Linda Brenneise Wildman Mack
Linda Mack, an organist and librarian, served as Director of the Music Materials Center of the James White Library at Andrews University from 1993 to 2012, when she retired as Professor of Library Science, Emerata. During that time she was also active as a church musician, accompanist and directed the Andrews University Early Music Ensemble.
Linda was born in St. Helena, California, the oldest of three children of Ehud and Verna Renschler Brenneise. From her earliest years, she displayed an interest in and a gift for music. She started piano lessons at age six with Rachel Christman, a very nurturing teacher who fostered a love of music in her student. By age ten she was assisting with music at church in her Primary Sabbath School division and accompanying the choir and soloists in the church services.
William Van Ornam, her organ teacher from age twelve through her years at Mountain View Academy, was another pivotal person in her musical development. Linda found his lessons inspiring and developed a disciplined approach to her study in responding to his expectations. She also played the French horn in the band and served as the accompanist for the choirs at MVA. She took classes at the local high school for two summers so that she would have time to fully pursue her musical interests during the school year at the academy.
After graduating from MVA in 1967, she attended Pacific Union College for a year before transferring to Andrews University in 1968. From the beginning of her music study at AU, Linda was fascinated by and enjoyed working with music resource materials found in the newly established Music Materials Center.
While pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in organ at AU, her interest in research and writing was encouraged by three teachers. Two of these, Hans-Jorgen Holman and C. Warren Becker, required significant writing and research for their classes, and a third teacher, Charles J. Hall, engaged her to assist in preparing materials for a classical radio program.
ln August 1970, Linda married Gordon H. Wildman, a music major who, like her, was involved in establishing WAUS, an FM radio station at the university. After she completed a B.Mus. and an M.Mus. in organ in 1971and 1972, respectively, and he graduated with a B.Mus. in 1972, they continued to work for the next three years at the radio station, and she taught private piano and organ lessons as she had been doing during her student years. She also assisted in teaching organ at AU, filling in for Becker during a summer leave and as an adjunct instructor, while continuing to serve as an organist at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in St. Joseph, Michigan, a position she had held since 1970.
At the end of 1975 they moved to Salt Lake City. She later talked about the reasons for going there and what happened during the next eleven years:
It was Gordon's dream to start a classical radio station, and he thought that Salt Lake City might be a good place to do that. Instead of his starting his own station he worked at KWHO, where they had classical programming on their AM broadcast, and he began to share his vision for an FM broadcast.
I had a half-hour weekly organ program called Te Deum Laudemus. I wrote the program notes and performed music I had recorded on different instruments in the community as well as some I had recorded earlier at Andrews. I had covered a broad repertoire during my study at Andrews and that, along with the fact that we as students were required to know something about the composer and background about the music, helped me research and produce the program.
I also featured newer organs as they were installed in area churches. In Julius Reubke's 150th birth year, l contacted Robert Cundick, chief organist at the Mormon Tabernacle, and he let me record the Sonata on the 94th Psalm on their instrument. The program was broadcast at 12:30 Sunday and was quite popular.
A large energy company bought the station and one of the two owners of that company who had a strong interest in radio thought Gordon's vision was really good and implemented it. Unfortunately, their company was vulnerable and in the 1980s they became victims of a corporate takeover by a company in Oklahoma which sold off the station and ended his job and my program.
We divorced in 1984, and I then spent a year during which I got a job as a paraprofessional at the library at the University of Utah and tried to figure things out. The big question was "Should l pursue music more seriously or am I going to pursue an academic career where I can still do music?” Although encouraged to pursue a doctorate in organ by Del Case at PUC, I made a pragmatic decision to pursue a graduate degree in library science.
In 1986, at the beginning of her last year of work on her master's degree in library science at Brigham Young University, Wildman received a D. Glenn Hilts Scholarship from the Association of Seventh-day Adventist Librarians (ASDAL). She would later serve as president of ASDAL.
In those eleven years in Salt Lake City Wildman taught organ lessons, played as a freelance performer, and served as organist at the SDA church. She also served as organist at the First Baptist Church for ten years and, in her final year in Utah, at the First Presbyterian Church. She was active in the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO), serving as dean of the local chapter, on the executive board, and as chair of several committees.
Following completion of her degree in 1987, Wildman was hired as periodicals librarian at AU. She became full-time director of the Music Materials Center of the James White Library located in Hamel Hall in 1993, a position she held until her retirement in the summer of 2012. Also, in 1993 she married Edward Mack, a medical technologist and widower with two children, David and Laurie.
In her time as librarian she upgraded the music library and became an invaluable resource for the music department. Mack's work as a performer and as an accompanist for soloists in different performance areas over many years gave her knowledge of what music is available and insights about locating it. Additionally, she also provided service as an accompanist for numerous recitals, operas, and performed with the university orchestras as principal keyboardist.
In addition to her work as director of the Music Materials Center, Mack was active in presenting programs of Early Music, assisting Julia Lindsay, Julie Boyd Penner, and other soloists as well as ensembles by playing organ, harpsichord, and recorder. She has also been engaged in several research and writing projects, including preparing a chapter on Adventist hymnody to be published in the Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnody (2013), a multi-volume series. It is available online by special permission of the dictionary editor at the Adventist Digital Library at the AU James White Library. She is presently preparing a biography of Blythe Owen and a related listing of her music.
She also maintains a website where she has posted program notes for over one hundred concerts that she has written since 1991. Often these notes appear in concerts the world over as she receives frequent requests to reprint them for other concerts.
While at AU, Mack continued to be active as a church musician in the communities near AU, serving as organist in primarily Episcopal churches and briefly at the First Congregational Church in St. Joseph. Most of that service was in St. Paul's Episcopal Church in St. Joseph, where she worked with the rector to establish a stronger program and eventually served as Music Director, organist, and choir director. She also occasionally served as an organist at the university church.
She was a founding member of the Twin-Cities (St. Joseph and Benton Harbor) Organ Concert Series, which concluded its tenth season in the spring of 2012. A branch of the southwest Michigan chapter of the AGO, its sole purpose is to present concerts featuring regional organs and programs featuring the organ. As part of the educational outreach of the series, she established a program for elementary school children "Blast from the Past" that introduced music from medieval times through baroque using the AU Early Music Ensemble, organ or harpsichord. By the time she left Michigan, the program had reached over 5,000 Michiana students.
Mack now resides in the Denver, Colorado, area, where Edward works in tech support for the medical lab at Denver Health, a position he has held since earlier this year. She is on the Denver AGO board, is active as a church musician, and continues to do research and writing.
Sources: lnterview, 2012, and conversations with Linda Mack over several years; Mary Finch, "special Program at First Presbyterian Church Will Commemorate Organ's 75th Anniversary," Deseret News, 12 April 1986, 48; The Atlantic Union Gleaner, 25 August 1986, 14 (D.Glenn Hilts Scholarship); personal knowledge.