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In This Issue
From the Dean
From the Editor
POEA Report
Members From the Past
Can You Identify This Member from the Past?
  Keith S. Tóth, Dean - NYC Chapter, American Guild of Organists

From the Dean

Dear Colleagues,


Another hot and humid summer is now behind us. Even so, I hope that this summer has provided you with abundant rest and relaxation and that you are now refreshed and ready to greet the new season.

Although summer is usually a quieter time for most of us, this summer has been quite busy for the AGO and especially for the New York City Chapter. I was delighted to see so many of our chapter’s members at the National Convention in Washington, DC in early July. The District of Columbia chapter is to be congratulated for presenting such a successful and sold-out convention. No less significant, our chapter presented a fabulous Pipe Organ Encounter Advanced (POEA) during July 18-23. The students all benefited from fine instruction, fine organs, and fine camaraderie. On behalf of the chapter, I extend heartfelt gratitude to our POEA director, Paul J. Murray, his committee and all the teachers, chaperones, and venues that made this worthy adventure so successful.

Your Board has also been quite active this summer. Sub-Dean David Enlow and his Program Committee (John Cantrell, Dr. John T. King and Nigel Potts) presented to the Board at its July meeting an exciting roster of events for the 2010-2011 season. I am pleased to inform you that the Board unanimously received the report of the Program Committee. These events have already been sent to you in a special late summer newsletter. You may learn more about these upcoming events in this newsletter, at the chapter’s website, and at the chapter’s Facebook group. I commend David and his committee on creating an exciting and active season. I encourage you all to place these events on your calendar now. You will not want to miss a single event!

In closing, please accept my very best wishes to you as we all begin another season of hard work and great music. I look forward to seeing you at our first chapter event, Ken Cowan’s dedicatory recital on the new Schoenstein organ at St. James’ Episcopal Church, on Sunday, October 17 at 3pm.

Respectfully yours,

Keith S. Tóth

David Enlow FAGO, Juilliard Faculty
From the Editor

I received the following letter from Michael Barone, producer of Pipedreams:


I just learned what some of you may have experienced, that since July PIPEDREAMS has been broadcast ONLY on Sunday evenings, now commencing at 10PM (only one hour, still).

Please pass this information on to your members.

When I enquired of the program manager at QXR what it would take to get them to carry both hours, he indicated that if there was a sudden surge of listener-numbers....

Well, to make that happen, perhaps you would consider this below. If everyone in the chapter would place a little announcement in their church newsletters (occasionally) and on the backs of any organ recital or organ-related concert that they sponsor (always!), word would start to get around. After all, those promotional outlets are free.

Thanks for your help!


To all AGO Chapter Deans and Newsletter Editors:

Please forgive the ‘mass mail’ format of this communication. I would like to offer a suggestion that I encourage you to share with all of your AGO chapter members, perhaps in the first of your chapter autumn newsletters in September.

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 PIPEDREAMS listening, the largest audience by far still is reached through radio broadcast transmissions.

You can help increase awareness of the country's only nationally distributed organ music radio broadcast…an in doing so, increase public awareness of and interest in organ music!

Simply include some basic promotional information in likely 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 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.

What? Consider this brief paragraph:

Enjoy organ music in its infinite variety each week on PIPEDREAMS from American Public Media, heard on Sunday evenings beginning at 10 p.m. on Manhattan’s WQXR-105.9FM. For more information: www.wqxr.org. Also listen on the internet at any time (24/7) at www.pipedreams.org.

OR: Enjoy organ music on your radio during weekly broadcasts of PIPEDREAMS from American Public Media, presented Sunday evenings beginning at 10 p.m. on Manhattan’s WQXR-105.9FM. For more information: www.wqxr.org. Also listen on the internet at any time (24/7) at www.pipedreams.org.

Why? Take nothing for granted. People interested in the organ music you play may not know about PIPEDREAMS. And people who listen to PIPEDREAMS may well be among the people who show up for your performances….it’s a win-win situation.

How? Find local station information online at: www.pipedreams.org/stations

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.

Thanks for your help!!

Michael Barone

POEA Report

The New York City Chapter hosted a Pipe Organ Encounter Advanced from July 18–23. Twenty-two students from across the United States and Canada came to the Big Apple to study the King of Instruments with some of the country’s finest teachers.

On Sunday afternoon, July 18, after checking into the Saint Thomas Choir School, our headquarters for the week, the students attended a recital presented by Andrew Henderson, Mary Wannamaker Huff, Renée Anne Louprette, Nancianne Parrella, and Stephen Tharp at the Church of Saint Ignatius Loyola. Following the recital, the students enjoyed open console at the Mander organ, before returning to the Choir School for dinner and free time, which included a walking tour of Midtown Manhattan and Times Square.

On Monday morning, the students traveled throughout Manhattan for their private lessons. In the afternoon, the group traveled to First Presbyterian Church, where Dr. William Entriken and Sebastian M. Glück presented a lecture on how organ literature determines the stop list for an organ. Immediately following the lecture, chapter member and POE alumnus John Walthausen, a student at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and winner of the Region II Competition for Young Organists, presented a recital at First Presbyterian Church. At the conclusion of John’s recital, the group traveled to Saint Paul’s German Lutheran Church, where POEA Director, Paul Murray, led a lecture on the fundamentals of chant interpretation. After a pizza dinner, the students enjoyed a unique perspective of New York City from the eighty-sixth floor observatory of the Empire State Building.

On Tuesday, following breakfast and lessons, the group met at Saint Michael’s Episcopal Church, where Dr. Walter Hilse led a hands-on lecture on the analysis of two Bach fugues. Dr. Dennis Keene presented a lecture on choral conducting. POEA students comprised the choir and students volunteered to conduct under Dr. Keene’s tutelage. In the early evening, the group walked ten blocks north to the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, where James Wetzel demonstrated the Great Organ. Following dinner on the Cathedral’s campus, the students heard a brilliant recital by Christopher Creaghan at The Riverside Church, presented as a part of the church’s summer recital series. After Mr. Creaghan’s recital, the students again had an opportunity for open console. Upon returning to the Choir School, the students played an organ trivia game “Who Wants to Be an Organist”, hosted by Paul Murray, along with celebrity panelists, chaperones Raymond Nagem, Kevin Neel, Nicholas Russotto, Leslie Smith, and Fred Teardo.

On Wednesday, the students did not have morning lessons. Instead, they were given a tour of the rare instruments collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which includes the 1830 II/16 Appleton organ. Special thanks to Larry Trupiano, curator of the Appleton organ, for leading the tour and allowing the students to play the organ. Afternoon lectures took place at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, where Dr. Andrew Henderson presented a lecture on French classical organ literature and Mr. David Enlow presented a master class on service playing. A catered buffet dinner was served at the Church of the Holy Family before a hymn festival led by Robert Ridgell. Following the hymn festival, participants had an opportunity to request their favorite hymn. In the course of two and a half hours, nearly fifty hymns were sung.

On Thursday, following their morning lessons, the students participated in two workshops at the Church of the Holy Family: improvisation, led by Mr. McNeil Robinson, and choral accompanying, led by Dr. John King. Mr. David Enlow led a panel discussion on AGO Certification, where the students received useful information on the Guild’s Service Playing and Colleague exams, with the encouragement that they could easily earn one or both certificates. Walking back to the Choir School for a final dinner, the group stopped at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, where Mr. Daniel Brondel, Associate Director of Music at the Cathedral, demonstrated the mighty Kilgen organs. After dinner, the students returned to Fifth Avenue, where Mr. Frederick Teardo played an awe-inspiring recital at Saint Thomas Church, employing both the Arents Memorial Organ and the Loening-Hancock Organ. Open console on both instruments followed the recital.

Early Friday morning, students were packed and moved out of the dorms before traveling to their lessons. After lunch at the Choir School, two student recitals were held simultaneously across 73rd Street, one at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church and the other at Rutgers Presbyterian Church. The two recitals enabled all students to perform. Each performance exhibited first class talent and musicianship. The recitals were the official conclusion of the POEA and students returned home fatigued, having absorbed much during their week in New York City.

Gratitude is expressed to the chaperones, workshop presenters, faculty of the POEA: Daniel Brondel, Dr. Claudia Dumschat, Dr. William Entriken, Dr. Stephen Hamilton, Dr. David Hurd, Dr. Matthew Lewis, Renée Anne Louprette, McNeil Robinson, Stephen Tharp, William Trafka, and Christopher Creaghan, faculty chair; Maria Helena Tharp and Michael Goodman, chaperone coordinators; Dr. Tina Frühauf, coordinator of background checks; Dr. F. Anthony Thurman, chapter treasurer; Mary Wannamaker Huff, POEA registrar; Dr. Andrew Henderson, publicity coordinator; David Enlow, program chair; Cleveland Kersh, food services coordinator; Saint Thomas Choir School, Father Charles Wallace, headmaster, Ruth Cobb, director of admissions, and Heidi Thomas, chef; Frank Crosio, past dean and Keith S. Tóth, current dean who made the POEA a great success for the students and for the chapter.

Paul J. Murray

Director, NYC POEA 2010
Yvonne Sonnenwald-Melin

Members from the Past

James Morris Helfenstein

Featured in last month’s column was James Morris Helfenstein (1865-1953) who, as Organist and Master of the Choir of Grace Church from 1894-1922, was the founder of the church’s Choir of Men and Boys and was the founding Headmaster of the Grace Church Choir School. This was the first choir school in New York and was the prototype for those established later at St. Thomas Church and the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.

Helfenstein had an unlikely background for a church musician. A member of a prominent New York family which descended from Gouverneur Morris (one of the foremost statesmen of the American Revolution who was also in the Continental Congress and Minister to France) he graduated from Yale and Columbia University Law School and held a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. But he was always passionate about church music and frequently traveled to England to observe cathedral and academic choirs there. He came to Grace Church having previously established a similar choir at All Angels Church.

In 1922 in a serious dispute with a member of the vestry of Grace Church over the running of the choir school, he resigned suddenly, and subsequently became Organist and Choirmaster of the Church of the Heavenly Rest.


Can you identify this Member from the Past?

Some recent Members from the Past have been somewhat obscure. Here's one everybody can identify!

The next chapter newsletter is the October 2010 issue. The deadline for submissions is September 15, 2010. Material may be submitted to Neal Campbell, editor. Nine issues are published through the year on a monthly basis with combined issues for December/January, May/June, and July/August. To make changes in your email address or to subscribe to the e-newsletter, please contact Christopher Jennings, registrar.