Concert for one

Scott marks special student birthday with organ concert

Kraig Scott, professor of music, performed an organ concert on Nov. 13, 2020, for one of his former organ students, Charlotte Tillman, on the occasion of her 102nd birthday.

In 1993 when Scott returned to teach at Walla Walla University after completing graduate studies at the Eastman School of Music, Tillman, who was in her early 70s at the time, contacted him about taking organ lessons. “She made great progress for the next decade,” said Scott. Her last lesson took place after her 80th birthday.

Tillman’s sister, Betty Sue, was recently looking through some old diaries and discovered just how much Tillman had enjoyed her lessons. To surprise Tillman with a special birthday gift, Betty Sue approached Scott to ask if he would perform a small concert for Tillman’s birthday celebration.

Scott held the 30-minute concert in the University Church for a small gathering who wore masks and remained physically distanced. He played several songs including variations of happy birthday as well as the Slow Movement of the Violin Concerto by Felix Mendelssohn. Scott chose the Mendelssohn piece because it had been one of the last pieces Charlotte learned during her lessons.

“She was both surprised and thrilled that I remembered her working on this piece,” said Scott. “Charlotte looks as great as she did 20 years ago—I have only seen her a few times in the past two decades. And she loved the concert! She is a remarkable woman—still spry and ambulatory, and still mentally as sharp as a 30-year-old. She is amazing.”

Posted Dec. 21, 2020 

Charlotte Tillman sits in a pew at University church, while Kraig Scott stands in the pew behind her.
Charlotte Tillman took 10 years worth of organ lessons from Kraig Scott.