Bill Crowle has played the majestic organ at First Presbyterian Church of Deerfield for two decades, putting notes together to create beautiful melodies and heightening the religious experience for parishioners and guests.
To think that Crowle hit the 20-year mark while also serving as the accompanist at Lakeside Congregation for Reform Judaism in Highland Park, teaching private piano lessons, serving as the staff accompanist for the music department at Vernon Hills High School and composing his own works borders on astounding.
Spending more hours in church each week than some clergy members, Crowle takes it all in stride.
“I am a working musician,” he said, “and the nature of such is much like that of an octopus, having many arms in many things.”
Crowle recently celebrated his 20-year milestone at First Presbyterian with a concert. He also was one of several organists in the North Shore Chapter of the American Guild of Organists performing in the WFMT Bach Organ Project this fall.
Crowle regularly performs solo recitals and concerto performances, as well as accompanying soloists and ensembles. He is also the guy who provides summer music and patriotic tunes when the Deerfield Fourth of July finishes in front of First Presbyterian.
When not performing, Crowle is often composing. He has written works for treble choir, piano, recorders and Orff instruments commissioned by a children’s choir; a soloist piece, commissioned by Lakeside Congregation; “Gloria” for choirs, organ, piano, guitars, bass guitar and percussion, commissioned by First Presbyterian; and a symphonic band overture, commissioned to commemorate Buffalo Grove’s 50th anniversary.
A devoted member of First Presbyterian, Crowle said he does not just perform at Lakeside.
“I find spiritual satisfaction at Lakeside too,” Crowle said. “Add to my list of so-called favorite composers, Max Janowski, a very famous composer of Jewish liturgical music.”
Crowle has performed with the Waukegan Symphony Chorus, Beverly-Morgan Park Community Choir, the New Classic Singers, Buffalo Grove Symphonic Band, and members of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. He has been heard on WFMT radio and seen on WGN-TV.
Crowle normally winds up at First Presbyterian more than anywhere else.
“I am usually at the church more hours in an average week than any of the other specific individual venues,” Crowle said. “Sometimes that will vary, especially when there is a concert at school, that concert week might have me there the most hours.”
No matter where he is, it is a given that Crowle has music stirring inside of him.
Written by The North Shore Weekend contributing writer Kevin Beese