Thank you for visiting the website of the Greater
Hartford Chapter of the American Guild of Organists
The American Guild of Organists was founded in 1896 as an educational and service organization and is headquartered in New York City. Under the leadership of the National Council, a network of volunteer officials at the regional, district and local levels directs the activities of the guild. The guild is divided into nine geographical regions; the Greater Hartford Chapter belongs to Region I (New England) and is one of the largest and most active chapters in the region.
Chapter members are invited to submit short video submissions of their favorite organ selections for the season, which are compiled and shared via YouTube.
SHOP TALK: Interviews with Organists/Choir Directors
A collection of interviews with local organist /music directors. We’ll discuss their response to the pandemic and their strategies for hosting Zoom choir rehearsals, choosing music for online collaborations, what they’ve learned about navigating through technology during this time, and the mishaps they’ve experienced along the way.
VIRTUAL ORGAN CRAWLS:
Several local organists take cameras into their organ chambers and share their instruments, answer questions with a live online audience.
Jolidon Scholars Concert:
A curated online recital, featuring organ students who are or have been sponsored by the Jolidon Fund of the Greater Hartford AGO.
Greater Hartford Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, YouTube Channel
Dear Chapter Members,
What an incredibly strange time to be starting anything, yet here we are together. I’m honored to be your new Dean of this Greater Hartford Chapter, as of mid-November. I’m thankful for our fabulous board - Susan Carroll, Scott Lamlein, Christopher Houllihan, Noah Smith, Bob Bausmith, and John Parsons - and for their ability to think imaginatively about what we can offer this community in this liminal time. I’m also grateful to Benjamin Straley for his faithful leadership as Dean in the first couple months of this season and for his willingness to stay involved on the board.
I don’t believe I’m the only one who has felt some amount of collegial isolation during this pandemic time. Without the ability to attend concerts and conferences together, greet each other in worship services, sing side by side in rehearsals, shake hands at gatherings or committee meetings… I’ve had to frequently remind myself that I’m one of many, many organists trying to find my footing, navigate technology, and create a new way of doing what I love in the middle of a pandemic. I’ve simultaneously had the fewest events on my calendar yet worked harder than I ever have before. I’ve put unhealthy amounts of time into the simplest of anthems, hoping for a teaspoon of choral joy. I’ve sworn every vulgarity trying to film myself playing pieces I thought I knew - finding myself doing 10, 20, 30 takes as my brain turns to jello.
Here are a few actual questions I’ve asked myself this year:
Will it be safe if I sanitize microphone heads, bleach wipe choir folders, space everyone 10ft apart, require masks and gloves, and have singers use separate doors?
How do I pitch-shift my voice to make virtual choir rehearsal tracks for my basses?
If nobody responds to a piece of music, did it even happen? What does “enough” response look or feel like?
Have I always made those weird facial expressions when I play? Why do my eyes look like that?
Where the heck am I supposed to mount microphones to best record organ music? How do people EQ this kind of dynamic range?
How do I use hymnals to safely cradle a camera on a music stand in order to create a makeshift tripod?
This year I have been humbled by technology countless times and have shed tears in an empty sanctuary, alone at the console. I’ve had to recalculate my role as a musician, but perhaps more importantly, I’ve had to really sit with my responsibility to find creative means for keeping communities involved. Currently, I’ve got a chorister mom who has excitedly run the numbers on an air circulation proposal using an industrial-grade leaf blower, customized window cutouts, and plastic shower curtains in the hopes of safely filming young singers individually, at a distance. That’s one of my Christmas Eve projects. I don't even know what her face looks like yet, but I've learned to identify what hope sounds like in her voice. So perhaps all this rubble we’re standing on is actually soil.
Michelle Horsley, Dean
LETTER FROM THE DEAN:
Michelle Horsley, Dean
Dean: Michelle Horsley
Secretary: Noah Smith
Treasurer: Bob Bausmith
Registrar: John Parsons
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