Central Hudson Valley Chapter, AGO

Chapter News

Newsletter - June 2003

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Letter from the Dean

Will someone PLEASE tell the weather that it's supposed to be sunny and warm by now?

Thanks to everybody who helped with the Members' Recital — not just the performers, but also the folks that do all the 'behind the scenes' work, like selling ads, producing the program (which was fabulous, Susan L!), helping with the reception, getting the word out, coordinating the recital performers, setting up practice times and yes, even attending the concert. As you can see, when we have a chapter event, there's always many things to be done in preparation — things that any chapter member would have the privilege to help with. Please let any board member know if you are available to help with events.

At the Members' Recital, we officially started a Scholarship Fund in Margaret Pecoraro's name. I am happy to say that we have over $600 in the fund to start. We are excited about having a fund to help young organists. Consider a donation to the fund to be an investment in the future of our vocation.

Another opera under my belt — our production of "The Merry Widow" went well, despite the fact that I had to dance. It's nice to do a show in English — not only is it easier to memorize, but it's much better when you know what people are saying as they are saying it!

Our next chapter event will be a "hands-on" workshop on "How to Start a Handbell Choir," with Charles E. Kelley, at the New Hackensack Reformed Church in Wappingers Falls. Charles can be quite entertaining, and I'm sure even you experienced ringers and directors will enjoy his presentation. It's set for 11-1 on Saturday, June 14th. Click here for directions.

It's time once again to renew your membership. By now, you should have received a membership form in the mail. Let's give Mary Caskey, our treasurer a lot of work to do before she heads out on her summer vacation. Seriously, it would make the reporting and recordkeeping much easier if everybody could send in their membership forms by the deadline on June 30th. This is the only way to guarantee that your subscription to the TAO will continue without interruption.

See you in Wappingers Falls for handbells!!

Membership Updates

  • The time has come once again for renewing your AGO membership. This year we will be mailing applications/renewal forms to each member; look for them in your mailbox in a couple of weeks. In order to have your membership registered on time, you must return your completed form, with your check, to Mary Caskey by June 30. Please remember that renewing late can mean an interruption of your subscription to The American Organist magazine, because of a three-month offset in the publishing schedule.

    Please also consider inviting a colleague to join our chapter; extra copies of the application form can be obtained by calling Susan LaGrande at 845-226-6496 or by visiting our web site. Our chapter is vital and dynamic now; just think what an impact we can make if we increase our membership! Currently we represent only a fraction of the organists working in churches in the Central Hudson Valley; let's see how many of those we can recruit during this membership campaign.

Dr. Gerre Hancock on Improvising

                By Glenn May and Charles Faverio

Dr. Gerre Hancock, Organist at Trinity Episcopal Church, Fifth Avenue, and Choirmaster at St. Thomas Choir School, recently gave a fascinating talk on Improvising at the Julliard School of Music. His book Improvising — How to Master the Art is published by Oxford University Press, New York, and can be ordered from the Julliard Bookstore. (See acknowledgement below.)

The talk emphasized many of the important points in the book, whose scope is summarized in the list of chapters:

  1. The Scale
  2. The Phrase
  3. The Interlude
  4. The Hymn
  5. The Ornamental Hymn
  6. The Hymn Prelude
  7. The Song Form
  8. The Sonata Form
  9. The Toccata
  10. The Canon
  11. The Duo and the Trio
  12. The Fugue

To quote from the book, "Two axioms might be applied to the art of improvising. The first is Never stop. Accidents will inevitably happen; if and when they do, keep playing even if it is only a trill." He gave the example of the Pastor interrupting a difficult Prelude by saying the keys to the Robe Closet were lost and asking where the substitute keys were located. He advised "keep playing something." "The second axiom is Salvation is never more than a half step away." Often, "a dissonance vanishes with ease when each of the two voices is moved apart by only a half step."

Some of the recommendations in part include:

  1. Practice each step until fully mastered.
  2. As you master each step thoroughly, begin to combine the steps.
  3. Remember that the hymn tune itself is the focal point and must be treated with care.
  4. Remember the congregation at all times. It should be alerted as to which stanza will be reharmonized, either in the service bulletin or by the way you customarily begin the improvised stanzas (perhaps by playing the first few notes -- or even the entire first phrase, if it is short -- in octaves).

Dr. Hancock ends with these words of advice: "Practice regularly and frequently. Begin simply. Expand boldly. Enjoy your craft as your listeners will surely enjoy your music. A whole musical universe awaits you."

                Gerre Hancock
                Improvising: How to Master the Art
                © 1994 Oxford University Press, Inc.
                Used by permission. All rights reserved

St Thomas Choir School at Albany Convention

In addition to Judith and Gerre Hancock, who are featured performers and presenters at the convention, representatives of the Choir School, including the Headmaster, Gordon Roland-Adams, will attend the convention. Visit their exhibit to meet the Headmaster and receive information on the Choir School, including CDs, videos, and view books. The Choir School will also host the "Afterglow" hospitality event following the recital given by Judith and Gerre Hancock on Sunday evening.

The Top 10 Reasons for Attending Albany AGO 2003

Forwarded by Agnes Armstrong for the Eastern New York Chapter

REASON NUMBER TEN: Do-able Dates - 29 June to 2 (3) July 2003
    REASON NUMBER NINE: Lovely Location (New York State's nearby Capital Region)
        REASON NUMBER EIGHT: Outstanding Organs with Phenomenal Players
            REASON NUMBER SEVEN: Big Bang for Your Bucks
                REASON NUMBER SIX: Wonderful Workshops
                    REASON NUMBER FIVE: Congenial Colleagues and Harmonious Hospitality
                        REASON NUMBER FOUR: Scintillating Speakers
                            REASON NUMBER THREE: Joining-in Jongen
                                 REASON NUMBER TWO: Choirs and Commissions
                        You get to help Agnes Armstrong write the daily newsletter!
Who knows? If you keep her company until midnight (when the newsletter gets printed) she might even buy you a drink!

Instruments Available

  • A beautiful Estey Reed Organ, #398004, style G, two-manual with full pedals. This beautifully restored instrument needs an appreciative new setting. Currently residing in Lancaster, PA, it was in four churches in New England since leaving the factory in 1914. It comes complete with pipe top, bench, electric blower with spare pedal reeds and assorted tools. It must be played to be fully appreciated. Click here to view color photos of the instrument. If interested in further details or purchase, call Dan Foster at 717-396-6775 or 717 665-2133
  • Lowery Organ, TLOK - SHZ60, two manuals, 1/2 pedal board. Tape player, for recording purposes. Rhythm stops. No charge. Contact Erik Korby, 845-897-5435, until June 16, or Johanna Korby Jolly, 845-298-1252, thereafter.
  • Upright Piano, manufactured in Canada circa 1956. At least 48 inches high. Very good tone, excellent bass, no water marks or stains, and good condition and tune. Very good practice instrument. Contact Richard Eaton at 845-298-6149. Asking $300. Current owner is leaving for Canada in June.

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
All material in this newsletter (except for lists of members' addresses and phone numbers) is available on our web site at www.chvago.org

Newsletter Items Wanted

Contributions to this newsletter are always welcome. We have been very pleased to offer a member profile in previous issues. If you would like to be profiled, you may write your own biography (up to 500 words) or contact the editor to arrange an interview.

We also solicit news of upcoming events for our Calendar page, as well as reviews, particularly of recent chapter events. Articles and news items may be submitted to the editor by mail or by e-mail at the address above. Articles may be edited for length or clarity.

About Our Web Site

We are certainly pleased with the response to our web site, and we encourage everyone to visit it frequently to keep up with periodic updates and improvements. Once again this newsletter (as well as previous issues) is available on the web site. However, please be aware that while the entire text of the newsletter is reproduced on the web site, some sections have been split off into separate web pages. For example, the List of Substitutes is accessible from the Home Page by clicking on the "Sub List" button. This not only avoids duplication of this information across multiple issues of the newsletter, but also makes it easier for a visitor to find it.

Be sure to spread the word about our web site among fellow organists, other musicians, students, and members of the clergy, so that our web site can serve as wide an audience as possible.

Website by Dan Long