Vol .  62,  No . 5
February 2012

In This Issue
From the Dean
Presidents Day
In Memoriam: Gerre Hancock (1934–2012)
In Memoriam: Bart Harris (1926–2012)
Marie Schumacher
Members from the Past
Can You Identify This Member From the Past?
Saint Thomas Choir School
  Keith S. Tóth - Dean, NYC Chapter, American Guild of Organists
  Keith S. Tóth, Dean

From the Dean

Dear Colleagues,

January and the beginning of a new year have come and gone. Much has happened in the life of the chapter and the greater organ world since my last letter:

The chapter sponsored a wonderful Improvisation Festival on Tuesday, January 17. Kudos to Sub-Dean David Enlow and his program committee for developing and executing this event in such fine fashion. A large gathering was present for the masterclasses given by Bruce Neswick and McNeil Robinson at the handsomely restored church of St. Francis Xavier with its new Peragallo organ. Many thanks to John Uehlein, Director of Music at St. Francis Xavier, for hosting us for these informative classes. Thanks also to Bruce Neswick and McNeil for imparting their extensive knowledge on improvisation to the very eager “students” assembled. David Enlow, James Kennerley, Andrew McKeon, and Liya Petrides were exemplary playing participants in the classes. After a dinner break, all gathered at the Church of St. Mary the Virgin to hear Justin Bischof and Bruce Neswick in a duo improvisation concert that was simply stunning. Thanks to James Kennerley for hosting us for this memorable concert.

In January, the chapter sadly said adieu to two longstanding members, Dr. Gerre Hancock and Bart Harris. Dr. Hancock will long be remembered for his monumental contributions to our profession and for his graciousness bestowed upon us. Bart will be missed at organ recitals and chapter events which he strongly supported with his attendance for many years. The organ world also said goodbye in January to the great Dutch organist, harpsichordist and conductor, Gustav Leonhardt. A pioneer of the early music movement, his influence was far reaching do to his long recital and concert career, teaching, recordings, and publications. Thankfully, Mr. Leonhardt leaves a well documented account of his great career in his recordings that will remain as landmarks for generations to come. May our departed colleagues rest from their labors. They all will be greatly missed!

February now brings us the next event in the life of the chapter, our annual Presidents’ Day Weekend conference on February 19-20. This conference will present some great treasures of the 19th and early 20th century French repertoire. You definitely will not want to miss these events which feature artists both local and international. Details may be found later in this newsletter and at the chapter’s website. Thanks again to David Enlow and his committee for planning this spectacular conference.

The Board joins with me in sending our very best wishes to you. We look forward to seeing you during the Presidents’ Day Conference.

Respectfully yours,

Keith S. Tóth

John Connor
  Presidents Day

Presidents Day

Special Topics in French 19th and 20th Century Music

in partnership with The Church of the Ascension and

Palazzetto Bru-Zane – Centre de Musique Romantique Française

Conference Host: Dr. Dennis Keene
Event Hosts: Keith S. Tóth, James Kennerley

Admission Free to NYC Chapter Members; All others: $45 Conference Fee — or separately:

Sunday 19 Feb 4pm $15 Chamber Music Concert (available at door)

Sunday 19 Feb 8pm $15 Stephen Tharp Recital (available at door)

Monday 20 Feb 8pm $35 Clarion Concert

Click here for complete details and to buy tickets

SUNDAY — 19 February 2012

Brick Presbyterian Church
Park Avenue at 91st Street

4.00 pm Vierne & Dupré Chamber Music
Bernadette Hoke and Daniel Kirk-Foster, piano
Laura Bontrager, cello, and Cenovia Cummins, violin
Dupré: Violin Sonata, Op. 5 (dedicated to Vierne)
Vierne: 'Cello Sonata, Op. 27
Organ Music of Batiste and Dubois
Diego Innocenzi, organ | View Program

The Church of St. Mary the Virgin
145 West 46th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues)

8.00 pm Organ Recital & 2011 International Performer of the Year Award
Stephen Tharp, organ | View Program

MONDAY — 20 February 2012

The Church of the Ascension
Fifth Avenue at 10th Street

9.00 – 10.30 am Catered breakfast by Balthazar Bakery
Display tables open

10.30 – 11.45 am 19th Century French Church Music & Interpretation
Diego Innocenzi

12.00 – 1.00 pm Marie-Madeleine Duruflé-Chevalier – Remembrances
Dr. Dennis Keene, Dr. Matthew Lewis

1.00 – 2.30 pm Lunch on your own
Display tables open

2.30 – 3.45 pm Early Organ Works of Tournemire – Lecture/Recital
Dr. Andrew Henderson

3.45 – 4.15 pm Display tables open

4.15 – 5.30 pm Jehan Alain: Life and Works – Lecture/Recital
Renée Anne Louprette

5.30 – 7.30 pm Dinner on your own; Display tables open

8.00 pm Clarion Choir – Steven Fox, conductor
with Diego Innocenzi, organ & chamber ensemble

Presbyterian Association of Musicians Northeast Gathering

In Memoriam: Gerre Hancock (1934–2012)

Gerre Hancock
Gerre Hancock, after his final service at St Thomas Church, June 2004. Photo courtesy of George Bang.

St Thomas calendar page which will have up-to-date information on Gerre’s Requiem which is scheduled for February 4 at 11:00 a.m.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/26/arts/music/gerre-hancock-st-thomas-church-organist-dies-at-77.html?_r=3 New York Times obituary.

Memorial guest book if you would like to leave a message.

New York Times article of April, 13 1995: At Home with Gerre Hancock, the source of the “anything that is beautiful is sacred” quote.

University of Texas obituary.

Austin Chronicle article.

2009 Interview with GH in the Austin Chronicle.

Facebook appreciation page with pictures and messages.
David Lloyd ben Yaacov Klepper   David Enlow   Arthur Lawrence, D.M.A., A.A.G.O.

In Memoriam: Bart Harris (1926–2012)

Bart Harris



Organ Concert Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church

Marie Schumacher

Mary Blatz, daughter of Marie Schumacher--Mystery Member from the Past featured in the September newsletter--would be glad to hear from anyone who knew her mother or has information on her career. Her email is mailto:irisgal@windstream.net

Yvonne L. Sonnenwald-Melin  

Members From the Past

Roberta Bailey

Kenneth Starr, Craig Whitney, and Donald McDonald each correctly identified Roberta Bailey in last month's issue.

Craig provides the following sketch of Ms. Bailey's very interesting life and career:

After graduating from the University of Minnesota where she studied music and journalism-advertising, Roberta Bailey came to New York in September of 1949 as assistant to Virgil Fox at Riverside Church. Besides playing the organ (then a Hook & Hastings that Fox wanted to replace) her duties included climbing into the organ chamber to pull out ciphering pipes and chauffeuring Virgil around in his white Cadillac convertible, and in 1951 she became his concert manager. She found him demanding, and "selfish," but in a class of his own. In 1955, thanks to continuing ciphers and to the generosity of John D. Rockefeller Jr., Aeolian-Skinner completed installation of the new organ.

In 1956 the AGO National Convention was to be in New York and Virgil Fox and Robert Baker were the co-chairs of the convention. Roberta Bailey was the convention manager, and she had Fox play the American premiere of Durufle's Suite, op. 5, dedicating the performance to the memory of G. Donald Harrison, who had died two weeks earlier.

Soon after the convention, she met and fell in love with Richard F. Johnson, a businessman who was also an organist in Westborough, Massachusetts, and after they were married she moved there and had three children. Roberta Bailey Concert Management tried to carry on as Fox's concert manager from Massachusetts, but in 1963 Fox replaced Bailey with Richard Torrence, who had become his personal secretary.

Her concert management business continued successfully, with Pierre Cochereau and Karl Richter among her famous clients, but in 1973, when Fox was trying to acquire the Hammond Castle Museum in Gloucester, Mass., she and Johnson decided to help him raise money and convince local authorities and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Boston, which owned the museum, to let him buy it. When they did, in 1975, she and Johnson served as directors of the Hammond Castle Museum and of the Virgil Fox Center for the Performing Arts he established there. His ambitions to enlarge the organ that the inventor John Hays Hammond Jr. had installed in the castle, and to broaden the cultural ambitions of the museum produced immediate financial disaster, and Fox forced Bailey and Johnson to resign after only a few months.

Roberta Bailey Johnson died in 1996, before she could complete a planned autobiography. Richard Johnson died in 2001.

Can You Identify This Member From the Past?

. . . now deceased?
The next chapter newsletter is the March 2012 issue. The deadline for submissions is February 15, 2012. 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.