Instructors

Ames Area

Miriam Zach, Ph.D. is a musicologist, author, organist, harpsichordist, Iowa native, and since 2016 the Charles and Mary Sukup Endowed Artist in Organ at Iowa State University, and Director of Music/Organist at St. John’s By the Campus Episcopal Church in Ames, Iowa stjohns-ames.org She can be heard on National Public Radio recorded in Princeton University Chapel. After completing degrees at Northwestern University and University of Chicago she taught music in Germany at the Universität Bielefeld, and served as organist for the Church of England. In 1990 she studied Olivier Messiaen’s organ music in Paris, and has performed most of his organ works in Europe and the United States. For 20 years (1996-2016) she taught music history, and Honors music and health at the University of Florida. She is past Dean of the Gainesville, Florida Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and University of Florida Professor of the Year 2000-2001. She continues to research architecture and music, teach music and health, organize annual international festivals of women composers (iwclib.org), and enjoy playing Baroque chamber music (alachuaconsort.com). ​

Mark Kretsinger-Harries is Director of Music and Worship at Bethesda Lutheran Church in Ames. He earned a bachelor's degree in Organ Performance and a master's degree in Church Music, both from the University of Kansas where he studied organ with James Higdon and Michael Bauer and choral conducting with Paul Tucker. Mark grew up in Kansas but spent several years in State College, PA where he was dean of the State College chapter of the AGO, served several churches, and founded the Aestas community choir. Mark's interest include organ building, historical performance practice, and church arts ministry, and he is an active composer, arranger, and recitalist.

Des Moines Area

Michael Elsbernd is Director of Worship and Music at St. John’s Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Des Moines, Iowa, where he conducts the Cathedral Choir, String Scholars, and serves as principal organist. He is also a member of the adjunct faculty of Grand View University, where he teaches organ. A graduate of Luther College, Elsbernd earned a Master of Music Degree from Westminster Choir College of Rider University and completed his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree at the University of Michigan. He was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda (National Music Honor Society) in 1999 and was awarded a grant from the Theodore Presser Foundation in 2001, upon the recommendation of the Faculty Council for Graduate Studies at the University of Michigan. The Presser Foundation grant funded Elsbernd’s dissertation project on the music of Jan Adam Reincken. His principal teachers include William Kuhlman, Eugene Roan, James Kibbie, and Marilyn Mason. Additional studies were completed with Harald Vogel at the North German Organ Academy.

Elsbernd has served terms as Repertoire and Standards Chair for the South Dakota ACDA, District Convener and Chapter Dean for the South Dakota Chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO), and is currently the Repertoire and Resources Chair for Iowa Choral Directors Association (ICDA). He has made concert appearances with Boston Brass, Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir, Michigan Sinfonietta Orchestra, and the choirs of South Dakota State University. He has three hymn-based compositions published by Alliance Publications, Inc. Elsbernd resides in Waukee, Iowa, with his wife, Nichole Colsch, and their two children, Ethan and Abigail.

Zach Hastings, a native of Ankeny, IA, currently serves as Director of Music at Pacific Hills Lutheran Church (LCMS) in Omaha, NE. He as previously served as Director of Worship and Music at Bethlehem Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Bayport, MN; Director of Worship and Music at St. Stephen Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Urbandale, IA; and several other churches in central Iowa. He is a graduate of Iowa State University, with a Bachelor of Arts in Music. During his time at Iowa State University, he served as President and Secretary of the Music Student Representative Council. His principal teachers include Dr. Miriam Zach, Ruth Harris, Ahreum Han Congdon, and Dr. Tin-Shi Tam. In addition to serving on the Central Iowa AGO Executive Committee, Hastings is also serving on the American Guild of Organists Young Organists (AGOYO) National Board. He currently works for Principal Financial Group in Des Moines while also pursuing Pre-Health studies at Iowa State University and Northwestern Health Sciences University, with aspirations to attend medical school.