Central Hudson Valley Chapter, AGO

Chapter News

July 2007

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Dear Friends and Colleagues,

On June 17th we came together at the Members’ Recital as friends, musicians, colleagues, lovers of music and lovers of organ music. As organists we came to perform music on Bach’s “Royal Instrument” – the Organ. It is not accidental that we also want commend one who has given graciously and endlessly the gifts with which God has graced him – John Sullivan. John’s leadership and friendship, along with his musicianship, humor and guiding hand will be missed as he leaves the Mid-Hudson Valley and enters this new chapter of his life entitled: Retirement!

I believe it to be true that when people retire these days they don’t sit around being idle. On the contrary, I know way too many people who live their lives more fully once they enter this new chapter in their life. For musicians though, it is a bit different. For us it is not another chapter, but rather another score of music. We take music with us wherever we go. Music is our Life and our Life is Music. Music is truly everywhere!

As organists we are beckoned to a higher calling for continued inspiration through God’s many graces and blessings which he bestows on us in our musical lives. Ours is an art that brings many closer to God in prayer for those who hear our “voice” sing through the organ on Sunday mornings. Always remember: When you Sing, you Pray Twice. John has been a prayerful servant to God and to many who have Prayed Twice under his musicianship as an Organist.

John, you have been a member of our Chapter for 34 Years – since 1973! Your voice & prayers have been heard throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley. You are or have been a Minister of Music, Organist, Director of Music, Conductor, Teacher, Colleague, Dean and yes, even “Fellow” (FAGO) to many in this Central Hudson Valley Chapter of the AGO. John, we are confident you will continue to serve God, the Church of God and the Family of God for many Scores, Oratorios and Hymns in the future. My suspicion is that you have already lined up a church position in your future home in the state of Maine. You will not be idle in your retirement years! Moreover, I suspect that you will bring your mantle of leadership, friendship, collegiality, teaching and fellowship to your new home. God will bless your music ministry wherever the calling. No doubt your new church family will be singing “Soli Deo Gloria” under your prayerful guidance.

While you will be missed for all of the above mentioned attributes, please remember you will have a home in our hearts always. Those of us who were on the 2005 Region II & III Convention Steering Committee will fondly remember as you guided our chapter with gentle and diplomatic aplomb through meetings, workshops, lectures, budgetary requirements which all led up to many successes and laurels in our Banner and Motto as Organists – “Soli Deo Gloria”.

One of my interests is learning what names mean. In looking up the name “John,” I learned its origins come from the Hebrew language; “God is Gracious.” How lucky are we to have received God’s grace through his servant, our friend and colleague John Sullivan!

Reminder: Our Chapter Picnic is Saturday, July 28, 2007, at 5:00 PM ‘til dusk. Bring a dish to share, a chair to sit on, and perhaps a guest. Location: 12 Montrose Lane, Wappingers Falls, NY. Meats for the grill and paper goods will be provided. For suggestions about how you can round out the menu, call 845-226-6496. Directions are provided elsewhere in this newsletter.

In His happy and joyful service I affix my name…..

Gregory J. Citarella+

Membership News

• Ray and Heather Corey have classical organ music that they would like people to call them about. Included are composers such as Bach, Couperin, Vierne, Dupré, Liszt, Buxtehude, etc. You can reach the Coreys at 845-229-5438.
• Stu Ballinger would appreciate the offer of a ride to the Chapter Picnic on July 28. He is also interested in getting a ride to other organ-events throughout the year. If you can help, please call Stu at 845-452-2482 or until 4:00 PM at 845-471-3820.

Members’ Recital

– A Review by Susan LaGrande

If Father’s Day obligations prevented you from attending the Members’ Recital on June 17th, you missed a very enjoyable event. About thirty chapter members and parishioners gathered in the small, beautiful, and cool sanctuary to hear a mixed program played on the fine Beckerath tracker organ. Our host, Dr. Peter Weir, was very attentive to the guest organists, making sure that the adjustable organ bench was positioned according to each player’s needs.

After brief introductory remarks by then Sub-Dean Gregory Citarella, the program began with Denise Bassen playing “Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier” (Dearest Jesus, we are here) from Bach’s Orgelbuchlein. Jumping two centuries ahead, Celestine Campbell played three short pieces by Hermann Schroeder (1904-1984) which were nicely varied in mood and tempo. We have not heard much from Celestine in the past, but we hope we will hear more in the future.

Returning to the classical period, Eric Hepp then played Buxtehude’s Prelude, Fugue & Chaconne (C-Major) – the one that begins with an extended pedal solo, which Eric executed with panache.

The next player was Boyd Herforth, whose first selection was the Overture to the oratorio Saul by George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) – not, as indicated in the program, a piece by Kloppers based on the same. The overture, like many other transcriptions found in old collections, was arranged by W. T. Best, whose initials, Boyd remarked, must stand for “Was The.”

Boyd’s second piece was indeed by Jacobus Kloppers, a South African composer now living in Canada, but it was not the one listed in the program. Instead it was a series of variations on the tune “King’s Weston.” The moods of the variations were derived from the well-known text “At the Name of Jesus.” Kloppers, the subject of a lecture-demonstration which Boyd presented to the chapter in February 2007, is not widely known, but his music is definitely worth hearing.

Merellyn Gallagher, formerly the organist at Grace Church, showed off the Beckerath’s colors with three short pieces. The first, a Trio by Raison, displayed the reeds; the second was a gentle meditation on the flutes; and the third was a richly varied rendition of the tune we know as “All Glory, Laud and Honor.” Merellyn’s playing was, as always, impeccable.

Susan Guse followed, with the contemporary composer Piet Post’s Variations on NICAEA (the tune best known as “Holy, Holy, Holy”). The transitions between the short sections of this piece might have been accomplished more seamlessly on an electro-mechanical organ, or at least one with pistons, but Susan took full advantage of the organ’s tonal resources.

The next player was Robert D. Brown. We have not heard him in the past, and he began by thanking John Sullivan, who taught the recent course on preparing for the AGO Service Playing Examination, for giving him the confidence to play in public for the first time. He played a chorale by Samuel Scheidt, providing a handout with the melody by Martin Luther, so the audience could follow along. Rob acquitted himself very well, and I hope we will hear more from him.

We were glad to welcome Jan Piet Knijff, a member of four AGO chapters (but not ours – yet!) He played Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in D Major, which begins with an ascending D Major scale in the pedal. There is very little reverberation in the room, so every note stood out with crystal clarity. The registrations were necessarily a bit spare, but the structure of the piece was beautifully evident.

Closing the main part of the program was chapter Dean John Sullivan, who played the Fugue in E-Flat (St. Anne) by J. S. Bach. John, a recent FAGO, gave a wonderful performance of this familiar piece.

After John finished, he conducted a very brief business meeting, in which he announced the results of the recent election of officers, as follows: Dean, Gregory Citarella; Sub-Dean, Beverly Simmons; Treasurer, Eric R. Hepp; Secretary, Nancy DeMilio-Scott; Members-at-Large, Charles Faverio, Nancy Harle, Maris Kristapsons, Craig S. Williams, and Robert D. Brown. He then turned over the program to the new Dean, Gregory Citarella, who presented John with a framed certificate of appreciation for all he has done to promote and develop the chapter. We will miss John very much, and we wish him much happiness as he relocates to Maine.

To end the recital, Gregory Citarella led the congregation in the hymn “The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended,” using the version from the 1940 hymnal (re-printed in the program) because it includes a verse omitted from the 1982 hymnal. It is wonderful to have a congregation made up of mostly musicians – the singing is so good!

In deference to Father’s Day, no reception was provided, but people still stood around talking for quite a while afterward. It was altogether a very pleasant afternoon, and I look forward to our next program, a Choral Evensong at Christ Church, Poughkeepsie, in September.

Note: Anyone wishing to view or download the complete recital program may click here or visit http://www.chvago.org/Members_Recital_Pgm_2007_Revised.pdf.

NYTOS, North Jersey AGO Join John Baratta in Outreach to Schools

John Baratta, professional theatre and classical organist, organ teacher, and retired high school band director, has set a plan in motion to expose school children to the grandeur of the King of Instruments. With security, insurance, parental permission, and funding issues, it’s very difficult and expensive to take school students on field trips to visit a real pipe organ in a theatre. So, in conjunction with the North Jersey AGO chapter and the New York Theatre Organ Society (NYTOS), John proposed purchasing an electronic “traveling organ”. “If you can’t bring the audience to the instrument, bring the instrument to the audience,” he says.

John’s proposal was met with enthusiasm by the NYTOS Board, and a used Allen 3-manual theatre organ (which also features classical sounds) was located and purchased. NYTOS board member John Vanderlee has become the “equipment guy” and the “perpetual mover” for the project. Funding for the trial programs (moving expenses, etc) has been provided by the AGO (North Jersey chapter).
While John Vanderlee was readying the equipment, John Baratta was honing his plan. He felt that the best result would come from a program focused at music students in the public schools. “They are the ones who already have exhibited an interest in music”, says John, “and they are most likely to respond favorably.” He also felt that his proposed program should be formatted as part of the regular music classroom day, not as a special assembly type arrangement.

John drew up his “lesson plans” and put together a cohesive 30-minute live program which exposes the novice to how pipe organs work and what a digital version sounds like playing theatre and classical music. Students get to handle real pipes and understand a diagram of the parts of a pipe organ. They hear John play both theatre and classical styles of music. Each piece is specifically chosen to demonstrate a concept and to appeal to the youngsters. The lesson is repeated for a new group of students in each period of the school day. John also invites anyone interested to come back at the end of the day to try out the Allen individually, and he provides lists of qualified organ teachers in their area.

A trial version of this program was launched in late May 2007, covering one high schoolin the Poughkeepsie area and three in New Jersey. Over 1,000 teenage musicians have been exposed to the “King of Instruments.” At every school there have been at least half a dozen inquiries about taking organ lessons.

In preparation for expanding the program in the 2007-2008 school year, a video is being prepared for presentation to school music faculties. Endorsements are being solicited from the music staff of the trial schools. A networking effort is being put in place among organists and school music professionals to spread the word. Ads are being prepared for organ publications to solicit funds to help expand the program.

While dead tired at the end of a long day at one of the test schools, John Baratta was all smiles. John Vanderlee was also beaming. “This is the most satisifying thing I’ve done with organs since getting the Wurlitzer at the Bardavon Theatre going” he said. “It’s great!”

Adapted from an article by Allen Trav

Note: Photos illustrating this article are available on our web site at www.chvago.org on the Photo Gallery page.

Directions to the Chapter Picnic

Southbound from Mid-Hudson Bridge:

Take Rte 9 South for 9 miles, past IBM, shopping malls, and car dealers. Move to the left lane when you get to B.J.'s Wholesale Club. Turn LEFT (East) onto CR-28 [OLD HOPEWELL RD] and proceed for 2.6 miles. Turn LEFT (North) onto CR-94 [ALL ANGELS HILL RD] for 0.7 miles. Turn RIGHT (East) onto BROWN RD. Stay on BROWN RD, which curves to the left (other roads go straight and to the right). Turn LEFT (North-West) onto MONTROSE LANE (2nd left turn). Look for the 6th house on the right. The driveway is 10 feet past the Dead End sign.

Northbound from Newburgh-Beacon Bridge:

Take NY Rte-9D North for 5.25 miles. Turn RIGHT onto CR-28 [OLD HOPEWELL RD] - landmark: bright pink doll shop on left at traffic light. Continue on CR-28, crossing NY Rte 9, for 3.68 miles. Turn LEFT onto CR-94 [ALL ANGELS HILL RD] - landmark: old white farmhouse with picket fence on far left corner at traffic light. Continue for 0.67 miles. Turn RIGHT onto BROWN RD. Stay on BROWN RD, which curves to the left (other roads go straight and to the right). Turn LEFT (North-West) onto MONTROSE LANE (2nd left turn). Look for the 6th house on the right. The driveway is 10 feet past the Dead End sign.

Westbound from Taconic Parkway:

Take the exit for NY-Rte 82 South toward Hopewell Junction. Continue on Rte 82 for 1.68 miles. Turn RIGHT onto CREAMERY RD and proceed for 0.96 miles. Turn RIGHT onto CR-29/ CLOVE BRANCH RD and proceed for 0.89 miles. Turn LEFT onto NY-376 and proceed for 0.38 miles past Van Wyck Jr. High School. At next traffic light, turn LEFT onto LAKE WALTON RD and proceed for 1.27 miles. Turn RIGHT onto BROWN RD and proceed for 0.39 miles. Turn RIGHT onto MONTROSE LN (2nd right turn). Look for the 6th house on the right. The driveway is 10 feet past the Dead End sign.

Deadline for Next Newsletter

We are always glad to receive input for the chapter newsletter in the form of calendar items, reviews of recent concerts and events, biographies, letters, photographs, etc. In order to make sure these submissions can be processed in a timely fashion, please make sure they are received by the 23rd of each month. You may submit newsletter material by mail, e-mail, or phone. Just contact the editor, Susan LaGrande, using the information given below. Remember, the deadline for the next newsletter, to be available the first week in September, is August 23rd.

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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