Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Local Events

Lots of Christmas concerts including:
12/3 – Lessons and Carols with the Trinity College Chapel Singers at 4:00 and 7:00 pm

12/9 – A Christmas Concert by the TrinityCollege Chapel Singers at Christ Church Cathedral, Hartford at 7:00 pm

12/10 – Lessons and Carols at St. John’s Episcopal CHurch, West Hartford at 3:00 pm.

12/10 – Christmas by Candlelight at Church of Christ, Congregational, Newington at 4:00 pm.

12/16 – Lessons and Carols at Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel, Springfield at 7:30 pm
For a full list of events check out our event calendar.

Additionally, the Marjorie Jolidon Fund is now seeking applications for the next ground of grant projects taking place between September 1, 2018 and Auguts 31, 2019. Following a bequest by Marjorie Jolidon (www.hartfordago.org/who-was-marjorie-jolidon), the GHC-AGO established The Marjorie Jolidon Fund to bring new audiences to the pipe organ, and to deepen appreciation of the instrument in the general public. New initiatives are welcome; no project is too small to be considered. We encourage new sponsors and venues to apply for a grant.

Application deadline is March 1, 2018. An application form is posted on the website, along with information about what kind of projects the Fund supports: Grants for Individual Projects | Greater Hartford Chapter

Kansas City 2018

Kansas City 2018

“The Paris of the Plains”
with its many beautiful fountains and boulevards
WELCOMES YOU
to the 2018 AGO National Convention – “Bach, Blues and BBQ”
July 2-6 in Kansas City, Missouri

Geographic center of the 48 states
Reasonable airfare and travel time – “Equally convenient from both coasts!”
Performers, Venues, Organs, Worship Services, Workshop Topics, and Local Attractions are listed at our Convention Website:
www.agokc2018.com
where you can sign up for our newsletter or request more information.

SUPPORT YOUR ORGANIZATION –
PLEASE CONSIDER A CONVENTION DONATION TODAY

  • Donor’s Choice: Any Amount
  • Workshops: $500
  • Newly Commissioned Works: $750 – $5,000
  • $2018 Club and Above
  • (Benefits: Convention Registration & Transportation Package, 2 BBQ Tickets)
  • Concerts: $2,500 – $10,000
  • Worship Services: $2,500 – $10,000

For complete list of underwriting opportunities click here

Make checks payable to “AGO KC 2018”
Mail to: Debbie Winter, Convention Treasurer
PO Box 41523, Kansas City, MO 64171
THANKING YOU IN ADVANCE!
Chloe Stodt, Gifts & Grants Chair

December Deanery

December Deanery

Deanery

By Peter Niedmann

One main element of Christmas is gift-giving. Finding a special gift for someone we care about takes an open mind and heart. I enjoy seeing the response of a person opening a gift even more than receiving a gift myself. There’s a satisfaction that the person feels you really know them.

There is another kind of Christmas gift in a category of its own. This is the gift of Christmas music; pieces that were written decades or even centuries ago that are brought to life every year through performances and recordings. The fondness we have for this music is, of course, tied up in the joy of the season and the nostalgia for the innocence of our youth. Christmas music is full of tenderness and joy—both of which are hard to find in the daily news of a hard and coarse culture.

Everybody’s list of favorite Christmas music will vary slightly among us. But, there are those pieces that virtually every church musician would include: Handel’s Messiah…Britten’s Ceremony of Carols…and the many well-loved carol arrangements of David Willcocks. Between his popular contributions to the Carols for Choirs collections, and his recordings conducting the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, Sir David gave us all many beautiful gifts that we get to open and enjoy, year after year.

I was so fortunate to have known Sir David and worked under him at several choral symposia. He was a humble and joyful man who loved being with people and making music with them. He was a fabulous story-teller, with lots to tell—singing for Elgar as a little boy at Westminster Abbey…conducting new works of Vaughan Williams…and many more. Even with a chorus of amateurs, he worked to make the music as clear and beautiful as it could be. He would spend several minutes tuning a chord, or articulating a section of text with perfect, rhythmically-precise diction.

His great carol arrangements are sung in tens of thousands of churches and concert halls every December. They have become an expected and welcome part of Christmas. And, who doesn’t still get goose bumps when “that chord” sounds in the last verse of O Come, All Ye Faithful?

So, five days after Christmas, remember to say ‘thank you’ and ‘Happy Birthday’ to Sir David Willcocks. He gave all of us some special Christmas gifts.

2018 AGO National Convention

2018 AGO National Convention

“The Paris of the Plains”
with its many beautiful fountains and boulevards
WELCOMES YOU
to the 2018 AGO National Convention – “Bach, Blues and BBQ”
July 2-6 in Kansas City, Missouri

Geographic center of the 48 states
Reasonable airfare and travel time – “Equally convenient from both coasts!”
Performers, Venues, Organs, Worship Services, Workshop Topics, and Local Attractions are listed at our Convention Website:
www.agokc2018.com
where you can sign up for our newsletter or request more information.

SUPPORT YOUR ORGANIZATION –
PLEASE CONSIDER A CONVENTION DONATION TODAY

  • Donor’s Choice: Any Amount
  • Workshops: $500
  • Newly Commissioned Works: $750 – $5,000
  • $2018 Club and Above
  • (Benefits: Convention Registration & Transportation Package, 2 BBQ Tickets)
  • Concerts: $2,500 – $10,000
  • Worship Services: $2,500 – $10,000

For complete list of underwriting opportunities click here

Make checks payable to “AGO KC 2018”
Mail to: Debbie Winter, Convention Treasurer
PO Box 41523, Kansas City, MO 64171
THANKING YOU IN ADVANCE!
Chloe Stodt, Gifts & Grants Chair

November Deanery

November Deanery

Deanery

By Peter Niedmann

As choir directors, we all face the challenge of “keeping it interesting” for our singers. Many of them have been in the group for decades, singing the same anthems year after year. If there aren’t new elements regularly introduced into your program, boredom and lack of growth can take hold. I’ve been leading the same choir for 24 years—several singers with me the whole time. The good thing about that long relationship is that principles and techniques we’ve been working on together are deeply ingrained in the group. The core repertoire is familiar and strong, and can be polished quickly.

The downside of a long tenure is the tendency towards comfort and complacency. Look back at your old planning books; do you see only the same anthems repeated every season? Or, is there a regular infusion of new music? The trick is to find the balance between familiar and new pieces, so the choir isn’t overwhelmed.

Other ways to keep your choir interested:

  • Concerts. Plan a Spring Pops concert with some Broadway and secular songs. If you have strong soloists, give them a chance to shine, too.
  • Guest conductors. Bring in someone you respect to work with your choir for a night. The singers will wake up and work hard for a new person. The guest conductor will bring fresh insights as well as reinforce things you’ve been saying for years.
  •  YouTube. Email your singers exemplary video performances of pieces you’re working on. Give them a high standard to emulate.
  •  Expand the repertoire. Have you ever sung a piece in French? A folk song from Jamaica? A gospel song with keyboard, bass, and drums? Singers love to try new things if the end result is beautiful.

If you keep it interesting for the choir, you keep it interesting for the congregation…and for you!

October Deanery

October Deanery

Deanery

By Peter Niedmann

Ten years ago, Oxford University Press published The Oxford Book of Flexible Anthems. The collection of 65 anthems, edited by composer Alan Bullard, has one purpose: to allow choirs of all types and sizes to be able to sing the anthems. To that end, at the top of the first page of each anthem, the possible voicings are shown. Some are SA(T)B, meaning they can be sung by a 4-part group, but the tenor part can be omitted, and the piece will still work. There are many permutations of voicings, and the director can even adapt beyond the given suggestions, depending on her choral situation.

The quality of the music in the book is high, for the most part. The collection accepts and embraces the reality that many choirs are not able to sing SATB music. We, as choral directors, also need to accept and embrace that reality. The fact that the majority of great choral repertoire over the centuries is SATB doesn’t mean we have to avoid it if our choir doesn’t have a tenor, for example. Maybe a low alto and a baritone can work together to create a “tenor” section. Or maybe the piece we wish to sing works well with no sung tenor part, but an organ part that fills in that missing voice. And books like the Oxford collection also help the situation.

According to the editor at one of my publishers, 2-part mixed (high & low voices) with keyboard is the most popular voicing these days. The sacred choral landscape is not what it was 50 years ago. Fewer people are members of a faith community, and choirs have gotten smaller as well. But great music-making doesn’t always require bountiful, balanced forces. Sometimes, a lot can be done with a little.

We just need to be flexible.

[Since the publication of The Oxford Book of Flexible Anthems, two other collections with the same concept have been released: The Oxford Book of Flexible Carols and The Oxford Book of Easy Flexible Anthems.]

Pipescreams!

Pipescreams!

Pipescreams
Friday, October 27, 7:30pm
St. John’s Episcopal Church, West Hartford

It’s time to pull out all those crazy ideas, scary stops and start preparing for our annual Halloween concert. Come join the line-up of very talented organists who will perform favorites that you wouldn’t hear just anywhere. Then, bask in the din of thunderous boos and hisses! Whether you play or not, do come, and don’t forget your costume for the parade! It is sure to be a ghoulish, spine-tingling and frightfully fun evening for all ages!

If you’re interested in playing, please contact Alan MacMillan at 

For a letter sized flyer you can print and post, click here.

xPipescreams!

Join us on Friday, October 27th at 7:30pm St. John’s Episcopal Church in West Hartford for our annual Pipscreams event! Organists – if you would like to play in Pipescreams, please contact Alan MacMillan at alanmacmillan@sbcglobal.net
Pipescreams 2017

Review of Thomas Ospital Recital

Review of Thomas Ospital Recital

Review of Thomas Ospital Recital

By Alan MacMillan

There has been something of a “moveable feast” for organ music lovers this Fall, featuring most recently the extraordinary gifts of Thomas Ospital, Organiste Titulaire of St. Eustache Church in Paris and organist-in-residence at Maison de la Radio (Radio France Concert Hall).

These gifts were on full display on Friday, October 13 at the console of the Austin organ of Trinity College Chapel, Hartford where Ospital offered a widely varied recital ranging from Bach and Mozart to a freely improvised four movement Symphony. Virtuosity, however, was accompanied by appropriate stylistic restraint. The latter was particularly evident in his performance of the Bach A minor Prelude and Fugue BWV 543, where tasteful moments of rubato were the more effective for a reluctance to “juice” the registration merely for effect. The same could be said for his fine performance of the Trio Sonata No. 2 in c minor.

The Mozart Fantasia in F minor K. 608 is a rarity and its inclusion in the recital a real treat. Originally written for mechanical organ in open score on four staves, a transcription (and not one that is easy to play) was necessary to make it playable by a single performer. This later work of Mozart, clearly revealing his then current passion for Handelian counterpoint, opens with a French overture. The characteristic dotted rhythm opening is followed by a fugue; then a return to the opening idea. A beautifully lyrical Andante follows and a final return of the opening overture figure concludes this marvelous work.

Another rarity on the program was a transcription of the early Debussy piano piece Danse-tarantelle styrienne (1890). Having only heard the piano version over the years, the Thierry Hirsch transcription proved a revelation. Ospital’s use of the myriad colors available on this great instrument was scintillating. As he mentioned in his spoken program notes, one can only wish that Debussy had written expressly for the organ.

The Sicilienne from Fauré’s incidental music for Maurice Maeterlinck’s play Pélleas et Mélisande is well known in transcriptions variously for solo flute, violin and viola with piano in addition to its original orchestral form. On the organ it is perhaps equally pleasing in its lyrical melodic beauty. The performance was most convincing in this regard.

It was pleasing to hear a work by Jehan Alain other than the popular “Litanies,” (although, in a sense, we heard the famous theme of that work embedded in the Duruflé “Prélude et Fugue sur le nom d’Alain” which followed on the program.) Ospital informed us that the “théme” in Alain’s “Variations sur in théme de Clement Jannequin” was not by Jannequin at all, but from an anonymous source. Nonetheless, it’s a captivating work: full of the innovative harmony and clear, spare, meticulous writing characteristic of this composer: unhappily a casualty of WWII at the age of only 29.

To end the program the artist was given a sealed envelope containing three themes upon which he agreed to improvise a four movement symphony. If memory serves, the three themes were “I’ve got rhythm” and “Summertime” by Gershwin and “I could have danced all night” by Loewe. After a few moments thought, Ospital launched into his improvisation. A haunting, mysterious opening perhaps approaching Messiaen in style, gave way to a fast movement of amazing complexity and virtuosity, making a unifying idea from the initial motive from “I’ve got rhythm.” The second movement was a scherzo which took the form of a French Galop with a bit of the flavor of Poulenc. A slow movement and a blazing finale finished an astonishing feat of improvisation; a performance rewarded by an extended standing ovation.

While encores are generally considered out of bounds for concert reviews, I cannot resist mentioning the unidentified piece with which the appreciative audience was rewarded. Very close in style, I thought, to Mendelssohn, and played with such clarity and confidence that I was convinced of its authenticity, I was astonished to find out later that it too, was an improvisation!

October Chapter Events

October Chapter Events

October Chapter Events

Thomas Ospital Recital
Friday, October 13, 7:00 pm
Trinity College Chapel
Free Admission

Titulaire of the grand organ at St Eustache Church in Paris, and newly-appointed Organist in Residence at Maison de la Radio (Radio France Concert Hall), Thomas Ospital is a young artist who has quickly earned a place amongst the world’s finest concert organists. He was awarded First Prize at the 2009 International Competition of Organ in Saragossa, Spain, the Durufle-Prize and the Audience Prize at the 2012 International Chartres Competition, and Second Prize at the 2013 International Xavier Darasse Competition in Toulouse. In May of 2014 he took the Grand Prize Jean Louis Florentz and the Audience Prize at the International Organ Competition of Angers under the direction of the Académie des Beaux-Arts. And most-recently, in November of 2014 he was awarded Second Prize, Audience Prize and the Florentz Prize at the International Chartres Competition. His performances have taken him throughout Europe, Russia and North America.

 

Pipescreams
Friday, October 27, 7:30pm
St. John’s Episcopal Church, West Hartford

It’s time to pull out all those crazy ideas, scary stops and start preparing for our annual Halloween concert. Come join the line-up of very talented organists who will perform favorites that you wouldn’t hear just anywhere. Then, bask in the din of thunderous boos and hisses! Whether you play or not, do come, and don’t forget your costume for the parade! It is sure to be a ghoulish, spine-tingling and frightfully fun evening for all ages!

If you’re interested in playing, please contact Alan MacMillan at