AGO Southwest Florida Chapter Officers & Board Members
Matthew swingle, Dean
Matthew Swingle is currently the Director of Music & Organist at Faith Lutheran Church in Naples, Florida. He also holds the position of Adjunct Professor of Music at Charleston Southern University, where he has taught Music Theory, Aural Skills and Sight Singing, and Music Appreciation. Mr. Swingle has a Masters of Music Education with a concentration in Educational Research from Bob Jones University, a Bachelor of Music in Music Composition from Carson-Newman College and has presented research on percussion pedagogical and methodological instructional techniques at Bob Jones University. He has been featured as a guest clinician and conductor for honor bands all throughout the southeastern United States and is frequently featured as a guest artist on the organ with professional and honor wind bands including the South Carolina Youth Wind Symphony, the Charleston Wind Symphony, and many others. As a composer and arranger, many concerts and church services have hosted premieres of Mr. Swingle’s compositions and arrangements. In the summer of 2016 and 2018, Mr. Swingle premiered compositions at the World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles International Conference (WASBE) in Prague, Czech Republic and at the Mid-Europe International Wind Band Festival in Schladming, Austria. Mr. Swingle is also an active performer and has presented concerts all throughout the United States, including Carnegie Hall in New York City, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and many more renown concert venues. He has also been on concert tour through Nazareth, Bethlehem, and Jerusalem of Israel, Amman, the capitol city of Jordan, and throughout Italy and Austria. He also teaches private lessons in organ, composition, and conducting throughout Naples. Mr. Swingle also owns an organ maintenance and tuning business which serves the organs and their organists throughout south Florida.
Jonathan Birner, Sub-dean
Jonathan Birner became the organist for all church and chapel services at Grace Lutheran Church in Naples, Florida in January 2000. At Grace Lutheran he serves to direct the adult, youth, children’s, and handbell choirs, teach music in the preschool, and most years, leads a summer music camp. A life-long Lutheran, he began his training at Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas where he studied organ with Dr. Walter Pelz and piano with Lambert Dahlsten. He ultimately finished his studies at Concordia College in Bronxville, New York, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Organ Performance under the tutelage of Dr. Richard Heschke. In addition to his responsibilities at Grace Lutheran, Jonathan is also filling in part-time at Naples Christian Academy, where he teaches music in grades 3-7.
John Fenstermaker, Educational Coordinator
John is the Director of Music and Organist at Trinity by the Cove Episcopal Church. He attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut, majoring in contemporary French literature, and, as a sophomore studied the organ in France with noted organist-scholar André Marchal. After college, he went to the newly-formed College of Church Musicians at the Washington National Cathedral, headed by composer Leo Sowerby. He earned the degree of Master of Sacred Music while teaching music and French at St. Albans School. He was assistant organist at the Washington Cathedral under Paul Callaway for four years, and then traveled to England for a year’s study under Allan Wicks at Canterbury Cathedral. He was appointed organist and choirmaster of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, a post he held for thirty years. He is an Associate of the American Guild of Organists and past dean of the Southwest Florida Chapter, and is a member of the Association of Anglican Musicians. He has been organ soloist under the batons of Carmen Dragon, Arthur Fiedler, Jean-Pascal Tortelier, Edo de Waart and Seiji Ozawa, and has been on the faculty of numerous choral conducting conferences.
David Speir, Treasurer
David Speir has served as Treasurer and Director of The Schubert Club of Fairfield County in Connecticut, a 100+ year old nonprofit organization dedicated to musical performance and education for young musicians, and is honored to help out at the SW Florida Chapter of the AGO as a new Board member. He has been a section leader and soloist in church choirs and community choruses in the New York City tristate area and in Florida, as well as active as an instrumentalist (classical guitar). Mr. Speir has diplomas from the Royal Conservatory of Madrid (Spain) and the Mannes College of Music of New York City Extension Division majoring in Early Music – Lute. He earned an artium baccalaureus degree from Princeton University, a Masters of Business Administration from New York University and holds a CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) charter. Mr. Speir is currently the Regional Manager for Southwest Florida at Central Music. Central Music is the principal Florida dealer for Rodgers, Johannus, and Fratelli Ruffatti organs. Prior to his career at Central Music, Mr. Speir held careers in international and domestic (US) commercial banking, serving in London, Paris, Milan, New York, and Boston.
John Geib, Secretary
John F. Geib was born in Canton, Ohio. He graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in organ performance from Wittenberg University, with his senior year at the Berliner Kirchenmusikschule in Germany. He has worked as a church musician for 55 years, mainly at St. Patrick Catholic Church and St. John Lutheran Church in Wisconsin and at various Epiphany and All Souls Episcopal Churches throughout Florida. When serving as a Music Director he also served as organist and conductor of adult, children, and handbell choirs, along with instrumental ensembles. He has sung baritone in several choral organizations both in Wisconsin and Florida, mostly recently the Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers. For 30 years he has been a master social worker, mostly for the state of Wisconsin. He is married and lives on Pine Island with his wife and two elderly dogs.
BEnjamin ball, registrar & Publicist
Benjamin Ball is the director of worship/music and organist at New Hope Presbyterian Church in Fort Myers, Florida, where he directs a program of all ages through various ensembles. Prior to coming to Fort Myers in 2015, he served churches in Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia. He earned the Master of Music degree in church music (with a dual major emphasis in organ performance and choral conducting) from Shenandoah Conservatory of Music in Winchester, Virginia and the Bachelor of Arts degree in church music (with a dual major emphasis in organ and voice performance, and a minor emphasis in piano performance) from Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, Virginia. While at Shenandoah Conservatory, he also studied opera and composition, and was the recipient of the Cooksey-Parker Excellence in Organ award for graduate students. He has recorded two CDs on the new Allen Organ (pipe-digital combination organ) at New Hope: “Hymns of Triumph” and “He Is Born.”