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Margaret Vardell Sandresky   


margaret vardell sandresky

Margaret Vardell Sandresky is an organist, composer, and teacher. She graduated from Salem Academy and Salem College in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with a Bachelor of Music degree, cum laude. Continuing her education at the Eastman School of Music where she earned a Master of Music in Composition, she studied with Howard Hanson and Bernard Rogers, and was an organ pupil of Harold Gleason. She was awarded a Fulbright Grant to the State Institute of Music in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, where she studied organ with Helmut Walcha, harpsichord with Maria Jaeger-Jung, and composition with Kurt Hessenberg.

She has held teaching positions at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the University of Texas at Austin, the North Carolina School of the Arts, and at Salem College. In Winston-Salem, where she has lived for a number of years, she has held the position of organist at the Home Moravian Church, the First Baptist Church, and at Centenary United Methodist Church.

Among her commissions are those funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, the Reynolda House Museum of American Art, and the North Carolina Music Teachers Association.

Her principal research in music theory has explored the interaction of fifteenth century humanism between the music, art and architecture of that period. Her articles have been published in Music Theory Spectrum, Vol.1, in the Journal of Music Theory, Yale University Press (25.1), the The American Liszt Society Journal Vol.X, and The Golden Section in Music, edited by Jean Pierre Condat, Lyons, France, 1988.

She was the co-founder of the annual North Carolina Composers' Symposium and was a delegate to the International Congress of New Music Notation, held in Belgium in 1974, and is a member of the International Alliance for Women in Music.

Her anthems are published by Brodt Music Company and the Paraclete Press. Her complete organ works are published by Wayne Leupold Editions. Her Trio II for Violin, Violincello and Piano is published by the Hildegard Music Press.

Sandresky is a Standards Award winning ASCAP composer. In 1999 the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra premiered her Song of a Nomad Flute, a ten-minute piece for solo flute and orchestra, as part of a festival of new music, and recorded it for release on the Vienna Modern Masters label. Her Organ Mass: L'homme arme, played by Kimberly Marshall, has been recorded on the Loft label.

Sandresky is the fourth generation of professional women musicians in her family.

Contact Information

1244 Arbor Rd. #443
Winston-Salem, NC 27104

Annual Updates




“I successfully reached the age of ninety in April. On the weekend of October 1, Salem College, where I am Professor of Music Emerita, celebrated with a young composers competition, a seminar on Composers in the 21st Century, and a concert of my works in the evening where I was also presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by the governor, the highest award the state can give. It was quite a show, and I am deeply grateful to this excellent old institution, the oldest college for women in continuous operation (1772) in the nation. I am still active and composing.”


Celebrations, for an 18th century pipe organ and chamber orchestra, commissioned and performed by the Winston-Salem Symphony, Robert Moody, conductor, Timothy Olsen, organist; premiered Dec. 2010, in Gray Auditorium in Old Salem, NC, on the restored Tannenberg organ.  Along the Riverbank, Trio #III, one-movement work for piano, violin, and cello; performers Barbara Lister-Sink, piano, Joseph Genualdi, violin, and Evan Richey, cello; premiered Oct. 2011, Fine Arts Center at Salem College in celebration of composers 90th birthday.


Songs of a Nomad Flute, concerto for flute and full orchestra, performed with piano reduction by Debra Reuter-Pivetta, flute, and Barbara Lister-Sink, piano; Salem College, Winston-Salem, NC, Oct. 2011. Dialogues for organ and strings, Kimberly Marshall, organist, with American Bach Soloists, Jeffrey Thomas, conducting; St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, San Francisco, CA, July 2011, on the American Guild of Organists Regional Convention program. Veni creator spiritus, organ toccata, played in numerous placed including Ekaterinburg, Russia, by Andre Lash, May 2011. L’Homme armé Organ Mass for organ solo, by Jack Mitchener at First Presbyterian Church in Danville, KY, Regional American Guild of Organists, June 2011. Bird in a Space, on a painting by Miro, composer’s daughter, Eleonor Sandresky, pianist, Salem College, Winston-Salem, NC, Oct. 2011.


Gentle Mary Laid Her Child, SATB and keyboard, Paraclete Press.



Margaret Sandresky will celebrate her 90th birthday in 2011. Still an active musician, her concert piece for an 18th century organ and chamber orchestra will be premiered December 21st by the Winston-Salem Symphony Orchestra at the Old Salem Visitor's Center with Robert Moody conducting and Timothy Olsen, organist, playing the restored 8th century Tannenberg organ. The title of the work is "Celebrations.”

Sandresky's eighth volume of organ music was published in July, and she was also featured in that month's issue of Our State Magazine.



The composer writes, “At the advanced age of 87, my life has become more sedentary, and I have become interested in writing words other than music. ‘Fulbright Fragments’ about my study in Germany came out in Ars Organi, a German publication, in the fall of 2007; and ‘Mendelssohn’s Sonata lll, A Composer’s View’ appeared in The Diapason, March 2008. I have recently been elected to Who’s Who in America.”


Salem Seasons, a large four-movement work commissioned for organ solo, was introduced in November 2007 by Scott Carpenter, playing the restored 18th century, two-manual Tannenberg Organ in the Old Salem, NC, Visitor Center.


Five Sacred Dances received a performance from organist Donald Armitage and the dance ensemble Moving Liturgy in April 2008, at Augsburg Lutheran Church in Winston-Salem.


Awake, My Heart, SATB and keyboard; Paraclete Press. Seven Japanese Drawings, woodwind quintet; Two Pieces for Oboe and Harpsichord; both by Prairie Dawg Press.


Sevenfold Gifts, includes Variations on ‘Crucifer,’ organist Margaret Kvamme;  Albany label.



Margaret Sandresky reports, “In January 2006 I received the Sam Ragan Award for exemplary service to the Fine Arts. The award is given by St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurenburg, NC every two years in honor of Sam Ragan, North Carolina poet, editor of the Raleigh News and Observer, and holder of the first Fine Arts Cabinet position in the state. I was particularly cited for being co-chairman of the North Carolina Composers Symposium held annually for fifteen years at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC. The Music Ministry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Winston-Salem honored me on the occasion of my eighty-fifth birthday by presenting a festival Evensong consisting entirely of my compositions. The massed choirs were conducted by Director of Music Barbara Beattie. Dr. John E. Mitchener played the organ, and Anita Cirba played trumpet. My organ recital programs for the season will include new organ pieces mentioned below. My new web site is”


The composer introduced Remembrance, for organ solo, at the Kernersville Moravian Church, for which it was a memorial commission.


King of Glory, for unison chorus and keyboard, was performed January 21, 2006, by the St. Andrews Presbyterian College Chorus on the campus in Laurinburg, NC. Organist Burton K. Tidwell presented Mystery of Faith, a 2004 commission from the American Guild of Organists, on March 21 at Westwood United Methodist Church in Los Angeles, CA. Good Shepherd Suite for organ was performed March 31 by Marilyn Keiser, Princeton (NJ) University Chapel. Organist Frank Shelton played Five Sacred Dances on April 30 in Notre Dame Cathedral, in Paris, France; the work was also heard in a preview recital on April 4 at Stone Memorial Chapel, Colorado Springs, CO. Sonata for Viola and Piano was heard in a recital given by Misha Galaganov and John Owings on November 5 at Texas Christian University and again on November 28 at the Fort Worth Museum of Art.


Awake My Soul To Sound His Praise, SATB and keyboard; by Paraclete Press. Alleluia for organ, included in The Organist’s Companion, Vol 28 #3; by Wayne Leupold Editions.


Morning Star Reflections, organist Scott Carpenter on the restored 18th century Tannenberg Organ at Old Salem (NC); Raven Label,OAR-860. What Good News the Angels Bring: An Old Salem Christmas.


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