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Elizabeth (Claar) West combines teaching, church work, and performance in a multifaceted musical career. She is an assistant professor of music at Hope College, where she teaches first-year theory. She also is on the faculty of Cornerstone University, where she teaches organ. Since 2004 she has been the organist at Trinity Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dr. West is passionate about introducing the organ to young people and maintains a private studio of organ and piano students. She performs frequently as a soloist, having given concerts in the United States and Armenia, and as a staff accompanist at Hope College.
Dr. West earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Houghton College in New York and her Master’s and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in organ performance from the University of Michigan. She also received a certificate in music theory pedagogy. Her organ instructors have been James Kibbie, the late Robert Glasgow, Huw Lewis, William Haller, Judy Congdon, and Susan Klotzbach. In addition, she studied harpsichord with Edward Parmentier.
West has directed two highly successful Pipe Organ Encounters at Hope College for the American Guild of Organists. The 2012 Encounter drew 28 high school students and 15 faculty members for the week-long organ study program. For 2013–15, the national AGO has appointed her to the Committee on the New Organist, which oversees all Pipe Organ Encounters. From 2004 until 2009 she was the Dean of the Holland Area AGO chapter, and she maintains a dual membership in the Grand Rapids chapter as well.
Dr. West spent the 2006–7 school year in Armenia, where she immersed herself in Armenian culture and researched Armenian organ music. Additional performance and research interests include the works of Charles-Marie Widor and cross-rhythms and hemiola in organ and harpsichord music.