Dear Colleagues and Friends:
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Here we are in August! The “Dog Days” of summer are upon us. The heat and humidity levels have been rather nasty of late. Very soon autumn will turn down the heat. Our summer fun will be fleeting. The days will grow shorter. Many of us are already in preparation mode for the autumn choir season and our chapter calendar of events.
There are many changes on the horizon that face all of us as Americans. There are rising energy prices for home heating and transportation. This will affect our grocery bills and what if any extra cash we might have to spend on something a “little extra”. Whatever that “extra” is might be small or even nonexistent. We will be facing many changes in upcoming political elections. Yes, indeed there are many changes coming at us. Like the Nationwide Insurance Commercial slogan, “Life Comes at you fast…be ready.” Truly an understatement!
I am asking myself as a church musician who serves God, His People and His Church: “What am I doing to help people deal with change in their lives?” Then I ask: “Is it my responsibility to extend that helping hand of change?” My answer to both is a definite “Yes!”
Without a doubt you have read my recent Dean’s Letters in this space and have seen some of the scriptural or psalm quotes; perhaps my prayers and wishes for all of us; and yes you have even seen the phrase “…we are all a part of the web of life…”. Indeed we are all involved in this web of changes outlined above because they affect all of us. That’s my point. What are you doing to cope with these changes and in turn help others cope as well. How are you weaving the fabric of your own design?
I am going to challenge you to extend your hand of welcome when your church will have its homecoming celebration after the long summer. Many of your church and synagogue congregants were away on vacation. Between June and September there were many changes in their lives. Maybe Johnny won awards for swimming; maybe Andrea took her first airplane ride with mom and dad to visit family. These are all changes and milestones. The list could go on for days.
What are you doing to help? I would suggest that planning your fall music right up to and including (dare I say it?!?!?!?) Christmas will help set the tone. Perhaps playing a prelude based on the first hymn of the day is a help. Maybe playing a familiar hymn for the congregation to sing can be of comfort. Just being there as a familiar face and leaning over to listen to someone express their excitement over their vacation is a great step forward.
As organists we are relegated to various parts of the church where people may not see us or know us. I am lucky at St. Nicholas-on-the-Hudson. The organ is situated right by the narthex door. When people walk in I am warmly greeted. Not so in all church or synagogue venues. You might be behind a screen or in a lower section of the chancel/sanctuary. You might even be in a lofty environment of a balcony. In any case my suggestion and wish is that you get out and “press the flesh” as many politicians are doing these days to get each of our votes. Welcome people to the organ balcony or behind the screen. Show children how the King of Instruments can be quiet as a church mouse and roar with the excitement of the universe.
Reach out beyond your wall of comfort and say “Hello” to the members of your congregation. Be aware of your surroundings. Know who you are serving as a minister of music in God’s Holy Temple. Be an ambassador for the instrument that you devote so much time to. Let people know that you too are a part of the web of life! Be a part, a very big part of the celebration of liturgy and worship.
This is the “International Year of the Organ”. We all need to “press the flesh” and be known to those whom we serve and give so much to and receive much back from. Consider placing a short commentary about the organ in the weekly service leaflet. Describe the organ in your words. Set up an Organ Expo at coffee hour. Tell people how you were attracted to the instrument. Give them a funny side to your experiences as an organist. Give a human touch so that you can continue weaving your fabric, your very own tartan in the community of faith to which you serve. Be Passionate!
On September 20, 2008 at 2:00 – 4:00 PM we will be hosting Dr. Victoria Sirota who wrote “Preaching to the Choir”. Dr. Sirota will be discussing and answering questions regarding Clergy and Organist relations. This event is opened to all organists and all clergy. Dr. Sirota is a concert organist and an ordained Episcopal Priest. The workshop will take place where our sub-dean, Beverly Simmons, serves as organist and choirmaster: Trinity Episcopal Church, located at 1200 Main Street, Fishkill NY 12524. This will be a very informative afternoon. Please make every effort to be present. Extend invitations to as many clergy as you know. Bring non-chapter musicians too. All are welcome to attend.
Included below is the beautiful thank you note from Kathleen Funk-Pearson for the certificate of appreciation which she received from our chapter. Kathleen and her late husband Donald were charter members of our chapter. She was very excited and sent her best wishes to all. I owe Kay a phone call now that I think of it.
On a somber note, I know many of you saw the e-mail notification which I forwarded regarding the sudden and tragic death of Jonathan K. Weaver, son of Dr. John and Marianne Weaver. You will remember Dr. Weaver gave a phenomenal recital during our Region II Convention in 2005 at the Poughkeepsie Reformed Church where Dr. Jack Davis serves as organist and choir director. I sent a note of condolence on behalf of our chapter membership to the Weavers along with a perpetual mass card remembering their son Jonathan. Our hearts and prayers remain with the Weavers, their family and extended family of friends during this most difficult time in their lives. God’s Healing Love be with them.
Our chapter membership wishes a very Happy 85th Birthday to Dr. Jack Davis. All the best and God’s continued Blessings and Grace to Jack.
Recently, I visited with Ray Corey who is at the Castle Point Veteran’s Hospital. We had a very nice visit. Ray has a great wit and sense of humor. He kept me smiling through various accounts on being an organist during his career. Plus the numerous jokes he confided in me that he told to some of the nurses. Please add Ray, his wife Heather and their family to your daily prayers and at church. There is nothing like the power of prayer.
In recent letters I have signed off in this space by quoting scripture. This past weekend I attended a Native American POW WOW at Bear Mountain State Park, New York. I saw and met many people whose ancestors descend from those great peoples who first walked this land. I saw something which caught my eye. It was on a magnet and it seems to fit at this moment of great change. So, instead of quoting scripture I offer the following:
“May the Great Spirit watch over you,
for he knows the paths you walk
and he will guide your footsteps gently.”
I remain in His and Your Service…
Soli Deo Gloria
Gregory J. Citarella+
Letter from Kay Pearson
1137 Cameo Court
Ft. Myers, FL 33908-1606
July 20, 2008
Dear Greg and Central Hudson AGO Friends:
You can’t imagine my total surprise upon receiving this heavy package in the mail! I couldn’t imagine what it could be and pondered for a while before opening it. When I saw it, I was so excited that I would be remembered in my 90’s by an organization that was full of people who could be honored for similar service. And then when I read Greg’s beautiful letter it brought tears to my eyes.
Don and I moved to Florida in November of 1988 and we became members of the Southwest Florida Chapter of the AGO. Since then I’ve been in active service down here in organ performance, chamber music and choral direction until July of 2004. This was five months after Don died when I became legally blind. I can no longer accept any positions, but I’m grateful I’m able to continue to live independently in Shell Point Retirement Community in the same apartment Don and I moved into 20 years ago.
Thank you so much for this honor, I treasure it because my husband Don and I were two of the charter members of the Chapter and I was either first or second Dean. I hope you will continue you wonderful work in honoring the many others in our chapter who are deserving.
Kathleen Funk Pearson
- Merrelyn Gallagher as accepted a position as interim organist at Lyall Memorial Federated Church in Millbrook.
- Ray Corey is still at Castle Point VA Hospital in Beacon, now under Hospice Care. He would very much appreciate visitors, although his ability to converse is limited. Now that Ray is no longer playing, his family has the following instruments available for sale:
For more information, contact Heather Corey at 845-229-0359 and leave a message.
- Viscount electronic 2-manual organ, self-contained, four years old, roll-top cover, bench. Transposer, 6 memory ranks, 7 temperaments, and one expression pedal. Asking &8,000. Removal at buyer’s expense.
- Kawai console piano, 42-inch, with bench. About seven years old. Terrific shape. Asking $2,000. Removal at buyer’s expense.
- Adjustable upholstered piano bench. Never been used. Asking $300.
This newsletter is published by the Central Hudson Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. The editor is:
12 Montrose Lane
Wappingers Falls, NY 12590
Phone: 845-226-6496 (home) - Fax: 845-226-1035