Central Hudson Valley Chapter, AGO

Chapter News

May 2005

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Well, here we are, less than eight weeks away from our convention. This is certainly an exciting time for all of us. It's been a lot of work, but a lot of fun as well. Someone recently said to me, “This chapter has a really high level of affability.” I had to agree. It is possible, in fact easy, for a chapter this size to sink into complacency and ultimately nonexistence. Nothing could be further from our current stance of involvement and commitment. Over the past two plus years I have been consistently overwhelmed with the level of dedication of our members. It seems that nothing is too much, nothing is a problem, people are happy to take on a little more to make a success of our ventures. Personally, I see the convention not as a single "big thing" but rather a slightly larger example of what goes on among us from season to season. As we approach the feast of Pentecost and the end of Eastertide, let's trust that God will continue to use us for his work in this world in the same way he used our ancestors in faith.

On more practical note, we have many things to tend to in the coming weeks. If you actually have not registered for the convention yet, I urge you to do so NOW. Workshops are filling up fast and you may not get your first choice. Hotel rooms are also filling up, and although many of us will commute, if you plan to stay in town, make a reservation soon.

And please do not neglect to clean out that music cabinet and get your used material to Lois. We can probably realize a couple of hundred dollars in this area, and it could also be real fun – not to mention that you can make space for the music you will buy at the sale.

Volunteers are still needed for all kinds of things, so please call Jennifer Geibel. If she already has your name, you will likely be receiving a call in the near future.

Then we all need to think about dues. It is really helpful for planning purposes to have those dues paid up as early as possible. It also helps the treasurer to get them assembled and submitted to headquarters earlier rather than later. Details and a form accompany this newsletter. I know how busy we all are, myself included, but please do try to help out your overworked board on this one.

And some wonderful news! We have awarded $350 to each of two students in our region: Michael Goodman of Ossining, NY and David Park of River Edge, NJ. Both are juniors in high school and are studying organ privately, as well as doing other things like piano, cello, hymnology. They will let us know exactly where the money goes at a later date, but in their application, they requested it for summer study and tuition. This outlay will reduce the money in the scholarship fund to roughly $150. Please keep this worthwhile cause in mind and when you are inclined to memorialize someone, consider a donation to the fund. A summary of the fund's origin and history follows, courtesy of our wonderful chapter secretary.

This is, of course, a great deal to digest all at once, but remember that it takes all of us pulling together to keep the organization alive and well. We would not have been around for our fifty plus years if we hadn't been in the habit of doing just that. Not all habits need to be broken. Thank God.

Finally, let me extend congratulations to Al Reese, former Dean, for his spectacular handbell program last Sunday at Monroe Presbyterian. (If you have never heard a solo handbell piece you are missing something!) And also congratulations to Maris Kristapsons for his very successful concert at St. Paul's Episcopal, Poughkeepsie. A fine boost for that congregation. As always, let's try to support one another in these endeavors. Please check our calendar regularly, and also please let the rest of us know what you're doing. The web site is always being updated.

Your board and I look forward to hearing from you in one or more of the ways I've mentioned. Meanwhile be well and continue the good work.


Membership News

• Welcome to a new (old) member! Karen Flaherty has been a chapter member in the past, but is now renewing after several seasons away. We are glad she’s back.
Karen M. Flaherty
19 Lewis Ave
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
e-mail: karty717@cs.com

Review of Paul Jacobs Recital (March 6, 2005)

By Stuart Ballinger
First off I want to say that Paul played from memory, with no music!! The first half of the program was all Bach, starting with the Sinfonia from Cantata #29 – very familiar and nicely done!

Next came the Choral-Prelude: Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesus Christ, BWV 639. Before playing this, Paul asked that people meditate, and no one made a sound at the end.
Immediately following was the Trio Sonata in C, BWV 529 (also familiar) in 3 movements. It was amazing to hear the three voices going at once. Paul used the strings on the Casavant – what a nice sound!

To close out the first half, Paul played the Prelude & Fugue in D, BWV 532. The Prelude has three sections: Fantasy, Alla Breve, and finally a heavy double pedal section. Then came the Fugue, which I nicknamed “The Dog Chasing Its Tail.” Near the end of the Fugue, in which the hands went all over the keyboard, came a pedal solo, which went up to the top of the pedalboard. The Fugue brought the people to their feet in applause!

The second half of the recital brought the Concerto #1 in G minor op.4 (G.F.Handel). This was originally written for organ and chamber orchestra, and transcribed by Paul for Solo organ. This piece is in 4 movements, and used the Strings to good effect!

Paul then played two Choral Preludes from Opus 122 by Joannus Brahams: “O wie selig seid ihr doch, ihr Frommen” and “Es ist ein Ros' entsprungen.” Paul said that these Chorale Preludes were composed late in Brahms’ life. Again there was not a sound from anyone when he finished playing!

To close out the published part of the program, Paul played Variations on “America” by Charles Ives. As an encore he played the Fugue from Bach’s Prelude & Fugue in A Minor. This familiar piece with a pedal solo near the end also brought people to their feet in applause.

One thing that Paul mentioned, which this reviewer agreed with, was that that there were no young people at the recital. He exhorted the audience to change that situation by telling someone about the recital.

Members’ Recital a Success Despite Flooding

By Susan LaGrande
On April 3, about 20 members and friends braved flooding conditions to attend the annual Members’ Recital, presented at Grace Episcopal Church in Middletown, NY. The program consisted of duets of all sorts, including several organ with voice, organ with trumpet, and two organists at a single console. The recital was dedicated to the memory of chapter member Nora Zeller Strudwick, who died in February 2005. Members greeted Nora’s family at a reception following the recital, hosted by Mary Caskey and ladies of the church.

The program began with The Bird’s Song (from The Pilgrim’s Progress) by R. Vaughan Williams, performed by Nancy Herforth, Soprano, and Boyd Herforth, Organ. For those unfamiliar with the piece (like me) this is a lovely arrangement of the 23rd Psalm. Boyd and Nancy were followed by student member Michael Linke on the organ and his mother Arlene, soprano, who did Let There Be Peace on Earth by Sy Miller and Jill Jackson, and "Pie Jesu" from The Requiem Opus 48 by Gabriel Fauré. It was nice to finally meet our most distant member.

Next, Alice Cann provided piano accompaniment for her friend Barbara Corona, who sang two songs for piano and voice which Alice composed while she was going blind. In her program notes, Alice wrote, “I have Retinitis Pigmentosa. By 1991 I was totally blind. My friend Barbara has been a strong support during this journey.” The first, called JUST NOW, was written in 1988, when, in Alice’s words, “I was clinging to my last spot of vision.” This song of hope was followed by a song from 2002, as yet unnamed, which seemed to express far greater desolation. “Sometimes,” Alice writes, “like a child looking for mother, our soul searches for God.”

Jennifer Geibel was scheduled to play Deep River by Joe Utterback, but she was unable to attend due to the swollen Wallkill River at her doorstep. (As Alice remarked, maybe God mistook all Jennifer's practicing of Deep River for a prayer.)

Next my husband Frank and I presented two settings of Psalm 118. The first, Give thanks to the Lord, is from The Grail Psalter by Joseph Gelineau, first published in 1963. The second, This is the day the Lord has made, is by Marty Haugen. Frank, a tenor, presented the antiphons and invited the audience to sing the responses.

Ruby Hyatt and her husband Jack followed. Jack played a highly ornamented baroque piece for piccolo trumpet, accompanied by Ruby at the organ. Ruby then played the Adagio, from the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C Major by J. S. Bach.

The printed program ended with Praise to the Lord, the Almighty by Michael Burkhardt, with John Sullivan and Al Reese sharing the organ bench. This exciting piece has five movements: Rondo, Canon, Pedaliter (played by the feet only), Siciliano, and Carillon. This is one I’d really like to hear again! To close the afternoon, John and Al accompanied the audience in the singing of Donald Fishel’s Alleluia, Alleluia, Give Thanks to the Risen Lord.

Thanks to all the members who responded to the invitation to play, and to those who participated with their attendance. We were especially pleased that Nora’s husband Tom and their three daughters were able to attend.

Card of Thanks

Dear Members of the CHVAGO,

I really enjoyed the recent concert you dedicated to the memory of my mother, Nora Strudwick. Playing the organ was something she learned later in her life, but took on with as much zest as she did with everything else in her life!
Thank you for your kind gesture. It meant a lot to my family and me.

Yours truly,

Vicky Strudwick Blackmore

Past Dean Presents Handbell Concert

by Susan LaGrande
On April 24, past dean Al Reese presented a wonderful handbell concert at the First Presbyterian Church in Monroe, where he has been Organist for several years. The concert was a required part of his nearly-completed Master’s Degree program at Concordia University Wisconsin.

There were at least five tables full of bells set up, ranging in size from egg cup to lampshade, with some hand chimes thrown in for good measure. Sharing the program with Al were about a dozen other ringers in various combinations, and piano accompaniment was provided for several pieces. The music was eclectic in both style and mood, and included an original composition and several arrangements by Alan D. Reese.

To me the highlight of the concert was Al’s solo rendition of a Jazz Medley: ‘Round Midnight (Monk), Here’s That Rainy Day (Van Heusen), and My Funny Valentine (Rogers/Hart). There was no tintinnabulation of the bells here; the tone was subtle and evocative, reminding me of Lionel Hampton’s great vibraphone work – only instead of holding sticks and striking fixed plates, Al was working with individual bells, picking up one, two or three at once, playing them, setting them back down, and picking up another set, all before the next eighth note came along. Al remarked that he knew of no previous attempt to play improvisational jazz on handbells, but hopefully this occasion will not be the last.

Al and his wife Lois will be relocating to Norfolk, VA, this summer, and although we will be very sorry to see them go, we wish them much happiness as they embark on their new careers.

Scholarship Funds Awarded

The Central Hudson Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists is pleased to announce the distribution of the Margaret Pecoraro Memorial Scholarship Fund for 2005. The recipients are:
• David Shin W. Park - $350. David is a junior in high school who attends the Juilliard pre-college program as an organ major, under the private instruction of Dr. Matthew Lewis. David has three years of experience as a church organist and currently serves as organist at Wilderness Methodist Church in Dumont, NJ, where his father is pastor.
• Michael Goodman - $350. Michael, a high school junior, is assistant organist at Trinity Episcopal Church in Ossining, where he studies organ with Sheldon Eldridge. Michael also studies piano with Susan Kafer and hymnology with Rick Erickson, plays in an advanced handbell group, and directs a choir at Croton Falls Community Church.

The Margaret Pecoraro Memorial Scholarship Fund was established following the death of its namesake, chapter member Margaret Pecoraro, in November 2002. Born in Mainz, Germany, in 1931, Margaret was a church organist by the age of 12. She graduated from the Church Music Institute of the Diocese of Mainz as an Organist and Choir Master in 1941. She also obtained her degree as a Piano Teacher. In 1958 she came to the United States and married; she played the organ and gave piano lessons for many years while raising her family. After being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late 2001, she continued to play regularly until a few months before her death. Margaret is remembered as an exacting teacher who was at the same time encouraging and compassionate.

To qualify for scholarship awards, a candidate must be 21 years old or younger; must be a full-time student in a degree/diploma program; must study organ on a regular basis; must be a member of the American Guild of Organists (if not already a member, membership will included in the scholarship grant). References must be supplied. Anyone may apply for scholarship funds, but preference will be given to chapter members first and then to students residing or studying within Region II of the American Guild of Organists. Funds are awarded in the spring, not more than once a year, at the discretion of the executive board of the Central Hudson Valley Chapter, AGO.

For more information about the Margaret Pecoraro Memorial Scholarship Fund, please contact the chapter secretary, Susan LaGrande, at 845-226-6496.

NYC Chapter Competition Winner to Give Concert

On Sunday, May 15th, at 4:00 pm, the Westchester Chapter of the American Organists will present an organ recital by James Feddeck, recently named first prize winner in the New York City Chapter’s Young Organist Competition (see Calendar of Events for details).

James Feddeck began his music career at 8 years old, when he was hired as an organist at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (Eastchester, NY). Three years later, he was appointed organist/choirmaster and music director of this church, and associate organist at Village Lutheran Church (Bronxville, NY), positions he maintained until his completion of high school in 2001. James is currently a student at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio, where he is a double major in both organ and oboe performance.

Additionally, he was admitted to the conservatory as a piano major. James is in his second season as conducting assistant of the Northern Ohio Youth Orchestra, has been guest conductor of the Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, and covers rehearsals for the Oberlin Orchestra. As an organist, he has given recitals throughout the United States and Europe, including Austria, France, and Switzerland. His organ teachers have included the legendary Robert G. Owen, Haskell Thomson, and currently, James David Christie.

Editor’s Corner

This newsletter is published by the Central Hudson Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. The editor is:
Susan LaGrande
12 Montrose Lane
Wappingers Falls, NY 12590
Phone: 845-226-6496 (home)
Fax: 845-226-1035

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