The Létourneau team is composed of 24 enthusiastic organ builders working on a full-time basis. Having a large and energetic team permits us an enviable degree of specialization and concentration in cabinetmaking, pipe making and above all, voicing. Some of our key personnel are listed below with short biographies:
Dudley Oakes has served as a liaison for over thirty years between the company and hundreds of clients throughout the United States of America. Having purchased the company in November 2019, Dr. Oakes divides his time between the company's workshop in Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec and his home in Winchester, Virginia. He received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan in 1987 and has subsequently held positions as organist or music director at several prestigious churches across the United States. A renowned concert organist and teacher, Dr. Oakes has lectured, recorded, and played recitals throughout North America as well as in Italy, France, Germany, England, and Russia. He is frequently asked to play a dedicatory concert on the company's new instruments.
Andrew Forrest began his organ building career with Létourneau in February 1999, was named Artistic Director in 2008, and was appointed Vice President of the company in 2019. He oversees the company with a focus on individual projects, including meeting with clients, preparing proposals, setting artistic benchmarks, and directing tonal finishing. An organist himself, Mr. Forrest’s interests include the art of pipe scaling, mixture compositions, reed shallots, and other details that go into tone production. He was elected President of the Associated Pipe Organ Builders of America (APOBA) in May 2020. Mr. Forrest holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton University.
Georges Trépanier holds diplomas in administration and international commerce from Montréal’s prestigious HEC business school. After overseeing the company’s accounting for over a decade, he was named General Manager in March 2015. In this role, Mr. Trépanier ably manages the company’s financial affairs as well as relations with the various levels of government. As a boy, he studied piano for seven years which translated into his interest in organ building. Over the years, Mr. Trépanier has participated in several pipe organ installations across the United States and Australia.
Dany Nault began his organ building career at Létourneau casting pipe metal at the age of 18. He rose quickly to the position of chief pipe maker and oversaw the production of hundreds of ranks of pipes over a twelve-year period. Mr. Nault left the company in 2013 to study industrial engineering on a full-time basis and upon completing the program, he was employed as a technician and later, manager in the manufacturing sector. In February 2020, Mr. Nault returned to Létourneau as Director of Production. His responsibilities in this role include overseeing production schedules, enhancing productivity, developing departmental quality improvement plans, and raising safety standards.
François Carrier began at Létourneau in 1989 after training as a cabinetmaker. Over the years, he gained experience throughout the company working as a cabinetmaker, wood finisher, voicing assistant, installer, and wind chest builder, serving as head of this last department for a decade. His interest in design led him to complete several intensive courses in architectural drafting and AutoCAD; he was promoted to the position of Technical Designer in 2008. Working closely with Mr. Demers and Mr. Forrest, Mr. Carrier translates the initial designs for each instrument into completed production drawings to enable construction in our workshops.
Létourneau’s goal with visual proposals is to offer a realistic sense of how an instrument will look once installed. As Artistic Designer, Claude Demers is the creative mind behind each instrument’s visual concept, designing each organ case in AutoCAD and overseeing its transformation into a three-dimensional illustration. He holds a diploma in architecture as well as a certificate in electronics. Mr. Demers is an accomplished wood carver, having sculpted the wood carvings on many of the company’s instruments over the years. He has been with the company since 1988.
Simon Berry is from Bristol, England and earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Warwick where he was Organ Scholar; he subsequently studied orchestral conducting at The Royal College of Music (London). Following a move to San Francisco in 1996, Simon is currently Director of Music and Liturgy at St. Dominic’s Catholic Church where he is responsible for one of the largest music ministries in the Bay Area. His work in a variety of schools and religious institutions on both sides of the Atlantic has given him a passion for promoting the pipe organ’s unique role in both secular and religious life. Simon has been with Létourneau since January of 2014.
Sarah Hawbecker is an active recitalist, full-time church musician and winner of numerous competitions; her performances have been broadcast numerous times on the radio program Pipedreams®. A native of Illinois, Sarah studied at St. Olaf College and later earned the Master of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music. An active member of the American Guild of Organists, Sarah served three terms on the AGO’s National Council and currently serves on the Board of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians. Sarah is Organist and Director of Children’s Music at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Atlanta, Georgia (where she plays Létourneau’s Opus 80) since 1996.
Fernand Létourneau began working in the pipe organ in February 1965 at Casavant Frères, working under the tonal direction of Lawrence Phelps and Gerhard Brunzema. With Brunzema’s encouragement, Mr. Létourneau embarked on a study trip to Europe in 1978 to examine voicing techniques employed in historic pipe organs. In January 1979, he founded his own company in Ste-Rosalie which he subsequently built into one of the most respected organbuilding enterprises in the world. A long-time member of the International Society of Organbuilders and the American Institute for Organbuilders, Mr. Létourneau served as co-president of the joint AIO-ISO convention held in Montréal in 2010. He was awarded the Royal Canadian College of Organists’ Prize of Excellence in 2016.