Dan Werning MCM ’76 has spent a lifetime in service to the church and world. For 10 years he was an LCMS grade school teacher, then served 16 years in the pastoral ministry. Later, he served as director of music of several Episcopal churches and performed thousands of Japanese weddings in Hawaii. Following such a varied career, Werning pondered what to do as he retired.
After his wife Terry passed away in 2018, Werning made the decision to move to Thailand for full retirement. He arrived there permanently in 2020, married his wife Penny (Penyaree) and now lives in Bangkok, where he has begun recording his performances of every piece of organ music he owns—a formidable but enjoyable task, he says.
“I believe organ playing is becoming somewhat of a lost art,” Werning says. He has a deep appreciation for the fine instruction he received from his Lutheran organ teachers—James Engel of Milwaukee, Charles Ore of Seward, NE, and Herb Gotsch of River Forest. “I want to share with the world the results of their work with me, and the wonderful music of the Lutheran church and other great composers,” he adds.
Werning started to record his series, “All My Music!” on YouTube last year at home in Bangkok, using his 4-manual, 67-stop virtual Father Willis Pipe Organ from Hereford Cathedral in England. So far, he has made 800 original recordings of pieces composed or arranged specifically for organ. For the first anniversary of the project, he performed the Vivaldi/Bach “Concerto in A Minor.” Now that Werning has completed one year of videos, he calculates it will take him about nine more years to complete the project. “I practice and record about six to eight hours a day Monday through Friday. But that's what retirement is for, isn't it?” he says.
Werning welcomes his former CUC classmates, current students and anyone who is organ-curious to check out his recordings on his YouTube page. “Get comfortable, close your eyes and enjoy the beauty!” he says. “I’m delighted to help lift your spirits in these difficult days.”