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The Tower Choir, pictured during a 2016 concert at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at Conception Abbey, will return to the basilica for an April 3 concert. (Northwest Missouri State University photos)

The Tower Choir, pictured during a 2016 concert at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at Conception Abbey, will return to the basilica for an April 3 concert. (Northwest Missouri State University photos)

March 24, 2022

Tower Choir to present concert at Conception Abbey

Northwest Missouri State University’s Tower Choir will return to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at Conception Abbey to present a concert on Sunday, April 3.

Dr. Stephen Town

Dr. Stephen Town

The Tower Choir is under the direction of Dr. Stephen Town, a professor of music at Northwest who is retiring this spring after 36 years of service at the University. Organist Dr. Sean Vogt will join them as a guest artist.

The concert, which is free and open to the public, begins at 3 p.m. Conception Abbey is located 17 miles southeast of Maryville.

“To hear music presented in the architectural wonder of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception at Conception Abbey is an extraordinary opportunity,” Town said. “The structure is vast and possesses a long reverberation that enhances the compositional beauty of all pieces.” 

He added, “It is a remarkable opportunity for the choral students to work with an artist of the caliber of Dr. Vogt. Not only is he a splendid organist, with degrees and certificates to underline the musicianship of his playing, but also he is a choral conductor who understands how to collaborate with keyboardists. There is a real possibility that this concert will be long remembered for the beauty of the music, the sensitivity of the singers, and the visual aesthetic of the Basilica.”

The concert program includes Dieterich Buxtehude’s “Praeludium in D,” Charles Wood’s “God Omnipotent Reigneth,” Francis Poulenc’s “Exultate Deo,” Elaine Hagenberg’s “O Love,” Hubert Parry’s “There is an Old Belief,” Herbert Howells’ “My Eyes for Beauty Pine,” Eric Nelson’s “What Does the Lord Require,” David Conte’s “Nunc Dimittis,” Carlyle Sharpe’s “Laudate Nomen” and Dan Loclair’s “The Peace May Be Exchanged.”

About Dr. Sean Vogt

Vogt is director of choral activities at Clayton State University in Morrow, Georgia, as well as conductor of the Spivey Hall Masterworks Chorus in Morrow and director of music at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church in Sandy Springs, Georgia. 

He has performed at national conventions of the Organ Historical Society, the National Collegiate Choral Organization and the American Choral Directors Association as well as solo performances at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta and several other national and international venues. He also collaborates as a keyboardist regionally and nationally with vocalists, choirs and instrumentalists. 

He has a Doctor of Musical Arts in conducting from Michigan State University, Master of Music degrees in choral conducting and organ performance from Southern Methodist University, and a Bachelor of Arts in music from Central College in Pella, Iowa. He also has studied at Haarlem Internationale Zomeracademie voor Organisten in The Netherlands and organ performance at the University of Iowa.

About the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception

Completed in 1891, the basilica is considered one of the wonders of the four-state region and beyond. In 1999, the monastery completed a $9 million restoration of the structure and its historic Beuron murals.

With 2,009 pipes, the basilica organ was designed for Conception Abbey by M. L. Bigelow and Company of American Fork, Utah, and completed in 1997. The wood pipes were constructed by the Bigelow company while the majority of its metal pipes were produced in Zeist, Holland, by the firm of Jacques Stinkens. The largest metal pipe, the 16’ Prestant, is 18.5 feet tall, 10 inches in diameter and weighs nearly 400 pounds. The largest wood pipe is 16 feet tall, 19 inches wide and 22 inches deep. The organ also contains seven large wood pipes recycled from the 1911 Kimball organ that once stood in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, Salt Lake City.

About Tower Choir

Formed decades ago by Ralph E. Hartzell, the Tower Choir is an award-winning choral ensemble, consistently invited to state conferences, including the Missouri Music Educators Association (MMEA) in 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2020 and the Nebraska Music Educators Association (NMEA) in 2011, 2014 and 2017, as well as by the National Collegiate Choral Organization in 2011.

Since the 1999-2000 academic year, under the direction of Town, the ensemble has performed more than 150 concerts for high schools, colleges, universities, churches, institutions and organizations in the states of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas as well as Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Washington, D.C. In addition, the ensemble has given 15 peer-reviewed or invited concerts for learned societies, regional and state conventions, meetings, and symposia.


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215