Crawling Through New York

Crawling Through New York

-by Ron Coons

On the morning of January 19, Martin Luther King
Day, some 40 organ enthusiasts gathered at St. Mark the Evangelist Church in West Hartford for coffee and donuts prior to setting off on an organ crawl to hear and play instruments at three churches in New York City: the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Grace Church in Lower Manhattan, and St. Bartholomew’s on Park Avenue. After we had had an opportunity to meet up with old friends and make new ones, Treasurer John Coghill, our master of ceremonies for the day, gently summoned us to our waiting DATTCO motor coach, which efficiently whisked us to the cathedral on Amsterdam Avenue. Here John gathered his flock for a few moments of orientation and gave instructions to reassemble precisely at 12:55 p.m.; our presentation would begin at 1:00 p.m. in the chancel. He then sent us on our way so that we could eat at one of a number of suggested nearby restaurants. After lunch, many of us returned early to the cathedral to wander through its vast interior and to gaze in awe at the exhibit “Phoenix: Xu Bing at the Cathedral,” which offered two massive bird constructions suspended from the ceiling of the nave.

Our host at St. John the Divine was the cathedral’s associate organist, Ray Nagem. After giving a history of the organ, he played two works from different periods to demonstrate the instrument’s diversity. His deft rendition of Bach’s “Pastorale” proved that it was possible to perform baroque music well even on this large organ housed in a huge space. To reveal the organ’s full potential, he then played Maurice Duruflé’s “Prélude, adagio et choral varié sur le theme du ‘Veni Creator,’” earning admiring applause. Ray concluded the program by answering questions and wishing our group well as we organ-crawled further through the city.

And crawl we did, as our coach slowly inched its way through heavy traffic to Grace Church at Broadway and 10th Street. Standing in the portal of this neo-Gothic structure awaiting our arrival were the church’s organist, Patrick Allen, and our own former Dean, Jason Roberts, whose defection to St. Bartholomew’s last May had in fact inspired the day’s excursion. (Erik Eickhoff, formerly of Westminster Presbyterian Church in West Hartford, had earlier joined us at the cathedral.) A number of hugs preceded our entry into the church, where Patrick gave an informative history of the church and an account of the purchase of its new Taylor and Boody organ. (An interesting feature of this mechanical-action instrument is that pipes are located on both sides of the chancel, with long track- ers running underneath the floor between the two cases.) Then, to demonstrate the organ’s rich sound, he accompanied the group in a stately rendition of the hymn Let Every Voice. As we indeed raised our voices in song, we proved that organists can not only play but can also sing. And to prove that they can indeed play, a number of participants then tested the Taylor and Boody’s tonal resources.

When our time at Grace Church was up, Treasurer Coghill summoned us back to our bus for the ride across town to St. Bart’s. Here Jason unlocked doors and led us through passageways to the nave of this impressive building that had, he explained, been largely financed by Vanderbilt money. Like Patrick and Ray before him, Jason spoke about the history of the building and of the organ, the largest in the city, and after demonstrating its tonal possibilities he urged participants to play the instrument for themselves. Finally, before time ran out, Jason was coaxed into offering two improvisations on familiar hymn tunes: Let Every Voice and Sine Nomine. Both earned appreciative applause.


As our departure from New York neared, Treasurer Coghill once again herded us into our waiting motor coach. On the way home we stopped at the Darien rest area on I-95 to catch a bite of fast food and to do what one often does at rest areas. Before too long we were back at St. Mark the Evangelist, in time for some of us, at least, to catch the 10 o’clock news. Before leaving our bus, we expressed our appreciation to our driver Paul for safely getting us to our destinations, and to John Coghill and Dean Kari Magg for having so successfully organizing the crawl.

Organist Simon Thomas Jacobs


The Greater Hartford Chapter is pleased to collaborate with Music and the Arts at Center Church in Hartford to present Simon Thomas Jacobs, the winner of the 2013 St. Albans International Organ Competition, in concert on Friday, December 5, beginning at 7:00 p.m., at Center Church, 675 Main Street, Hartford. This concert coincides with the 60th anniversary of the dedication of the Roberts Memorial Organ in Center Church.

373f57e3cb1c29d034f89e9d99202ac2Simon, a native of the United Kingdom now living
in the United States, is a graduate of Clare College, Cambridge, and now is working toward completing
an Artist Diploma at Oberlin, where he studies with James David Christie. He is no stranger to Connecticut, as he was associate director of music at Christ Church, Greenwich (2009-2011), was the winner of the 2010 Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival (USA) young professional’s level competition, held at the First Church of Christ in Wethersfield, and performed last November on the organ concert series at Trinity College in Hartford.

As part of having won the St Albans Competition, Simon is represented in the United States by Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists. He is in the midst of performing on some of the finest and most well-known instruments in the world, including King’s College, Cambridge, Notre-Dame de Paris, and the International Performing Arts Center in Moscow. He will record his first solo disc as part of Priory’s “Great European Organs” series on the new Richards and Fowkes organ at St. George’s, Hanover Square, in London (this organ was featured in the August, 2014, issue of The American Organist).

Simon’s program at Center Church will be:

Toccata and Fugue in E Major – J. L. Krebs

Partita on “Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele” – Georg Böhm

Three settings of “Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland” from the Leipzig Chorales – J. S. Bach

Fantasia and Fugue in B-flat Major – Alexandre Boëly

Chorale I in E Major – César Franck

“Scherzo” from Suite pour orgue (op. 48) – Jehan Alain

“Dieu parmi nous” from La Nativité du Seigneur – Olivier Messiaen

Chapter hosts ‘Annual’ Anthem Reading Session

Chapter hosts ‘Annual’ Anthem Reading Session

We kick off the new program year on Saturday, September 27 with an Anthem Reading Session. Last year’s session was so helpful and fun, many attendees asked for it to be repeated. This year’s event will be held at First Church of Christ, Congregational, 2183 Main Street, Glastonbury. We start at 9:30 am and finish at 1:00.

We encourage you to bring a potential new AGO member if possible. Also, bring 1 or 2 of your favorite anthems (less well-known encouraged). A wonderful lunch will be provided at no cost to attendees. The program will provide plenty of time for singing, sharing, and socializing.

5ef79ccd86881f21f38dc48cae5038ffThe anthem reading session will emphasize works accessible to small choirs. Please bring enough copies to share (at least 12). Participants serve as the choir, sight- singing each anthem. You can accompany the anthem you bring, or someone else will be happy to play. A list of titles will be compiled as a resource for all.

In order to help our planning, please email Mary De-Libero ( by September 22nd if you are attending. Let her know who’s coming and the anthem titles, composers, voicings, publishers.

Come and get some great fresh ideas for your choirs’ upcoming season.

Directions to First Church, Glastonbury

From points West of Hartford

Take 84 East to exit 55, Route 2 East to Norwich-New London. Route 2 to exit 8, Hebron Avenue/Route 94, take right off exit. Go 1/2 mile to stop sign at Main Street. Take left onto Main Street. Church is 2/10 of a mile down on the right.

From points East of Hartford

Take 84 West to exit 55, Route 2 East to Norwich-New London. Route 2 to exit 8, Hebron Avenue/Route 94, take right off exit. Go 1/2 mile to stop sign at Main Street. Take left onto Main Street. Church is 2/10 of a mile down on the right.

From points South of Hartford

Take Route 91 North to exit 25, Route 3 North. Follow over bridge and follow signs for Route 2 East-Norwich. Take exit 8, Hebron Avenue, take right off exit. Go 1/2 mile to stop sign at Main Street. Take left onto Main Street. Church is 2/10 of a mile down on the right.

From points North of Hartford

Take Route 91 South to exit 25N. Follow over bridge and follow signs for Route 2 East-Norwich. Take exit 8, Hebron Avenue, take right off exit. Go 1/2 mile to stop sign at Main Street. Take left onto Main Street. Church is 2/10 of a mile down on the right.

From points East of Glastonbury

Take Route 2 West to exit 8. Take right off exit, then a quick left onto Route 94, Hebron Avenue. Go 1 mile to stop sign at Main Street. Take left onto Main Street. Church is 2/10 of a mile down on the right.

PIPESCREAMS! needs yoooo….

PIPESCREAMS! needs yoooo….

Pipescreams isn’t scary without organists.

Don’t forget the costume! 

Image 11Our popular Halloween extravaganza Pipescreams will once more be hosted by Church of Christ, Congregational, 1075 Main St., Newington. The fun begins on Friday, October 24th at 7pm, with a program of organ music ranging from the sublimely creepy to the weirdly wonderful, with everything in between. Whether you are feeling like an old mummy, a young werewolf or maybe just the most beautiful princess in the world, get out that crazy costume and add to the show! Strut your stuff in the ‘costume parade’ or just sit back and boo and hiss at our talented chapter organists. Invite all of your friends and family to this evening of entertainment for the young-at-heart. A reception featuring devilishly delicious treats and spooky snacks will follow the concert.

Organists – it’s not too late to offer your unique contribution! If you would like to give that unusual piece a whirl, you know, the one that is so much fun but somehow just wouldn’t fly on a Sunday morning, contact Kari Magg (

A Short History of Pipescreams

Image 33You might be interested to know that our chapter has mounted a Pipescreams show since 1989. The first spooktacular was held at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hartford. The following year it went to St. John’s Episcopal in West Hartford and then on to a number of other locations, including Asylum Hill Congregational Church, Trinity College Chapel, Christ Church Cathedral and South Congregational Church — all located in Hartford.

For seven years (1999-2005) Pipescreams held forth at the United Methodist Church of Hartford where there must have been many devils to exorcise. Then the First Church of Christ in Glastonbury was brave enough to take us on for four years (2006-2009). In 2010 the event materialized at St. John’s Episcopal in West Hartford and reappeared for two more years. Last year, the ghouls and ghosts showed up at the Church of Christ, Congre- gational in Newington and will pop out there again this year.



GHC-AGO:  Many Parts Make for One Dynamic Organization

GHC-AGO: Many Parts Make for One Dynamic Organization

A Review of the GHC-AGO Annual Meeting, Monday, May 19, 2014

-by Amy Vinisko

Part Old Friends and Colleagues – Part Networking and New Acquaintances

Just as the GHC-AGO is comprised of many mem- bers, with differing interests and areas of expertise,
our annual gathering consists of a healthy blend of long time members and new acquaintances. We are united in our mission of promoting great organ music and camaraderie with our fellow devotees. Conversa- tions of the evening centered around possibilities and responsibilities of our various individual contributions to the mission, relaxed banter between old colleagues and new connections between those being intro- duced for the first time through the network that is the GHC-AGO.

Part Social Reunion – Part Business Agenda

Gathering for the social hour, congenial conversation, sung grace and breaking bread all set the stage for the business of the evening.

Part Familiar – Part Future and Change

Our recent turnover in the Deanery was a shock
to many (Jason Roberts has taken a position at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in New York City), but Kari Miller Magg has competently executed the transition. She ran the meeting with grace and order and during her initial Dean’s Remarks, announced her intent to complete her full term as Dean (to rousing member applause!).

Part Service – Part Support

The GHC-AGO Chapter is running strong. The Slate
of Officers for 2014-2015 was unanimously approved by all: Kari Miller Magg, Dean; Peter Niedmann, Sub- Dean; John Coghill, Treasurer; Amy Vinisko, Secretary; Mark Child, Registrar; Members-at Large: Jerry David- son (2015), Ronald Coons (2016) and Mary DeLibero (2017).

Dean Kari Miller Magg proceeded to thank several members for their various contributions to the orga- nization. Sub-Dean Peter Niedmann announced the

2014-2015 Program Roster which includes a blend
of workshops, concerts and events sure to appeal to nearly all. Treasurer John Coghill gave the Treasurer’s Report, which was approved. He commented on the recently formed Jolidon Committee which, in col- laboration with the Board, is responsible for all matters concerning the generous Jolidon Bequest. Chapter member, Anne Harney, has taken on bookkeeping responsibilities to monitor this asset.

Region I Councillor, Cheryl Duerr spoke enthusiastically of our Chapter’s position to truly move the mission of the AGO forward, whether it be through Chapter initi- ated programs or through underwriting events spon- sored by our nearby Region I colleagues.

Joan Pritchard contributed a piece of new business. She presented “A Letter of Commendation” for Rich- ard Coffey, retiring Artistic Director of CONCORA. The crowd eagerly approved the glowing letter written by Pritchard that will be sent on the GHC-AGO’s behalf in appreciation for his long lasting contributions to Greater Hartford Area.

Part Beautiful Location, Good Drink and Food and well, it really was a beautiful setting at The Mill on the River in South Windsor and my food (and drink!), at least, was quite good. Here’s to another successful Annual Meeting! A big thank you to all who made it possible and memorable.

Peter Niedmann Workshop Review

by Mary Rose DiGiovanna

On Saturday, November 16, a very enthusiastic group of church musicians turned out for the workshop presented by Peter Niedmann at Sacred Heart R.C., Bloomfield. The morning began with a “coffee and” which led into the first session of the day, “Music Arranging.” Peter took us through arranging a familiar hymn tune in several different ways. We created a re-harmonization which could then be used as a prelude/postlude or a choir anthem – especially useful on that rare occasion when the anthem is ‘just not going to happen,’ and created a descant on a pre-composed harmonization. It was quite an interactive event as the attendees provided melodic and harmonic material to make this happen under the guidance of the pro.

A delicious lunch of homemade soup, wraps and other goodies was a welcomed break for additional fellowship and networking with colleagues

We reconvened for the afternoon session
to learn how to maneuver through Sibelius software. Those of us who were beginners got our feet wet and found its many uses
for making our bits of compositions look professional. The more advanced users came away with many a shortcut to get their works completed with greater speed and accuracy.

Many thanks to Sacred Heart Church for use of its facility and to John and Joanne Coghill who cooked, baked and hosted us for this event.

Chapter Anthem Reading Session Review


On Saturday, September 21st, our first program of the 2013-2014 season was presented. A hearty group of
21 organists and music directors gathered at Westminster Presbyterian Church, West Hartford (Erik Eickhoff, Organist & Music Director) to share and sing anthems they consider worthy and useful for the “average” choir.

5ef79ccd86881f21f38dc48cae5038ffA wide range of styles–from early Baroque to CCM– was represented. The attendees led the anthems they brought, conducting an excellent “instant” choir. Percussion spiced up the morning as well.

The program concluded with a complimentary lunch. Many thanks to Kari Magg, Erik Eickhoff, and Deb Gemma for their work running the event. Here are the anthems that were shared:


“All Things New” by Randy Cox, Kris Crunk Discover, SATB and piano

“Amid the Calm of Winter’s Rest” by Richard Weidner, unison or SATB, accom- panied

“Be Still” by David Kauffman, SATB

“Blessed” by Dave Parker, Kathy Walden (available from J.W. Pepper), SATB or SAB

“Epiphany Alleluias” by John Weaver, SATB or 2pt. and organ

“A Communion Invitation” by Martin

“Gentle Mary” by Margaret Sandresky, SATB a cappella

“Holy God, Faithful and Unchanging” by Anthony Marks, RSCM, St. James Music Publishing, SAB choir and keyboard

“I Can Do All Things” arr. Mark Burrows,

Choristers Guild #CGA1309, unison/2-pt. with piano, optional tambourine

“I Will Praise the Name of God” by John Blow

“If We Will Seek the Lord” by Nancy Price, Don Besig. Glory Sound #D-5377, SAB

“Improperium” by McNeil Robinson

“Jesus, Gentlest Saviour” arr. Alan MacMil- lan, Paraclete Press, unison/2-pt. and piano or organ

“Let in the Light” by Alfred Fedak, Selah Publishing Co. 410-674, 2-pt. mixed choir and organ

“Let the Praise Go Round” by William Boyce, arr. Hal Hopson, HW Gray Publications/Bel- win Mills Publishing Corp. SAB

“Listen” by Dave Parker, Kathy Walden (available from J.W. Pepper), SATB or SAB

“Lord, You Have My Heart”
by Martin Smith, arr. James Koerts, Lorenz 10/4183L, SATB

“The Prayer of St. Francis” by Bradley Ellingboe, Kjos Music Ed. 5767,
SAB choir and keyboard

“Rejoice, My Friends” by Betty Bertaux

“The Shepherd’s Story” by Alan MacMillan, Paraclete Press, unison choir and piano

“Sing Out With Joy” by Mark Patterson, Choristers Guild CGA1051, Unison/2-pt. with piano, optional finger cymbals, claves

“The Stone Is Rolled Away” by Victor C. Johnson, Lorenz Music Publishing, SATB a cappella

“Wexford Carol” by Peter Neidmann, Augsburg-Fortress, SATB and organ

Pipescreams Needs Yoooooooo!


Pipescreams isn’t scary without organists!

Friday, October 25, 2013 at 7:00 pm at Church of Christ, Congregational, 1075 Main St., Newington.

Have you run into any of the following confusions among your own congregations? “Organs” belong
in funeral and wedding chapels where the music is ignore-able and to be treated as is done in daytime TV drama! Organs are half-alive terrors, living in basements and puffing smoke out of their pipes, playing haunting music and connected with “Phantom of the Opera!” Organs are outdated now in history, and it’s okay for a minister to assign Bart Simpson and his friend Milhouse to take wire brushes to the pipes as punishment for bad behavior. I have been told, “Our church has two organs – a pipe one, and a real one.”

I have met choir members who didn’t notice that the pedal board is different from a piano’s, and others don’t recognize the significance of stops. Colleagues! There is room for us to educate our friends and neighbors!

Pipescreams is a great opportunity to do just that. Building on the drama and attraction of the organ’s stereotype for spookiness, PipeScreams invites us to draw in the public and expand their sense of what a real organ can be and offer – “living and breathing” under our fingers, showing off music the audience came for, played in ways beyond the audience’s expecta- tions, live, and with more than the audience bargained for – in the best sense of that.

AGO pic 5This year, Pipescreams will be offered at the Church of Christ, Congregational UCC in Newington (1075 Main Street, Newington) on Friday, October 25, at 7:00 p.m. It has been three or four years since Pipescreams last moved in location. Each church and host musician has particular gifts to offer, but some things won’t change: come in costume, boo & hiss, and look for refreshments after!

If you are interested in playing, and for answers to most of your other questions, contact Meg Smith ( Come. Join the fun and “blow” our minds!

Chapter Opens 2013-2014 Season

Ah, the lazy days of summer… sipping iced tea on the terrace… lounging under a shady tree with a good book…this is the life…

WHAT??  You say I should be using this time to plan next year’s choir anthems?? Ugh, why bother? My poor choir is probably going to sound even worse next year – at least that warbling alto retired (ten years too late)- but that leaves only one alto who sings so softly I wonder why she bothers… and the tenors! – those lost sheep… that new bass reads music really well, but didn’t I just hear that he was getting a divorce and moving to Texas? Well, at least          there are those two high-school girls in the soprano section – they sing pretty well – if only I could get their attention…

5ef79ccd86881f21f38dc48cae5038ffWait, I just remembered! The Greater Hartford Chapter of the AGO has a great event scheduled on Saturday, September 21st, an Anthem Reading Session focusing on pieces that aren’t too complicated, pieces that don’t need a huge choir, anthems that might work really well for choirs like mine. I think I’ll bring my friend along (her choir is even smaller than mine) – I know the lunch will be good, too!




WHEN:  Saturday, September 21, 2013, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

WHAT:  Anthem Reading Session, with emphasis on works for the smaller choir, Membership event with lunch

WHERE:  Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2080 Boulevard, West Hartford