undergraduate and graduate scholarships. Situated in Lawrence, Kansas, close to Kansas City there are many churches that offer employment opportunities to KU organ and church music students. For further information about the organ and church music program at KU, write [email protected] and visit music.ku.edu/organ.

1996 Helmuth Wolff Opus 40


16′ Montre

8′ Montre

8′ Flûte conique

8′ Flûte harmonique

4′ Prestant

4′ Flûte à fuseau

2-2⁄3′ Nazard

2′ Doublette

1-3⁄5′ Tierce

Fourniture VI (5-1⁄3′ engaged with 16′)

8′ Trompette

4′ Clairon

POSITIF (Manual I)

8′ Montre

8′ Bourdon

4′ Prestant

4′ Flûte à cheminée

2′ Doublette

2′ Flûte à fuseau

1-1⁄3′ Larigot 

Sesquialtera II

Fourniture IV

8′ Cromorne



16′ Quintaton

8′ Flûte à cheminée

8′ Viole de gambe

8′ Voix céleste

4′ Prestant

4′ Flûte octaviante

2′ Octavin

Cornet V

Plein-jeu V

16′ Basson

8′ Trompette

8′ Hautbois

4′ Clairon

8′ Voix humaine



32′ Soubasse

16′ Contrebasse

16′ Montre (G.O.)

16′ Soubasse

8′ Octavebasse

8′ Montre (G.O.)

8′ Bourdon

4′ Prestant

Fourniture V

16′ Trombone

8′ Trompette allemande

8′ Trompette (G.O.)

4′ Clarion (G.O.)






Tirasse G.O.

Tirasse Positif

Tirasse Récit



Solid mahogany case

Temperament:  ninth-comma meantone

Mechanical key action (suspended)

Electric stop action

Related Content

March 18, 2024
We are privileged to be celebrating our 50th anniversary and are thankful for the organ work that has been entrusted to the company. This past…
February 20, 2024
Lexington sits at the heart of the Bluegrass country of Kentucky. It has many claims to fame. It is the “Horse Capital of the World,” hands down,…
January 16, 2024
In Midtown Manhattan, at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 54th Street, stands a comparatively humble yet eye-catching edifice. Dwarfed by the…