Dear Colleagues and Friends:
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Welcome to Lent! Did you ever wonder where the word “Lent” came from? As organists we understand what it means in a musical sense. We know the type hymns that will be sung during this time of year. We know the type of pre- and postlude music that will be selected. But have you ever given real thought as to the word “Lent” and its origins? The word comes from Teutonic origins which mean “Spring.” “Lent” is known as a shortened version of the word “Lengthen.” Truly in our northern hemispherical point of view, yes indeed the days are lengthening with more sunlight. Just think of our brothers and sisters who live in the southern hemisphere. Easter is celebrated in an autumnal, almost winter-like manner. Kind of like our Christmas.
Lent, in Christian denominations, is the forty-day liturgical season of fasting and prayer before Easter. The forty days represent the time Jesus spent in the desert, where, according to the Bible, he endured temptation by Satan. Lent, like Advent, is a time of reflection, contemplation, sacrifice and prayer.
Easter in turn is just around the corner. This year, thankfully, Easter is not early. April 12 is Easter. Have you begun to practice those Easter Anthems? What about learning Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” to be sung by your congregation? What are the hymns you will sing on that joyous Easter Sunday?
Sit down with pen in hand and begin to map out your approach to this season of lengthening, fasting and prayer. Look into your musical soul and see what you can bring forth that will be uniquely different than in previous years. I have been discussing with other musicians and clergy about happenings at their respective churches. Not too surprising that attendance is up in many churches and synagogues. The uneasy global economic meltdown might have something to do this occurrence. Maybe! Then again, maybe not. There are changes in the air.
As your dean I would like to challenge each of you to listen to the discussions at coffee hours, vestry / church meetings; listen to choir members in a closer rigor so as to understand better what you and they can do to bring people closer to God through music. What can you do that will make a difference in one person’s life to move them to be prepared for Easter Sunday this April 12? Ask yourself how your journey as a Musician, your journey as a Christian and your journey as a Child of God can make a difference in the community of faith you serve.
Remember the old TV Commercial for Yellow Pages? “Let your fingers do the walking?” Or better yet; “Reach out and touch someone!”? See how best you can reach out and touch someone’s soul with your music. Let your fingers do the walking on “The King of Instruments,” the greatest instrument which man has ever devised. Remember our instrument is known as “Bach’s Royal Instrument.” See what you can do about making this Lent and Easter a time to broaden your musical palate. Let people hear your voice through the Organ!
Early in February a dozen or so colleagues met at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Wappingers Falls for “Gospel Music and the Worship Experience” presented by our colleague, Celestine Campbell. Celestine gave an excellent presentation and overview with “hands on” experience accompanying at the piano and singing! There were numerous resources for us to peruse; hymnals, octavos and CD’s. I myself now have my own copy of the “African American Heritage Hymnal”. A new resource added to my ever growing and ever burgeoning hymnal and musical library. Again, thank you Celestine! Bethel is blest to have your prayerful and musical expertise.
On Sunday, February 22, 2009 I attended Patricia Maimone’s “farewell” and Steeple Benefit recital at St. Mary-in-the-Highlands, Cold Spring NY. The event was to commemorate G. F. Handel’s 324th Birthday! The program was well rounded with numerous soloists who Pat has worked with over the years here in the valley of the Hudson! Pat has moved to the West Coast to be closer to family. Understandably we will miss Pat. Remember though, through technology and the click of a mouse button we can remain connected. A big Thank You goes out to Pat for her years of dedication and service to God, His Church and His People. Pat will have dual membership with our chapter and the Los Angeles chapter AGO! We wish Pat Godspeed and many years of happiness in her new home in California and Mount Olive Lutheran Church. Thank you Pat for your Friendship, Collegial and Professional support!
Well, my friends, I have said enough. I usually like to sign off with something to let you ponder or maybe pray on. Remember ours is a Ministry of Music. We are unique in that we bring the word of God to his people through music. I remember watching a program on PBS years ago entitled: “The Joy of Bach” with Brian Blessed portraying Herr Bach himself! This was all the rage when it was released in 1980! There is a phrase in the program that is attributed to Bach. No one really knows whether or not it was said by Bach. It goes like this:
“Music is my voice and the Organ my pulpit!”
Whether or not Bach said the above is not the point. The point is that you and I know how we relate to the phrase! Let your voice be heard!
On the other hand, Hector Berlioz was asked during an interview what he thought of this man, this wonderful genius, named Bach. Without hesitation Hector Berlioz leaned forward and said with great conviction:
“Bach is Bach as God is God!”
A very Happy Birthday to Herr Bach! Bach is as young and contemporary today as he was when he penned his music which has been passed down through many generations for all to enjoy.
May your days lengthen and grow in your music ministry and in the Love of God
• Lois Hoger is now the organist at St. Timothy Lutheran Church in Hyde Park, where she expects to remain for the foreseeable future.
Organ for Sale
St. James Episcopal Church of Gt. Barrington, Mass., announces the availability of its 57-rank Austin-Andover pipe organ for sale. Needing to have this instrument removed by this May, 2009, we are willing to offer it at what we consider an exceptionally-low price ($25,000, OBO), with the hope that it will soon find a suitable home.
About the organ: Easter Sunday, 1919, saw the dedication of a sizeable new pipe organ at St. James Episcopal Church in the Berkshire town of Great Barrington. The creation of America's most progressive and inventive organ builder, the Austin Company of Hartford, Connecticut, this instrument of fifty- seven ranks, distributed over five divisions and controlled by a console of three manuals and pedal keyboard, featured the industry's most progressive, cutting-edge technology, thus greatly facilitating the rendition of the often- elaborate anthem accompaniments and service music common to Anglican church music of the day, along with solo literature for then-widely-popular organ recitals.
In the 1970's the instrument came to incorporate several "Baroque Revival"-informed tonal changes by the Andover Organ Company, its choir replaced by a "Positiv", with new Great mixtures. In the 1990's the Solo division was completely renovated by Foley & Baker, with the addition of a solo E.M. Skinner Tuba from the First Church, Christian Scientist, of Boston.
With sharply-escalating maintenance/repair costs, St. James undertook a full assessment of its organ situation, leading to the retirement of its Austin-Andover pipe organ in March, 2006. The organ has remained intact, although its 1919 console made its way back to Austin in Hartford, Conn., following its disconnection in March, 2006.
Quine 2- 2/3
Cornet III ranks
Mixtur IV ranks
Plein Jeu V ranks
Lieblich Gedackt 8
English Diapason 8
Vox Setheria 8
Vox Angelica 8
Fern Flute 4
Vox Humana 8
Festival Trumpet 8
Mixture III ranks
Swell, Gallery, Positiv
Windchests: Austin Universal for Gt. and Choir. Other windchests date from the 1970's and 90's.
A large 3-phase blower is also part of the package.
Good News: Pipe Organ Restoration Planned in Quincy, MA
By Lane Lambert - Reprinted from the Patriot Ledger, February 24, 2009
QUINCY - For the Rev. Clifford Brown and longtime members of Christ Church, the pipe organ that once sounded through the sanctuary is an ever-present ghost. The priest and others knew that pipes and assorted pieces of the Episcopal church’s century-old organ still lay in an attic space, but no one thought much about it. Since 1973 the brass-colored great pipes have gleamed silently on one side of the chancel, concealing small speakers that send out music from the electronic organ that sits on the opposite side of the altar area.
Now the church may resurrect its 1897 organ, with the help of two groups dedicated to keeping the “king of instruments” alive and well for worship services throughout New England.
The congregation didn’t know what a treasure it still had until a couple of weeks ago when members of the Boston chapter of the American Guild of Organists and the Father Hugh P. Smyth Archive Society in Quincy visited. They confirmed that most of the Christ Church pipes are in fine condition, and ready to be used again with a new keyboard and “swell case” for the pipes.
“The possibility that we can do this is pretty awesome,” church member and warden Donna Morrison said.
At the time, switching to the Allen electronic organ in the 1970s seemed like an affordable choice for a mid-sized congregation. The addition of electrical pipe controls in the 1930s had created chronic problems with the acoustic organ.
By last year, though, Christ Church’s leaders realized the electronic organ was on borrowed time.
“We knew we had to do something,” the Rev. Brown said.
By coincidence – some would say providence – Ray DiBona of the Smyth Archive Society noticed that an obituary for a church member requested donations to the organ fund. He knew the church once had a pipe instrument built by Woodbury and Harris, a well-known Boston firm in its day, so he arranged a visit by Guild organist Richard Hill of Easton and others from the organ guild.
Hill was the first to climb the step ladder to look at the old pipes, “and there they were,” he said – 13 sets, two-thirds of the original array. Morrison and others assumed they’d been sold when the Allen organ was installed.
Hill and DiBona say it won’t be difficult to replace six missing pipe sets along with the keyboard, air blower and other elements. Organ builders are still active, while pipes and other antique pieces are available from businesses like the Organ Clearing House in Charlestown.
Hill estimates a restoration will cost at least $100,000, but Morrison and the Rev. Brown say that’s an easier expense for the vestry to consider over the next year or two, since they have to replace the electronic organ anyway.
For now, they’re inspired to know that bringing the pipe organ back to life is even an option.
“This would be a wonderful gift to future generations of the church,” the Rev. Brown said.
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 April, is March 23rd.
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