|CHARLES N. HENDERSON
DIES AT AGE 84
Editor Emeritus of
The American Organist Magazine
NEW YORK CITY The AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS (AGO) is very sad to announce the death of CHARLES N. HENDERSON, Editor Emeritus of The American Organist Magazine. He died peacefully in his sleep at his daughter's home in Bronx, N.Y. on Tuesday, July 24, 2001. A memorial service is planned on August 11 at 11 a.m. at Trinity Church, Solebury, Pa. In lieu of flowers, Mr. Henderson requested that contributions be made to the AGO New Organist Fund, 475 Riverside Dr., Suite 1260, New York, NY 10115.
A native of West Chester, Pa., Charles Newton Henderson graduated cum laude from Bucknell University. He later studied at the Juilliard School of Music in New York, the Fontainbleau School in France, and at Syracuse University, where he earned his master's degree under Arthur Poister. His teachers also included Nadia Boulanger and Ernest White.
From 1939 to 1952, except for a four-year Army stint during World War II, Henderson was organist and choir director at the First Presbyterian Church, and a member of the faculty of Wilkes College, both in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He also conducted the 125-voice Wyoming Valley Oratorio Society and the 75-voice Singers' Guild of Scranton; in 1950 he was named "Young Man of the Year" by the Junior Chamber of Commerce for his outstanding community service. While serving as minister of music at the Church of the Covenant in Erie, Pa., from 1952 to 1955, he conducted the Erie Philharmonic Chorus and the Bach Choir of Erie.
In 1955, he was appointed organist and choirmaster of historic St. George's Church on Stuyvesant Square, New York City, where for 18 years he led a superior program of church music for the parish and for the SRO audiences that attended the special services, which included premieres of contemporary works such as Hovhaness's Magnificat, Beglarian's And All the Hills Echoed, and Pinkham's St. Mark Passion, as well as the traditional repertoire. He built a volunteer choir and choral society of more than 200 singers, previously thought an impossible feat in New York, and performed the oratorio repertoire with specified orchestral accompaniment rather than organ reductions, as had been the custom in most New York churches.
While at St. George's, he was also responsible for the planning and installation of the 1958 Moller organ, designed by Ernest White, which replaced the 1927 Austin instrument. He was also a member of the organ faculty of the Union Theological Seminary School of Sacred Music.
A member of the AGO since 1939, Charles Henderson served as both dean and treasurer of the New York City Chapter. Partly because of a severe hearing loss, which made playing and conducting increasingly difficult, Henderson resigned from St. George's in 1973 to become editor of the Guild journal, then called MUSIC/The AGO and RCCO Magazine.
In his first column for this journal (Sept. 1973), Charles Henderson wrote:
I have always considered our magazine the most effective force to bind our members together. One of the Guild's strengths is that the membership includes organists of all degrees of training and accomplishment. It is important for us to experience a sense of unity, of "belonging," so that we are strengthened in our work. Through reading MUSIC we realize that our colleagues across the country are facing the same problems, the same challenges, that we are.
Charles Henderson retired as editor in May of 1982 and moved to Erwinna, Pa. From 1976 until 1983, he was organist at the First Presbyterian Church in Milford, N.J.
In August of 1992, Charles Henderson became Editor Emeritus of The American Organist and resumed some of his editorial duties by writing the Pipings column and reading the monthly proofs. He continued this work until one week before his death.
Charles Henderson was preceded in death by his wife Jane, who died on February 21, 2000. He is survived by daughters Ann and Sarah, and grandson Dubois Thomas.
The AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS is the national professional association serving the organ and choral music fields. Founded in 1896 as both an educational and service organization, the AGO seeks to set and maintain high musical standards and to promote understanding and appreciation of all aspects of organ and choral music. The mission of the AGO is to promote the organ in its historic and evolving roles, to encourage excellence in the performance of organ and choral music, and to provide a forum for mutual support, inspiration, education, and certification of Guild members. The Guild currently serves more than 20,000 members in 343 local chapters throughout the United States and abroad.
This information is submitted by F. Anthony Thurman, Director of Development and Communications at the National Headquarters of the American Guild of Organists and THE AMERICAN ORGANIST Magazine. For further information, please contact Dr. Thurman by TEL (212) 870-2310, FAX (212) 870-2163 or E-MAIL firstname.lastname@example.org.