Dramatis Personæ

 

Trent Buhr
Trent Buhr  •  1997
Trent was born in Iowa, started formal piano lessons at the age of 4, and competed in his first concerto competition at age 13. He received a degree in architecture with a special emphasis in Historical Restoration and Preservation from Iowa State University. During his college studies he studied the carillon and became a member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America. From an early age he was fascinated by pipe organs and was given the opportunity to apprentice with John Brombaugh and Assoc. in Eugene, OR, learning pipe making and voicing. He then rounded out his knowledge by working for Manuel Rosales in Los Angeles for 2 years. He was self-employed, restoring 2 organs and a concert harp, until moving to Chattanooga in 1997. He spent several years in the pipe shop working with all aspects of pipe making. Currently he is responsible for design and execution of case decoration, from pipe shades to wood graining and gilding. He also works on interior details such as placement and winding of those pesky ‘leftover’ pipes. Outside of the shop, the bulk of his time is devoted to renovating an old house and restoration of fine furniture.

 

Russell Draeger
Russell Draeger  •  2013
Russell Draeger is a native of Owatonna, MN. Having done his undergraduate degree in Church Music at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, Russell went on to do his masters degree at the Eastman School of Music with David Higgs. During his time at Eastman, he took part in the restoration of op. 1573 by Hook and Hastings, which now resides in Christ Church Episcopal in downtown Rochester. Following this experience, he now comes to Richards, Fowkes as an apprentice who is spending the year learning about organ building.

 

Bruce Fowkes
Bruce Fowkes  •  1988
Bruce Fowkes is a native of Salt Lake City, UT. He became interested in the organ as a boy after attending a concert at the Mormon Tabernacle. He studied organ with Douglas Bush at Brigham Young University and with James Drake at Utah State University. While studying in Provo he did an apprenticeship with Michael Bigelow & Company. After college he worked in London, England with Matthew Copley where he studied voicing and was able to examine many historic English organs. In 1983 he returned to the U.S. and worked with Michael Bigelow and John Brombaugh & Assoc. where he met and worked with Ralph Richards. Bruce is married to Karla, organist and choirmaster at our Opus 6 in Chattanooga, and has a 20 year old son.

 

Keaton Fowkes
Keaton Fowkes  •  2009
Keaton, son of Bruce and Karla, is is all grown up and works full-time.

 

Brian Miscio
Brian Miscio  •  1998
A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Brian moved to the Chattanooga area at the age of 14. He studied classical guitar under Dr. Mario Abril at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, graduating in 1997 with a Bachelor of Music degree. He began at Richards, Fowkes & Co. in April of 1998 with Opus 7, initially focusing on pre-voicing and cabinetry. Throughout his tenure, he has continued to take on more responsibilities, namely building key systems throughout the organ, such as wind chests and swell boxes, as well as more delicate tasks like pedal boards and inlay. As a trained musician, Brian is grateful for the unique opportunity to channel his musical intuition into both construction and performance. Brian is married to Kara, a pianist and teacher, and the couple have a daughter, Nicolina Rose.

 

Nate Perry
Nate Perry  •  2004
Nate Perry came to Richards, Fowkes & Co. in the spring of 2004 after working for Andover Organ Co. and Barger & Nix. Nate is known as the jack of all trades in the shop AKA ‘monkey’ and does anything that needs to be done. He is primarily an apprentice case builder. Nate’s father works for Andover, and his sister works part time there as well. His older brother Nicholas worked for C.B. Fisk until his death in 2002. He and his wife live out in the ‘sticks’ of Tennessee and they love spending time with their four dogs as well as being active in his church youth group. Above all Nate loves the wood working aspect of organ building and the challenges that it brings. He is excited about learning more about the craft and being more proficient in the future years.

 

Ralph Richards
Ralph Richards  •  1988
Ralph grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. At the age of 15 he started organ lessons with Byron Blackmore, and on the recomendation of Jim Christie, also a student of Blackmore, he studied organ and harpsichord performance with Bill Porter and Lisa Crawford at Oberlin College. While there Ralph became friends with the Brombaugh shop, then located in Germantown, OH. After a short apprenticeship with Brombaugh in Eugene, OR, he and Paul Fritts started their company in Tacoma, WA. After 9 years of work they went separate ways, and Ralph began his partnership with Bruce Fowkes.

 

Patrick Spiesser
Patrick Spiesser  •  1992
Patrick Spiesser is from Alsace in northeastern France. In 1977 he started as an apprentice in a carpentry and cabinet shop (Menuiserie Krieger, Duntzenheim, France). After two years he passed the test and became a journeyman. He spent two years at Alfred Wild, Facteur d’Orgues, in Gottenhouse, France. In 1981 he moved on to Manufacture d’Orgues Koenig in Sarre-Union, France. After two years he passed the journeyman test in organbuilding. From 1990 to 1991 he worked on the design, manufacture and presentation before a jury of organ builders, of his masterpiece: a four stop house organ. In 1993 he finished the last test for his diploma and on October 29th 1993 received the title of master organ builder (Maître Facteur d’Orgues). The ten years at Koenig included many restorations of old organs as well as the building of new instruments and maintenance. In October of 1991 he moved to the USA and started working at Richards, Fowkes & Co. at the end of December. He works in all aspects of the trade.

 

Dean Wilson
Dean Wilson  •  1991
Dean Wilson is originally from Leeds, England where he apprenticed and worked with FJ Rogers for 7 years before joining JW Walker for 4 years becoming pipe shop foreman. In January 1991 he joined Richards, Fowkes & Co. to become head pipe-maker and has been involved in the production of all metal pipes for the company. Dean is active with youth soccer as Director of Coaching of a local association and if he is not on a soccer field then he will probably be on a stool in one of the local bars.

 

Andy Wishart
Andy Wishart  •  2004
Andy is one of our fully qualified pipemakers. Before joining our company in the fall of 2004 he lived in Leeds, England where he worked for FJ Rogers for 20 years. He is trained in all aspects of pipemaking and has gained a worldwide reputation for his work. Andy coaches soccer for Chattanooga FC Academy and is enjoying his new life in the Tennessee Valley. He is proud that his son Callum attends the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee. Callum is now a sophomore and the kicker on the football team.