November 2016 TAO Chapter News

Northeast Region

Binghamton, NY August 9, sixteen Binghamton chapter members enjoyed an all-day organ crawl in Albany, NY, thanks to the efforts and planning of hosts Roberta Rowland-Raybold and David Vredenburg of the Eastern New York chapter. The group visited five churches, beginning with Westminster Presbyterian Church. Al Fedak, minister of music and arts, provided opening remarks about the history of the IV/42 1929 E.M. Skinner, and then demonstrated the instrument by playing some of his own published compositions. He then opened the console to the members to play. In 1976, the organ was removed to a private residence and replaced by an electronic organ. Twenty years later, upon the failure of the electronic, the Skinner organ was donated back to the church, and re-installed by Austin Organs, which added a few new ranks. Subsequently, Austin installed a ten-rank antiphonal organ in the rear gallery and updated the original console to include a computerized multiplex switching system and multi-level combination action. At the Cathedral of All Saints (Episcopal), Organ Fellow David Harrison demonstrated the 1904 organ that was rebuilt by Austin in 1925, again in 1956 by Aeolian–Skinner, and yet again in 1974 by Austin. G. Donald Harrison supervised the 1956 rebuild that included installation of a large rear gallery antiphonal organ. Originally built by Möller in 1933, the organ at Trinity United Methodist Church was and remains one of only four orchestral organs designed by Richard O. Whitelegg. In 1976, Möller oversaw renovations and the addition of an antiphonal organ, which included a Trompette en chamade. In 1991 and in 2010, Möller upgraded the console with solid-state relays and 32 levels of memory. The final configuration of the organ consists of 72 ranks over six divisions. Assistant Organist Edward Heffron presented the 1966 III/65 Casavant at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church to the group by playing pieces that showed off various aspects of the organ. The organ and choir loft are situated behind an elaborate reredos designed by H. Lee Hirsche. Adorned with many symbols reminiscent of medieval times, the reredos provides a striking backdrop to the chancel, while not interfering with the sound coming from the organ and choir. At First Lutheran Church, Director of Music and Organist Roberta Rowland-Raybold demonstrated the three-manual Carlson organ before turning over the console to the visitors. When this organ was built, it was determined by the church leaders that they wanted a pipe organ, but no pipes were to be visible. Consequently, the pipe rooms are behind screens in the chancel, while two divisions are in the ceiling (!), speaking through a large square screened cut-out directly over the congregation. All the organs on the crawl were impressive and had personality and impact. As a special treat, ten-year-old Faiz Wareh played a progressive recital, performing one or two pieces at each venue during the crawl.

—John Holt

Syracuse, NY February 17
, seventy school-age students from across central New York participated in a Pedals, Pipes & Pizza event held at Syracuse University, hosted by Annie Laver, university organist and assistant professor.

May 21, an instrument tuning and maintenance workshop was given by Ben Merchant, Ryan Boyle, and Alan Lynch. The workshop, held at Park Central Presbyterian Church, was followed by a luncheon.

June 10, the chapter held its annual meeting and banquet at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. The banquet was followed by a member’s recital, and included the following performers: Deborah Cunningham, Armand DiScenna, Vincent Guarnieri, Chang Lee, Alan Lynch, Joel Morehouse, and Julia Tucker. Music included works by Bach, Fitzsimons, Franck, Hailstork, Harris, Messiaen, and Vierne.

—Deborah Cunningham

Mid-Atlantic Region

Northern New Jersey, The chapter recently traveled to Ocean Grove to learn and hear about the amazing 10,800-pipe Hope-Jones organ in the Great Auditorium. We sat spellbound as resident organist Gordon Turk talked about the history of the organ and then improvised, brilliantly demonstrating the wonderful colors of the expansive specification. The open air, wooden auditorium seats over 6,000 people and has amazing acoustics. The remainder of the crystal clear “Maine-like” day was spent sitting on the beach, walking the boardwalk, viewing Ocean Grove’s famous tent city, and enjoying dinner at Stella Marina Restaurant overlooking the Atlantic. The trip, arranged by chapter member Stewart Holmes, included members from the Metro and Central New Jersey chapters as well. It was a memorable day for members from different chapters to come together.

—Stewart Holmes

Ocean County, NJ, Keith Reilly of Point Pleasant, NJ, has received the first Elsie Madsen Fischer Organ Education Grant. Keith, 13 years old, has been studying the organ on an informal basis for the past year with Sara Hoey, the organist at Pt. Pleasant Presbyterian Church and dean of the chapter. He will use the award to fund formal lessons with Josh Mellon of Toms River. Keith will enter eighth grade at Memorial Middle School in September, where he participates in the school’s band, jazz band, and chorus, in addition to playing both the piano and the organ during church services. A gifted musician, he has also composed an anthem for the children’s choir at the church and an orchestral symphony. The grant is named for the founding dean of the chapter, the late Elsie Madsen Fischer of Toms River. She was dedicated to church music, supported a number of community music organizations, and nurtured the talents of many students. The grant program, established in 2015, honors her memory by providing funds for organ studies that build the skills of church organists.

—Peggy Bendel

Erie, PA April 16, chapter members traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, to view the pipe organ at the home of Eugene Blackstone, noted thoracic and cardiovascular surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. Todd Wilson demonstrated the instrument and Dr. Blackstone discussed the architectural design of the house and the evolution of this remarkable organ. Finished in late 2014, the organ now comprises 137 ranks and over 7,000 pipes, and is inspired by the Aeolian-Skinner tradition. The tonal design, voicing, and finishing were by John Hendriksen, with much of the pipework made by Tom Anderson, both of whom worked for Aeolian-Skinner and represent some of the last living links with that tradition. After the demonstration and discussion, members had time to play the instrument.

—Kathrine Swanson

York, PA May 24, the chapter held its annual student/member recital at Union Lutheran Church. Members Rodney Barnett, Carol Downs Brady, Scott Crowell, Victor Fields (dean), Christine Kates, Jennifer Noel, Cameron Wentz, and student Joseph Patterson performed. The recital featured selections by Buxtehude, Guilmant, and Mendelssohn. A reception followed the program.

—Carolyn L. Smith

Southeast Region

Columbus, GA August 14, the chapter began its new season with an exciting program titled “Dueling Organs.” A capacity audience of 450 enjoyed the 3 pm program presented in Legacy Hall at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, and another 275 people attended the 5 p.m. performance. Guest artist James Cochran was featured at the Jordan Concert Organ (Létourneau Opus 60, 57 stops), and chapter members joined him at a large Allen digital organ, installed just for this event. The two organs “dueled” it out with pieces by Gounod, Boëllmann, Wagner, John Williams, Walton, and Schumann. The second half of the program featured Joseph Golden, professor and university organist at Columbus State’s Schwob School of Music. The Allen was transformed into a theater organ as Golden played arrangements of songs such as “Cabaret” and “Over the Rainbow,” and a medley featuring music of Gershwin. The program ended with Golden accompanying Charlie Chaplin’s silent film The Rink with music he developed specifically for this program. The chapter was very honored to have Dr. Cochran as a guest artist. A resident of Naples, FL, he holds degrees from the Eastman School of Music and is an active recitalist. He is also the founder and director of the Naples Philharmonic Chorus, director of the Naples Philharmonic Youth Chorus, and resident organist of the Naples Philharmonic, as well as director of music at Vanderbilt Presbyterian Church. We often hear about dwindling audiences at organ recitals, but the Columbus area has outstanding attendance at many of its events.

—Barbara Acker-Mills

Northeast Georgia April 16, a roundtable discussion of selected articles and columns from recent issues of TAO was held at the Athens Georgia Stake Center, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A brief business session and breakfast-like refreshments occurred before the discussion. Presenters included Letitia Colglazier (dean), Carol Corina (past dean), Ivan Frazier, and Lalla Tanner.

—Ivan Frazier

Northeast Tennessee/Southwest Virginia May 17, chapter members met at First Presbyterian Church, Bristol, Tenn., for a potluck and concert of pieces presented by the Bristol High School Vikings’ saxophone quartet and clarinet quartet, led by Jennifer Allison.

—Joan Keith

Great Lakes Region

Holland, MI, The chapter’s May meeting was held at Hope College’s Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts to hear Huw Lewis, organ professor and head of the keyboard area, demonstrate the new Casavant organ (III/54). This program, to which other local AGO chapters were invited, drew a large crowd eager to see and hear the new instrument up close. Dr. Lewis gave a thorough demonstration of the individual stops and divisions, and explained and answered questions about the tonal design and layout. Members were invited to try out the instrument after the presentation, enjoying this rare chance to see and play West Michigan’s newest organ. In June, members met at the home of David Moore, a friend of the chapter. In addition to a potluck, members had the opportunity to play David’s rare seven-foot Fazioli grand piano, as well as his four-manual Hauptwerk installation.

—Rhonda Edgington

North Central Region

Central Iowa August 21, members gathered for an end-of-summer garden party at the Urbandale home of Mark Shultz. In addition to enjoying the food and conversation, members were able to see, hear, and play the organ that Mark has built in his home.

—Bev Duffy

Southwest Region

Central Arkansas April 15, a monthly dinner meeting was held at First United Methodist Church in Conway. Betty Cohen, host organist, welcomed members and guests to the church and the dinner. Before and immediately following the dinner, members and guests were invited to view and play the newly installed Nichols & Simpson console in the sanctuary. A brief business session followed dinner. Following the meeting, the group traveled to Greene Chapel at Hendrix College for a performance by Olivier Latry, titular organist of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris. His recital was part of the college’s Harold Thompson Memorial Concert series. To close the evening, a post-recital reception was held at the home of Betty Cohen.

—Betty Cohen

Denver Rocky Mountain, CO August 27, a workshop was held for western Colorado organists entitled “Swell to Great.” Meeting at First Presbyterian Church in Grand Junction and featuring the church’s 20-rank Reuter organ (1928), 25 organists of nine different denominations enjoyed three sessions: “Why Organ?” by John Howard, “Overcoming Performance Anxiety,” by Ellen Bradley, and “Creative Hymn Playing” by Martha Sandford-Heyns. Other events of the day included brief performances by local organists, hymn singing, a luncheon featuring five round-table lunch discussion groups on various issues, a video from APOBA, a “Drop and Swap” music exchange, and an organ crawl and demonstration. All were received enthusiastically. Several guests showed strong interest in joining the Guild, and evaluations indicated that there is great desire for more chapter events in this region.

—John Howard

New Orleans, LA April 11
, the annual members’ and students’ recital was held at the historic Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church. Members participating were Susan Welsh (joined by C. Errol Barron, flute), Tommy Zanca, William R. Memmott, Robert Zanca, Anthony Centanni, and B. Andrew Mills. The two student performers were Charlotte Kimble and David Doyle.

—Tommy Zanca

West Region

Orange County, CA May 14, a members’ recital was held at Laguna Presbyterian Church, Laguna Beach. The performers were Frances Johnston, Henry Doktorski, Charles Raasch, David Lines, and Lois Holdridge. Their playing demonstrated technical prowess, lyrical sensitivity, and rigorous virtuosity on the 24-rank, three-manual Möller. Works of Alain, J.S. Bach, Buxtehude, Duruflé, Litaize, Mouret, Schumann, and George Shearing were played.

—Jennifer Puhl

San Diego, CA June 5, the installation of officers for the upcoming year was held at the Prado Restaurant in Balboa Park. Framed certificates of appreciation and gifts were presented to Jack Lasher in appreciation for his dedicated service as dean (2012–14) as well as his outstanding leadership as 2015 convention coordinator, and to Malou Rogers in appreciation for her dedicated service as dean from 2014 to 2016.

—Leslie Wolf Robb

Southern Nevada July 17, installation of officers for 2016–17 was held at All Saints Episcopal Church, Las Vegas. The Rev. Michael Link led the solemn service that was followed by a convivial reception.

—Dorothy Riess

Seattle, WA August 3,
featured a “Dueling Organists” recital by Ruth Draper and Michelle Horsley presented by Seattle First Baptist Church. The former and present organist of the church played diverse repertoire on both piano and organ in various combinations. Featured on the program were world premieres of the first- and second-place winners of the chapter’s “Bach to the Future” 2015 composition contest. Michelle Horsley played “Mostly Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” by J.S. Bach/Paul Ayres, and Ruth Draper performed her own first-place composition entitled “A Lover’s Farewell: Dido’s Lament Revisited” by Henry Purcell/Draper. Among the 100 attendees was Christopher Glenn (former dean), who conceived and implemented the biennial composition contest.

—David Stinson

Salt Lake City, UT August 27, members and friends of the Salt Lake City and Utah Valley chapters met for an AGO certification workshop in Assembly Hall on Temple Square. Don Cook (AAGO), national councillor for education, planned and presented this workshop with the help of Bonnie Goodliffe (CAGO, AAGO, FAGO), Ryan North (SPC, CAGO, ChM), and Teresa Clawson (CAGO, AAGO). Workshop participants received wonderful instruction in what they need to do and know to pass the AGO exams. Many people came just to improve their sight-reading, transposition, hymn playing, and improvisation skills. Attendees were encouraged to work hard on one of the exams and set a goal to pass it in the future, even if it takes them several attempts. The rewards of exam preparation can only result in overall improvement in musical and technical skills.

—Becky Azera

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