October 25th


Paula Foley Tillen (born 1958) has been a professional musician in the Milwaukee area for the past 30 years. Paula is director of music at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Waukesha, and also musical director for the Musical Mainstage series at Sunset Playhouse, Elm Grove. She has acted as music director for many metropolitan area theatre companies, and is both a performer and a workshop teacher at Milwaukee ComedySportz.

Paula’s compositions and arrangements have been performed throughout the US and Canada, and can be found in the catalogues of several publishers. In 2018, Wauwatosa Presbyterian Church commissioned Paula to compose a choir anthem to honor the service of retiring music director Martha Stoner. The resulting piece, “O Wisdom,” combined a traditional Latin text with a contemporary poem by Malcolm Guite.


Ethel Smyth (1858-1944) was born in England, and received much of her formal music education in Germany. She wrote numerous choral works, concertos for string and wind instruments, and compositions for piano. In 1903, her opera, “Der Wald,” was the first work composed by a woman that was performed by the Metropolitan Opera. (The Met next performed another work by a woman more than a century later, in 2016.)

Ms. Smyth was active in the women’s suffrage movement, and served two months in a British prison for inciting violence in the campaign to win the vote. While in prison, she composed “The March of the Women,“ which became the anthem of the movement. In her later years, Ms. Smyth was a prolific author, publishing 10 highly successful books.


Marilyn Biery (born 1959) is an organist, conductor, composer and hymn writer. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Minnesota. She has served as director of music for churches in several Midwestern cities, and has taught at Wayne State University in Detroit. Marilyn has a particular interest in encouraging the performance of new American organ music, and has performed and/or premiered many new works for organ. Her husband, James Biery, also composes, and the two have collaborated on many pieces for church choir.

Today’s postlude, “O Spirit of Life,” is based on O Heiliger Geist, a tune published in a German hymnal in 1623. The same hymnal is the source for another well-known tune, Lasst Uns Erfreuen. WPC’s Glory to God hymnal pairs that tune with the text, “All Creatures of Our God and King.”