Central Hudson Valley Chapter, AGO

Chapter News

December 2010

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Dear Colleagues,

Now that Advent is upon us and Christmas is not far behind, it is time to take a deep breath and think about spending just a little bit of time doing something for ourselves as well. If you enjoy this season as much as I do you might be looking for a concert or two that you can simply attend. (Imagine not having to worry about who didn’t show up for rehearsal or who left their music at home.) I’m sure you are all aware of concerts in the area and our web site can assist you in finding ones that our colleagues are involved in. Do make sure you inform Susan LaGrande about events that should be on our calendar. Just at my church (Trinity, Fishkill) we have three choral events taking place within 8 days! Thankfully I am only involved in one of them since two are outside groups using our facility. You get the picture. There is so much going on you can surely find a concert or musical event you would enjoy. Or if you need a break from music go find something else that will help you enjoy this time of year – maybe cutting your own Christmas tree with your family. Whatever it is, enjoy!

As church musicians we know the necessity of planning ahead. And so I would ask you to take a moment and think whether you have an anthem or two in your library that you think the rest of us might enjoy hearing. If so, you need to contact Laura Russell (845-485-1648) to let her know that you would like to present an anthem or two at our anthem reading session on January 23. We will meet at 3 PM at Christ Church. But you MUST let Laura know you are interested in doing this BEFORE January 9. At that time she will need to know exactly which pieces you want to do. But why not contact her NOW and at least express your interest in presenting an anthem or two. If you are not interested in presenting an anthem then please come (and invite interested choir members) and be part of the "choir" that will sing through these pieces so we can all get some ideas of pieces we might like for our choirs. If you are presenting, you will need to bring copies from your library for us to use that afternoon. All copies that you bring will then go back home with you. An information sheet will be available with ordering information for any you might wish to purchase. So call or email Laura NOW while you are thinking of it!

Michael Barone, host of Pipedreams, is asking for our help. I recently received an email from AGO Headquarters from which I quote below:
Though we might imagine that, after 28+ years on the air, American Public Media’s PIPEDREAMS is a known quantity to everyone, in reality it’s not. And even though the internet offers a convenient, time-independent access point for online PIPEDREAMS listening (18,500 discrete users monthly), the largest audience by far is reached through radio broadcast transmissions (over 220,000 weekly).

You can help increase awareness of the country's only nationally distributed organ music radio broadcast…and, in doing so, increase public awareness of and interest in organ music! Simply include some basic promotional information in available cost-free outlets. Think of this action as being as important as listing the date and time of your own performance event in a PR release.

Where/When? In any and every program you print for any local organ recital you sponsor or perform; also in church bulletins or newsletters, particularly in a week for which you are planning some special organ music. Make this a regular ‘insertion,’ so that the message has a chance to ‘sink in.’ (As most of you know Pipedreams is on WMHT (88.7 fm) radio on Sunday evenings from 8-10.)

Remember, too, that your local public radio station is likely to continue broadcasts of PIPEDREAMS if the station’s administration knows that you really listen and provide crucial membership support. When you pledge local station support, always mention PIPEDREAMS. Lacking feedback, the station might be excused for thinking no one cares. When you make your pledge to WMHT or some other radio station that carries Pipedreams remember to mention that you enjoy the program. It could make a big difference!

So I wish each of you a very good journey through Advent and a Blessed Christmas. To our Jewish friends, Happy Chanukah! I hope to see you soon at one of the many concerts in the area.

Beverly Simmons, SPC
Dean, Central Hudson Valley AGO

My Visit to Notre Dame de Paris – by Joseph Bertolozzi

I was going to be in Paris on Sunday, November 7, so I wrote to both Notre Dame Cathedral and titular organist Olivier Latry's management company and asked permission to go up to the loft during Mass. I received word back from management that there are 4 titular organists who rotate duties [one from each of the 4 districts in Paris...different from the 20 arrondissements], and that Philip LeFebvre would be on duty that weekend. So I wrote to him directly and he wrote back directly, very graciously providing the info on how to gain access to the loft that morning.

I arrived in the pouring rain at 6:35 AM, went to my rented apartment, shaved, changed outfit and got to the Cathedral as the 9 AM Mass was ending. I was met by Monsieur Lefebvre's wife who took me up the spiral staircase to the loft. Upon exiting the stone staircase you are greeted in the face by a dragon-gargoyle of some ilk snarling at you, and you enter an ante-room that holds the Cavaille-Coll console that we see in pictures of Pierre Cochereau, Louis Vierne, etc.

Then you enter the organ loft proper. It is uncluttered and open, with benches against the case for visitors. When I arrived several other visitors were already there, seemingly well-known to the organist. He greeted me right away in pretty flawless English, then excused himself to go play the Processional Music. (See pictures on our Photos web page.)

As you may know, there are two organists during Mass, one up at the altar to accompany the choir, a stunningly professional and beautiful sounding choir I must say, almost unreal...and the organist at the Grand Orgue in the back under the rose window, where I was.

This organist’s duties consist of playing an intrada or processional music (Mass begins with a choral introit/motet, after which the Grand Orgue plays the intrada music to accompany the clergy and altar servers from the side of the church, winding their way under the organ loft and back up to the front altar. This can take about 4-6 minutes). Then he plays the Kyrie, Gloria and Psalm in alternation with the choir and altar organ, sits it out till Communion and then a Postlude. There are no hymns.

He was very gracious and would talk to his guests, including me, when he wasn't playing, showing this or that, answering questions, or relaxing in his private room. Nice gig!

He doesn't play repertoire during Mass, only improvisations, which I suppose partly explains the lack of clutter.

There were a few items of particular note I will relate, and then if you are interested, I'd suggest you go to the wonderfully complete website (available in English) for Note Dame. They list all the organists, give some bios, and provide terrific pix and specs of all the organs over the centuries.

There are a few items I'll digest for you that were of particular interest to me:
• The organ is computer action: not tracker, electric, pneumatic, etc. but computer. There are sensors under the keys that trigger the pallets. It can be faster than electric action, but one can adjust the speed at which it responds, so if you are used to a little delay, you can program it that way.
• There are huge cherub faces carved under three of the towers, but there are two towers whose faces are noticeably and violently hacked away. I was told that they weren't cherub faces but royal coat-of-arms. During the French Revolution, the mob was going around defiling churches and taking the pipes out of organs to melt them down for bullets. When the organist at the time saw them heading for the cathedral, he ran up to the loft {he and his organ-pumper-boy too I suppose} and began playing La Marseillaise. Happy to hear that music, the mob rejoiced and spared the organ, but they chopped away the coat of arms. During all subsequent restorations of the organ, those spots have always been left in their damaged state as a reminder of the Cathedral's history.

Photos are available for you enjoy on our Photos web page.

Bien cordialement,

Joseph Bertolozzi

Review of Amenia Organ Tour by Joanne Reed

The Amenia Historic Organs Tour on October 30th turned out to be a wonderful afternoon for the lucky people who attended. Will Carter was the host, who gave a short lecture at each church before playing the instrument, assisted by Matt Finlay, trumpet, at two locations.

At the first church, St. Thomas Episcopal, we saw and heard a J.H. and C.S. Odell cabinet organ, dated to between 1859-1869. This organ was purchased by St. Thomas in 1888 from Jardine, and at that time a 20-note small flat pedalboard was added for $500. The manual on this organ has 58 notes.

Then we went to the Church of the Immaculate Conception, where the 1865 Jardine organ. is considered to be "the most original antique organ in the area." Here the current choir, directed by Regina Syversen, joined in the presentation for us, singing "Gloria" from Mass of the Bells by Alexander Peloquin.

At the United Presbyterian Church we heard an 1871 Jardine organ, and current singers from the church, led by Heidi Johnson, singing Mozart's "Alleluia" from Exultate, Jubilate. The souvenir program tells us that shortly after completing this instrument Jardine began work on the Grand Organ for the new St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York.

The fourth and last church and organ was The Smithfield Church which has an 1893 organ by Johnson & Son which they rescued from a church in Kent, Ct. in 2008.

This was an enchanting afternoon, not just because we heard some wonderful music on engaging instruments, but also because a little bit of yesteryear crept into our experience to make it seem a bit like sitting in the pews of yore.

Another Source for Hearing Organ Music

Organlive.com is an Internet audio station dedicated to the music of the classical organ. Listeners simply need one click at www.organlive.com to hear the broadcast through a wide variety of players. Listeners may browse the entire library searching by work, composer, organist, album, or organ and request tracks to be played. The station has been continually funded by the listeners, and an annual budget covering all operating expenses is raised every spring. Organlive is always accepting submissions for new music from organists, composers, and publishers. To listen to Organlive, or for more information on submitting your music, visit www.organlive.com. For more info, contact Brent Johnson at 314-496-1278.

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. However, material such as calendar items may be submitted at any time; even if the material may not make it into the printed newsletter, it can be quickly posted on our web site at www.chvago.org.

You may submit newsletter or web site material by mail, e-mail, fax or phone. Just contact the editor, Susan LaGrande, using the information given above. Remember, the deadline for the next printed newsletter, to be available the first week in January, is December 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

Website by Dan Long