Judith Kay Henry Glass

Judy Glass is professor of organ at Southern Adventist University where she has taught since 1975. She has taught numerous organ students who have completed advanced degrees at prestigious schools in the U.S., won awards for study in Europe with its leading organists, and distinguished themselves as performers and teachers.

Judy was born, and raised in Ralls, near Lubbock, Texas, the younger of two daughters of Ellis Walton and Mamie Jo Henry. She started piano lessons at age seven and organ at age eleven and held a paid position as church organist at age fourteen. She recently talked about her schooling and work as a church musician:

I applied for scholarships at three schools in Texas and then chose the University of Texas in Austin. While in school I served as an organist at a nearby First Baptist Church then worked in the music department as an accompanist and coach for the cello teacher.  At one time during those years I was organist at four different churches on the weekends.

Judy completed undergraduate and graduate degrees in organ performance at the University of Texas in Austin, graduating with a B.Mus. in 1963 and an M.Mus. in 1966. While at UT she was elected to membership in Mu Phi Epsilon, national honor society, and Pi Kappa Lambda, national music honor society.

She then attended Texas Technological (Tech) University, where she completed the equivalent of another master’s degree, studying with a student of Anton Heiler, internationally famous Austrian organ performer, composer, and teacher. She also taught theory and piano while at TTU.  

In 1971 Glass traveled to Vienna, where she studied with Heiler at the Vienna Academy of Music until 1973.  She was also a participant in the International Organ Course in Haarlem, Holland, and participated in the North German Organ Academy Summer Course of Harald Vogel for eight years.

When asked recently what teacher had been most influential in her development as an organist, she responded without hesitation, “There’s only one, Anton Heiler.”  She then spoke about her study with him:

You have to realize that when I graduated with my degrees from the University of Texas, I was not convinced that the organ was a musical instrument since you couldn’t fully control the sound of the instrument.  If I had not met and studied with Anton Heiler’s student at Texas Tech, I probably would not have continued as an organist.  The first time I heard him play, I thought, “Oh yeah, there is hope for the organ.”

At that point I decided to seriously study the organ.  When I went to Vienna it was very hard to learn to play a mechanical-action organ correctly because you can control the wind entering the pipes and are not just pushing electrical switches as on the electro-pneumatic organs.  Even though we had had one at the University of Texas, nobody knew how to play it. Anton Heiler was a great musician but he didn’t tell you how to do it; you instead learned simply by watching him play and then figured out how to do it. That is how I learned to teach the playing techniques to my students. 

Glass became a member of the SAU chapter of Pi Kappa Lambda in 1986 and also received recognition as one of the outstanding teachers at SAU in that same year.  Two years later, she was chosen by the university to be recipient of the first Distinguished Service Medallion to be awarded by the school.

Glass has given numerous concerts across the United States and in many of the famous cathedrals of Europe. One of her concerts in Austria was the annual memorial concert for Anton Heiller, on the organ named in his memory.  In 1993 she premiered Horatio Parker's Organ Concerto on the organ in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, Austria, accompanied by the Orchestra of Vienna.  From 1986 to 2010, she performed an organ concerto annually with the Southern Adventist University Orchestra.

Many of Glass’s students during her years at SAU have enjoyed unusual success. In 2004 and 2005, three received Fulbright grants for organ study in Europe. Others have also studied with leading teachers at major universities in both Europe and the U.S. and have earned D.M.A.’s in organ performance, one of these being Elizabeth Harrison, who completed a doctorate at Stanford and taught there. Numerous students hold responsible positions in churches and teach.

For a number of years, Glass was involved in a program at SAU for Elderhostel, a worldwide lifelong learning program for senior citizens, teaching a class about the history of organs and organ music.  She particularly enjoyed the inquisitive nature of the students, who were generally retired professors, doctors, lawyers, and other professionals who were interested in continuing to learn.

In addition to her teaching, she has been the organist at the Collegedale Church on the campus of SAU since 1975 and at the First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, since 1973. During her time at Southern Adventist University one of the most significant organ installations in Seventh-day Adventist schools has been built and installed by John Brombaugh on the campus.  At the time of the installation of the organ in the campus church it was the largest American-made tracker instrument in the United States. An instrument of 108 ranks reminiscent of organs built in the High Baroque, there is nothing comparable to it today in the worldwide SDA church.

In 1986, a week-long dedication of the church organ, named after Anton Heiller, along with a smaller mean-tone tracker, one of three in the U.S., in the Dorothy Ackerman Auditorium located in Wood Hall, new music facility at SAU, attracted worldwide attention. Six internationally famous organists traveled to the campus and performed on the instruments to a cumulative audience of over 8,000. The concerts were recorded and later aired by National Public Radio. The event was viewed by some as the most significant musical event in the history of the school.

At that time Glass raised money to establish The Eugene A. Anderson Organ Concert Series, an endowed fund that underwrites the expense of bringing in world-class organists to perform, teach master classes and private lessons on the university’s organs.

Judy is married to Dwain E. Glass, a businessman. They have two children, a daughter, who is a nurse, and a son, who is an attorney.


Sources: Interview, March 2013; Southern Adventist University website biographies 2004-2012; Southwestern Union Record, 28 August 1971, 14; May 1989, 29 (obituary for Ellis Henry); “Teachers Make the Difference,” Southern Tidings, June 1988; C. Warren Becker, "Organ Dedications at Southern," IAMA Newsletters, Summer 1986, 23-25; printed program for the event; C. Warren Becker, “Such as Handle the Harp and Organ,” IAMA Notes, Winter/Spring 2003; Dan Shultz,” Music at Southern Adventist University,” IAMA Notes, Winter/Spring 2004; Fulbright Grants for SAU students, IAMA Notes, Summer/Autumn 2006, 21.