Sara Tobe’s career began at the young age of 12, serving as director of music at a Catholic parish in Egypt, Ohio, a tight-knit farming community. Throughout her life, each community and mentor continued to inform her musical development.
During her undergraduate degree at Bowling Green State University, her piano professor, Dr. Robert Satterlee, helped her realize that expression in music is infinitely more meaningful than pure technical ability. At the same time, studies on organ with Dr. Vernon Wolcott nurtured her love for early music.
After graduating with a degree in organ performance and taking a cross country trip in a loaded Penske truck to the University of Arizona in Tucson, Sara next completed her master’s degree in organ performance under the direction and with the friendship of Dr. Pamela Decker. Through example and marathon conversations, Dr. Decker gave her the realization that this dream of a career at the organ was possible, along with the confidence to perform increasingly more complex works. It was here that she also found the blessings of both a church community as the director of music at First United Methodist Church of Tucson and the larger support of local organists in her position as sub-dean of the Southern Arizona Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
Adding to this community was her teacher and mentor Dr. Jeffrey Campbell of St. Philip’s in the Hills’ Episcopal Church, who challenged her ability to evoke meaning through her registrations on the organ and provided valuable insight to the Episcopal service. Following a second-place finish in the Strader Organ Competition and a second cross country trip in a big yellow Penske with her shy cat Nola, Sara is back in Ohio studying with Dr. Michael Unger. His observant, nurturing teaching style and similar enthusiasm for early music attracted her to pursue her doctoral program in organ performance at the University of Cincinnati.
Her community here also includes her position as organ scholar at Christ Church Cathedral under the musical direction of Dr. Stephan Casurella, where she just completed her orchestral conducting debut at the annual Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival.