Organist celebrates half-century of playing

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter

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Although Martha Natiuk, 67, has been playing the organ for 50 years, she still exudes enthusiasm about the instrument. Johann Sebastian Bach's "Toccata and Fugue in D Minor" is her favorite piece to play. "Everyone thinks it's spooky Halloween music, but it's not," she said.

Growing up a missionary kid in Iran, Lebanon and India, she learned to play the organ. At age 17 she got her first paying organ gig at a church. The job helped put her through college. She earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in music education, then a master's degree in organ.

Also an accomplished pianist, she's taught piano lessons for 40 years and currently has 23 students. Natiuk recently produced a CD, "Hymns from the Heart." She finds the time to direct Belle Cantori, a women's chorale ensemble that performs at area churches.

Six years ago, Natiuk and her husband, Robert, moved to Battle Ground to be near their three children and five grandchildren.

She plays the organ at least once a month at Meadow Glade Seventh-day Adventist Church and at Trinity Lutheran Church.

You can hear Natiuk play the organ at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 16 at Trinity Lutheran Church, 309 W. 39th St.