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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Lieba Schwalbe Rocks The Rafters With Her Musical Talent
by Ken Luchterhand - Hocak Worak

On a rare occasion, someone comes along who is so gifted musically, it seems like that person can play any instrument and do so with grace.

Lieba Schwalbe can be considered a musical prodigy, having the ability to sing and play many musical instruments.

Lieba performed her repertoire at a spring organ concert on Sunday, March 18, at First Presbyterian Church in La Crosse. The church features a pipe organ, which sounds so much more majestic and deeper resonance.

Lieba, 16, is a sophomore at Logan High School in La Crosse. She is a member of the select choir and of an SATB acapella vocal group called Fermata Nowhere. She also runs on the school cross-country team.

Lieba is the daughter of Daniel Green and Laura Schwalbe.

The Coulee Region Group of the American Organist Guild (AOG) sponsored the event.

Lieba played "Prelude in Classic Style," Trumpet Voluntary," "Song of Peace," "Toccata in G Major," and "Galleries Ancien." One of her songs, "Roulade for Pedals," involved playing the entire song with only the foot pedals, no keys involved.

She also played, "For the Beauty of the Earth," accompanied by trumpet player Ezekiel Wettstein, and the entire audience sang along.

"It went well," Lieba said. "I never performed in front of an audience like this before. It was fun, I'd do it again."

Sue Walby, her organ teacher, said she has had many students, but Lieba has been exceptional. Walby has been providing organ lessons since Lieba was 12. She was extremely proud of Lieba's performance on Sunday.

"She was so composed - she's very committed. She doesn't blow her own horn – very humble," Walby said. "She has a lot of talent. She is amazing and so hard working."

While piano can be very difficult to learn, playing the organ is exponentially more difficult because it involves five to six keyboard instead of one, and the floor pedals, Walby said.

Lieba attributes her talent to play to lots of practice, work, but fun work. She receives her organ lessons after church services each Sunday, plus piano lessons during the week.

She loves music in general.

"Music is a spiritual experience. That's what drew me in," Lieba said.

Her mother, Laura, said that Lieba is a very independent young lady.

"In first grade, she begged me to let her take piano lessons. I thought she was kidding, but she was serious. She took her lessons very seriously, and still does to this day," Laura said.

Her talent extends to all forms of music. Besides her abilities to play organ and piano, she sings and plays the dulcimer and the guitar.

"I started teaching her piano when she was 7, at the end of her first grade," said Deanna Lee, her piano teacher. "Everything I gave her to practice, she did. She never balked and she always did it. She's very ambitious. She still attends lessons every Monday night and she's still growing as a musician."

Lieba uses her musical talent to entertain her listeners, but she recently has found a humorous way to earn a couple dollars.

"Her brother paid her to sing and play the guitar for a demo recording of a song he wrote," Laura said.

This summer she will attend the 2018 Pipe Organ Encounter at St. Olaf College/ Shattuck School, sponsored by the Twin Cities AGO Chapter.

She has played the pipe organ for six years and has traveled to many other states to attend organ workshops that she has gotten scholarships to attend. She is also vocally talented and will soon compete at the state competition.

Lieba wants to pursue a career in music, but since she is a sophomore, she has a few years to go before having to make the decision where to attend college.

"She plans to study music performance. We'll see if she wins at state for vocals and she may receive a scholarship," her father said.

Not only is she talented in all aspects of music, she also is excellent in the classroom. She has top-notch grades at Logan High School.

"Academically, she's on top," her father said.

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