Orgelkids USA Kit is Ready to Launch!

Orgelkids USA Kit is Ready to Launch!

The Greater Hartford Chapter has recently acquired an exciting hands-on tool for inspiring and educating future generations, which will be unveiled at our upcoming October 26th Pipescreams Concert. Orgelkids USA designs each portable kit in order to “entice the public to engage with the King of Instruments by empowering them to build a working pipe organ.” We are assembling a small team who are interested in learning how to take the Orgelkids USA Kit out to a variety of venues. If you are interested in learning how to assemble and demonstrate this small working organ or have ideas about possible venues, please contact Susan Carroll, .

Upcoming Chapter Events!

Upcoming Chapter Events!

October Chapter Events

Choral Music of Will Todd

Saturday, October 6, 10:00 am
St. James’s Episcopal Church
1018 Farmington Ave., West Hartford

Internationally known composer and conductor Will Todd will present an informal lecture and recordings of his choral music. The event is free and should not be missed!

From www.willtodd.co.uk:
English composer Will Todd is well known for his beautiful and exciting music. His work encompasses choral works large and small, opera, musical theatre and orchestral pieces, as well as jazz compositions and chamber works.

His anthem, The Call of Wisdom, was performed at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations with a TV audience of 45 million people. His breakthrough work, Mass in Blue (originally titled Jazz Mass), has been performed hundreds of times all over the world. His arrangement of Amazing Grace was performed at President Obama’s Inauguration Day prayer service in 2013 and as part of the BBC’s Nelson Mandela Thanksgiving Service.

He has collaborated with award winning choirs The Sixteen and Tenebrae, as well as with the BBC Singers, BBC Concert Orchestra, The Halle Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, Opera Holland Park, Welsh National Opera, The Bach Choir, St Martin’s Voices and The Genesis Foundation.

His discography includes best selling choral discs Lux Et Veritas and The Call of Wisdom, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Mass in Blue and Ode to a Nightingale all on the Signum Classic label. His music is regularly broadcast on Classic FM, as well as on BBC Radio 3.

Will Todd’s music is valued for its melodic intensity and harmonic skill, often incorporating jazz colours, and his choral music is much in demand from amateur as well as professional performers.

Recent commissions include a choral piece for the BBC’s Great North Passion, an oratorio for The Bach Choir written with former Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen and a commission for Church of the Presidents, St John’s Lafayette Square, Washington DC. His clarinet concerto recorded by the BBC Concert Orchestra and Emma Johnson was released in 2016. International composer Will Todd is currently working on commissions from U.K., the Netherlands, the U.S. and Canada.

Pipescreams

Friday, October 26, 7:30pm
St. John’s Episcopal Church
679 Farmington Ave., 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!

From 6:30 to 7:30 the chapter’s new OrgelKids pipe organ kit will be demonstrated in the church’s Hubbard Hall.
If you’re interested in playing, please contact Alan MacMillan at 
October Deanery

October Deanery

Deanery

By Peter Niedmann

My wife just painted our kitchen a vibrant light green [Valspar ‘Leaf Bud’]. We love it! The walls had been a sort of muddy tan color for years—a neutral background that didn’t call attention to itself, but didn’t energize the room either. The simple injection of color has totally transformed the way the kitchen looks and feels.

Likewise, when virtuoso organist Joshua Stafford performed at our church last month, my first reaction was to his amazing use of colors. The same organ I play every week sounded very different when Josh played. Several colleagues who have played this organ and were at his recital had the identical response: it sounds like a different instrument in his hands. We all chatted about it after the concert, and think we figured out the mystery. Josh used the stops like a painter uses paints—having the desired color in his mind, and mixing the available paints (pipe ranks) to create that color. At one point, he was playing a melody on the French Horn stop. Except, this organ doesn’t have a French Horn stop! Through artful mixing of tone colors, Maestro Stafford ‘painted’ a French Horn. Principal choruses sounded broader, juicier, warmer. He creatively combines sounds from all divisions to effectively construct a new instrument. Mixtures were used, but sparingly, so their appearance had more power.

In Walter Isaacson’s fascinating biography of Leonardo da Vinci, considerable space is devoted to Leonardo’s self-taught, scientific approach to virtually everything. One important area of his studies was the way light affects color. He spent his whole life observing, and attempting to accurately represent what he saw. What made his art supreme was his ability to paint colors with the added understanding of light’s interaction with the color. Often, much of his canvas was dark, so the colors shown in the light had extra intensity and realism. Leonardo applied paint in many layers when painting human flesh, to simulate the way light hits the skin.

An afternoon at the Philadelphia Museum of Art revealed to me how the appearance of a single color (in, for instance, Monet’s depiction of bodies of water) was, in fact, brush strokes of many colors – all received by the eye at a distance as one. I got as close to the paintings as the guard would allow (2 feet, in fact) and microscopically scanned the canvasses to confirm this technique over and over again.

I know what you’re thinking: go into the organ’s memory to find out what Joshua Stafford actually did to create all those beautiful colors in his performance! I already have. And, it’s not as illuminating as one would think. It all makes sense when you dissect it. Perhaps, much of the magic of his recital was having the colors offered up so artistically, while the listener received them with open hearts. The analytical portion of our brains was disabled by beauty. The power of great art rendered by a great artist.

“The poet ranks far below the painter in the representation of visible things, 
and far below the musician in that of invisible things.” 
– Leonardo da Vinci

Next Chapter Event – PipeScreams!

Next Chapter Event – PipeScreams!

Next Chapter Event – Pipescreams!

Friday, October 26, 7:30pm
St. John’s Episcopal Church
679 Farmington Ave., 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!

From 6:30 to 7:30 the chapter’s new OrgelKids pipe organ kit will be demonstrated in the church’s Hubbard Hall.
If you’re interested in playing, please contact Alan MacMillan at 

Review of 2018 National Convention

Review of 2018 National Convention

Review of 2018 National Convention

By Michelle Horsley

During the first week of July, the sunny city of Kansas City, Missouri, was filled with organists coming together to meet, sing, listen, and be inspired by great music. If it were possible to describe, for example, the sound of a symphony hall filled with 1,300+ organists singing hymns together, I would try to find the words. But the experience of the 2018 Convention of the American Guild of Organists was, at least for myself, singular. It was a time of music-making, camaraderie, and artistic/ministerial exploration which brought together minds and music in a glorious jambalaya of hymn festivals, organ recitals, masterclasses, seminars, workshops, reading sessions, organ crawls, and a maze of convention exhibits. The churches and concert halls of Kansas City offered noteworthy instruments that roared under the hands of recitalists Douglas Cleveland, Vincent Dubois, James Higdon, Christopher Houlihan, Chelsea Chen, Diane Belcher, Todd Wilson, Nicole Keller, Jennifer Pascual, Hector Olivera, Marie Rubis Bauer, and Damin Spritzer. The events were plentiful and varied, often featuring some of Kansas City’s own prominent choral ensembles – Cardinalis, KC Vitas, Kantorei, Kansas City Chorale Te Deum – whose singing made grown men and women weep. I was particularly inspired by the Spire Chamber and Baroque Ensembles (under Maestro Ben Spalding) in a performance of Bach motets that was so crisp and excitable, even the church pews themselves seemed to breathe. Another personal highlight was the closing hymn festival The Peaceable Kingdom, a lovechild of the marvelous James Bobb, Tom Trenney, and Anton Armstrong. It was an extremely thoughtfully-prepared program which opened our hearts to the cries of refugee populations around the world, stretching our imaginations of how hymnody can be offered in new ways to uplift this diverse and challenged 21st century world. Every performance I attended was of addictively high quality that I was left continually asking myself, among other questions, “How can I limit my basic food/sleep needs today so that I can squeeze in just *one* more of these events before I collapse?” Isimply had to take it all in. Soli Deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Todd Wilson Recital at Community of Christ Temple (Independence, MO) Richards, Fowkes & Co., Op. 22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closing Ceremony with Thierry Escaich and Kimberly Marshall at Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, (Kansas City, MO) Casavant Freres Op. 3675

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TeDeum Choral Ensemble and Ben Sheen at Village Presbyterian Church (Prairie Village, KS) Casavant Freres Op. 3700

 

September Deanery

September Deanery

Deanery

By Peter Niedmann

One thing I love about summer—along with the beach, corn on the cob, steak on the grill, etc.—is the opportunity to see other church musicians in action. Conferences, conventions, and vacation travel are always fun and illuminating because of the chance for exposure to colleagues and their work.

In July, I went to an RSCM boy choir course at Groton School in Massachusetts. A couple dozen trebles from New England and beyond joined choir directors/organists for a music-packed week, led by Walden Moore (Trinity Church, New Haven). Each day ended with an Evensong or Eucharist, and the final day was spent singing two services at Trinity Church, Boston. Singing under Walden Moore was intense and rewarding. He wastes no time in rehearsal— discouraging questions that break the work flow until the end of the session. He spent considerable time just talking to the boys about responsibility and leadership and self-discipline. The final results at the services in Boston showed the week’s work yielded beautiful, thoughtful singing. [Chichester Psalms – Bernstein; Hear My Words, Ye People – Parry; Gloucester Service – Howells; and much more]. Top-shelf organ accompaniment on two outstanding Aeolian-Skinner instruments by Jeremy Bruns added greatly to the experience. (His improvisation, morphing out of the Bernstein, into the Doxology was inspired!)

In August, I spent a week in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire at The Chorus of Westerly (RI) children’s camp. Led by their excellent music director, Andrew Howell, the boys and girls of this unique community chorus worked hard on pieces for their upcoming season. Carmina Burana was the main focus, with quite a bit of time spent on the pronunciation of the various languages Orff set to music. The kids had no trouble navigating through the work. Andrew Howell systematically broke each movement into very small, digestible chunks to learn and rehearse. Only when that section was solid would he move on to the next bit. He also maintains a very high energy in rehearsal, never allowing the chance for boredom or fatigue to creep into the work. [The Westerly chorus will join 2 other choruses and the New Haven Symphony to perform the piece at Woolsey Hall in November.] The kids also worked on Beethoven’s 9th for another upcoming concert. Conveniently, in the group was a German exchange student! She slowly read the text for the singers to hear authentic and accurate pronunciation.

In addition to watching Moore and Howell, I also saw other fine church musicians conduct and play in shorter sessions at these two events: George Kent (Christ Church, Westerly, RI); Andrew Sheranian (All Saints, Ashmont, MA); Colin Lynch & Richard Webster (Trinity Church, Boston); Joshua Stafford (St. Peter’s, Morristown, NJ).

And, to cap off the summer, I heard the new C.B. Fisk organ (Op. 150) at Christ Church, Philadelphia in a service, played with finesse and vitality by organist Parker Kitterman. He played the delightful Ad Wammes piece, Miroir, for the prelude, which had people in the pews tapping their toes! And the Fisk, of course, is a beauty to behold and hear.

We church musicians can easily feel a sense of isolation in our work. It’s so important to get out and see what other folks are doing. We are not alone!

Members’ Roundtable

Members’ Roundtable

Member’s Roundtable:

This month’s question: What is a brief organ piece you play and love, that you think others may not know about?

Eugenia Sullivan – I like to use Woodworks for Organ by Dale Wood Sacred Music Press for “handy dandy” short service pieces based on hymn tunes. They are accessible, not requiring lots of prep time. There are several volumes. Book 3 has a nice “Simple Gifts” and a “St. Columba” arrangement I play often.

Alan MacMillan – Marcel Dupre transcribed, on commission, his 15 Antiphons for “Vespers of Our Lady” op. 18 from a set of improvisations he’d played at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris for the Feast of the Assumption in 1919. The third antiphon, “Nigra sum” is particularly beautiful but not difficult and suitable for a two manual instrument. The music is in public domain in the U.S. and available on IMSLP.org. You may need to search the site under the French “Vepres du commun des Fetes de la Vierge” to get it to come up. It is also included in Rollin Smith’s Adagios for Organ collection as well as a Masters Music Publication of the whole op. 18 set, if you prefer a bound copy. I like to play this antiphon both as a prelude and during Communion.

John Parsons – One of my favorites is a piece called “Andantino” by Henry F Dunham (who was a Hartford organist). It was published in Vox Organi, assembled and edited by Dudley Buck. It is available on IMSLP.org.

Sue Hertel – I like to use “Priere” found in Vingt-quatre Pieces pour Harmonium ou Orgueby Jean Langlais. My copy of many years was published in the U.S. by Elkan-Vogel in Philadelphia.

Natalia Ulyanovsky – 1) “Shenandoah” by Christopher Tambling from Celtic Organ Preludes, Copyright 1966 Kevin Mayhew Ltd.
2) “Blow your trumpet, Gabriel” from Preludes and Paraphrases, new organ music by Neely Bruce; part of CONVERGENCE: Some Parades for Charlie’s Dad
3) Suite für Eine Mechanical Orgel, Adagio by L.V.Beethoven, Hinrichsen Edition No. 1438
4) Toccata prima a guattro by Giovanni Maria Trabaci (1575-1647). Faber Early Organ Series, Faber Music

Vaughn Mauren – “Fidelis” from Four Extemporizations by Percy Whitlock
The Complete Shorter Organ Music – Oxford University Press

Michelle Horsley – I recently played Mary Beth Bennett’s “Partita on Veni Creator Spiritus.” It’s a wonderful set of short variations, ending with a toccata. During the season of Pentecost, I find that it’s a wonderful way of showcasing an organ’s tonal variety. It’s published by Augsburg Fortress and I don’t believe it’s very well known.

Nathan Lively – “Bible Poems” by Jaromir Weinberger
http://michaelsmusicservice.com/music/Weinberger.BiblePoems.html

June Deanery

June Deanery

June Deanery

By Peter Niedmann

“Summertime, an’ the livin’ is easy…”

There’s no denying the shift from school year to summer is happily welcomed by church musicians. The weekly schedule of rehearsals and meetings is gone; leaving time for all kinds of other endeavors. Vacation is the biggest gift of summer. Getting away completely from work tasks, or even thinking about work, is a restorative joy. [Sometimes, forgetting about work while on vacation isn’t easy: Last summer, my wife and I were vacationing on Block Island. One afternoon I did a double-take. While relaxing on the porch of our inn, Benjamin Straley (Washington National Cathedral organist) sauntered past us in shorts and flip-flops with a bucket of ice!]

Having good substitute organists helps make the vacation more relaxing. Unfortunately, it seems they’ve become more difficult to find. (Check our sub list on the chapter website for available musicians.) John Parsons, who subs for me, has a good line: “I’ll make sure they are happy to have you return!”

While at work in the summer, it’s the perfect time to learn new organ repertoire (see ‘Member’s Roundtable’ in this issue for fresh ideas). It’s also the time to plan choir music for the upcoming season. I always make a list of things we haven’t sung, but should, as well as things we’ve sung but not for some time. And, if you don’t have Liturgical Music for the Revised Common Lectionary by Carl P. Daw, Jr. and Thomas Pavlechko (Church Publishing), get it. It’s an excellent resource for programming anthems and hymns.

I hope you have a relaxing, fun-filled summer. Savor every minute!

2018 Annual Chapter Dinner and Meeting

2018 Annual Chapter Dinner and Meeting

2018 Annual Chapter Dinner and Meeting

By Meg Smith

The Greater Hartford Chapter of the AGO met at the Pond House Café at Elizabeth Park on Tuesday, May 22nd, for its annual dinner and meeting. A bar offered drinks starting at 6:30. The food was delicious. (This reviewer heard an observation that no dish was entirely vegetarian; a consideration for another time.)

Once the meeting portion started, Dean Peter Niedmann kept the agenda moving. His own remarks involved honoring various members’ contributions. Mark Child is stepping down as Registrar, and Joan Pritchard is retiring after multiple years as Ed Clark’s helpmate on our Newsletter. The new slate of officers was approved: Dean: Peter Niedmann; Sub-Dean: Vaughn Mauren; Treasurer: John Coghill; Secretary: Noah Smith; Registrar: John Parsons. Members-at-Large: Alan MacMillan (ending 2019) Susan Carroll (ending 2020), and Scott Lamlein (ending 2021). Ed Clark continues as Newsletter editor; Ally Barone serves as our webmaster, and Kari Miller Magg keeps the job postings current. I believe Ms. Barone also maintains our substitute list.

Last year’s annual meeting minutes were presented by secretary Noah Smith and approved without changes.

John Coghill’s report as Treasurer reminded us of the Jolidon Fund bequest and the many projects and contributions we have been able to undertake through that gift. His proposed budget was accepted and passed. He will step down at the end of 2019, so we will need to find a member willing to volunteer as Treasurer starting next year. Fortunately, the Chapter’s CPA, Anne Harney, has been knowledgeable and enormously helpful in keeping track of Chapter income and expenses. Also present at the dinner were David and Adam Mangs, who manage our investment of the Jolidon fund principal and can advise how much of the interest can be offered in grants. David Mangs reassured us later in the meeting of how the oversight of the Jolidon fund is being managed, and its potential for growth. We have Natasha Ulyanovsky to thank for discovering the Mangs.

The program for 2018-2019 was presented by Vaughn Mauren, whose invitation to next season’s events was interesting and inspiring. That program also appeared on the back cover of a directory listing for our chapter that is offered in print (with a list of our Officers inside the front cover and our Deans inside the back cover). General approval suggests to me that I am not the only one glad to have a “hard copy” of this information. Peter also made sure to invite anyone who has trouble opening our Newsletter from our web-site to ask him or another member of the Executive Committee for assistance; we want every member to be able to access news and upcoming events announcements.

Cheryl Duerr, our regional representative from AGO national, spoke to larger AGO events such as this year’s annual convention in Kansas City, next year’s regional convention in Buffalo, and upcoming POEs, including one at Cape Cod. (Christopher Houlihan alerted us that one of our POE students from 2017’s program has enrolled at Trinity with an interest in the music program there!) Ms. Duerr praised our Chapter for our liveliness, the activity we maintain, and our willingness to support and share with Chapters throughout our area.

Peter led us in applause thanking the staff of the Pond House Café, and the meeting concluded shortly before 9:00.

Not only did this dinner and meeting offer us significant information on the good health of our Chapter and our plans for the upcoming year, there were great opportunities for connecting with friends and colleagues. Consider coming next year (Tuesday, May 21, 2019)!

Zelek Recital Review

Zelek Recital Review

Zelek Recital Review

By Alan MacMillan

Inviting young artists who are still pursuing advanced studies but already establishing concert careers to give recitals here in Hartford was an idea put into action in 2017. Last month’s recital by Greg Zelek at St. James’s, West Hartford has hopefully made that idea into a tradition; one that provides a window into the future of virtuoso organ playing in the United States. A wonderful view it is, if this recital and the young artists’ recital of last year are anything to go by.

Zelek is an artist’s diploma candidate at Julliard and his concert, punctuated with his own breezy commentary, offered a program of standard repertoire along with lighter transcriptions. The recital also gave the substantial audience a first listen to the re-built Austin organ at St. James’s (minus a few stops still awaiting installation.) The missing stops were no problem for the recitalist who explored the organ’s tonal changes and possibilities with a deft and masterful technique in a concert played entirely by memory.

The Mendelssohn f minor Sonata opened the program and was balanced in gravitasby the final work, Guilmant’s Sonata No. 1 in d minor. Sandwiched in between were two transcriptions, one by Zelek himself, Debussy’s “Claire de Lune” and another by organist Nigel Potts, Liszt’s “Liebestraum No. 3.” Between the transcriptions we heard a brilliant rendition of the Bach a minor Prelude and Fugue, BWV 543, a work well represented of late in programs in the area, but always a welcome inclusion. Following the Liszt, John Weaver’s substantial and colorful Fantasia revealed another facet of Zelek’s virtuosity while representing music of our own time.

The Mendelssohn provided the perfect vehicle for registral contrasts: the opening hybrid sonata cum chorale prelude a case in point. I particularly enjoyed the Adagio, a kind of “Song without Words” where melody had the preeminence and was the more effective with Zelek’s ever changing solo registration.

The Guilmant sonata provided a bracing close to the recital. From its thundering French overture opening, to the spare fugue disguised as a piping shepherds’ pastorale, to the racing figuration of the finale, this powerful work brought an appreciative audience to its feet. The ovation was rewarded by an encore: the artist’s own transcription of Ernesto Lacuona’s “Malagueña” played with all the requisite feeling for the style.