Volume 63, No. 3
November 2012

In This Issue
From the Dean
Next Chapter Event
Directory Advertising
Members from the Past
Can You Identify this Member from the Past?
Music at St. Vincent Ferrer Church

From the Dean

  Keith S. Tóth, Dean, NYC Chapter, American Guild of Organists
  Keith S. Tóth, Dean

Dear Colleagues,

I write this letter while greater the New York City area is recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been affected by the hurricane and its ensuing havoc. Please let me know if there is anything that the officers and board can do to assist you during this difficult time.

We were sorry to cancel the organbuilding knowledge session with John Bishop and Sebastian Glück that was scheduled for Tuesday, October 30. We will reschedule this session and will inform the membership in an upcoming email.

The chapter’s next event will be on Sunday, November 18 at 4PM. Nathan Laube, already an international star of the younger generation of concert organists, will present a recital on the French Symphonic Coignet-Casavant Frères organ at The Brick Church. This recital is a collaboration between the New York City Chapter and Brick Church. You will not want to miss out on this recital by this extraordinary artist. Further information may be found later in this newsletter.

The Dean and the Board wish to acknowledge and thank the following who have so generously contributed additional funds to the New York City Chapter as they renewed their membership: William Trafka, Gregory Eaton, Nancianne Parrella, Yvonne Sonnenwald-Melin, Charles Dodsley Walker, Paul Barthel, Robert Bisey, David Brown, Paul Olsen, Kevin Grose, James Litton, David Klepper, Frederick Tripodi, Eric Birk, Arthur Lawrence, William Maul, Harry Wilkinson, William Kring, Bogna McGarrigle, James McGregor, John Joseph O'Hara, Marie Danielle Mercier, Nicholas Sylvester, and Walter Klauss. (List in formation, as received)

Our Annual Directory will be published in early 2013. We are now soliciting advertisement for the directory. Since we have a large readership, this beautifully produced volume is a wonderful vehicle for advertising your programs. I encourage all to visit our chapter website, www.nycago.org, where you can find information about advertising. Our rates are very reasonable and one of the most effective ways of advertising organ and sacred music events. If you have any questions, please contact the Directory advertising director, Bernadette Hoke, at directoryads@nycago.org.

Along with hurricane recovery, this month is busy for most of us with preparations for upcoming holiday music. On behalf of the chapter, I extend best wishes to all during this hectic period and for an appropriately enjoyable and restful Thanksgiving holiday.

Respectfully yours,

Keith S. Tóth
Best Wishes from Yvonne L. Sonnenwald-Melin   David Lloyd ben Yaacov Klepper

Next Chapter Event

Nathan Laube

SUNDAY • 18 NOVEMBER 2012 • 4 pm

Nathan Laube, organist

Brick Presbyterian Church

Park Avenue at 91st Street
Host: Keith S. Tóth

Allegro vivace (Symphonie pour Grand Orgue, Op. 42, No. 5) – Charles-Marie Widor

Variations Serieuses, Op. 54 – Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (trans. Laube)

Sonata Eroïca pour Grand Orgue, Op. 94 – Joseph Jongen


Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses, S. 173, No. 7: Funérailles (d’après Lamartine) – Liszt (trans.Laube)

Suite pour Orgue, Op. 5 – Maurice Duruflé

This recital is sponsored jointly by the NYC AGO Chapter and The Brick Church
Admission: Free to NYC Chapter members; $10 general
Artist's web site: http://nathanlaube.com/
David Enlow, F.A.G.O.   Arthur Lawrence D.M.A., A.A.G.O.

Directory Advertising

There's still plenty of time to submit your ad for the 2012-13 NYCAGO Directory. The deadline is December 1. Complete information about ad sizes and prices may be found here.

Bernadette Hoke
Coordinator, Directory Advertising
John Conner, M.Mus, ChM, CAGO
  Paul J. Sifler
  E. Bronson Ragan

Members from the Past

Congratulations to Frederick Swann and John Stansell who each correctly identified Bronson Ragan in last month's issue.

Kevin Walters, organist of Rye Presbyterian Church and Congregation Emanu-El also in Rye, and a former student of Ragan, wrote a memorial tribute which appeared in the April 1996 issue of The Diapason, from which the following is taken:

E. Bronson Ragan served the Church of the Holy Trinity on East 88th Street, the historic Rhinelander Church, from 1946-1971. He died suddenly at the age of 56, within a few months of completing twenty-five years as organist and choirmaster. A native of Rome, New York, Ragan graduated from the Institute of Musical Art (predecessor of The Juilliard School) with the artists' diploma in piano and organ. His principal teachers were Gaston Dethier and David McK. Williams. In 1938 he was appointed to the theory faculties of both the Institute and Juilliard Graduate School, as it was then known. After service in the U. S. Army during World War II, he returned to New York and to the reorganized Juilliard School where he joined his longtime friend and colleague Vernon de Tar on the organ faculty. He remained until 1969 when he left Juilliard to become chairman of the new organ department of the Manhattan School of Music where he was already a member of the theory faculty. He also taught at Pius X School of Liturgical Music and The Guilmant Organ School from the early 1950s.

Of all his many professional activities apart from the Church of the Holy Trinity, Ragan would surely have said that the most important was his involvement in the examination program of the AGO to which he was passionately committed. He served several terms as a member of the examination committee and the national board of examiners, working to encourage thorough preparation on the part of candidates and to uphold uncompromisingly high standards on the part of examiners. All his students were expected to attend to the applied disciplines of transposition, harmonization, and score reading as diligently as to the learning of the organ repertoire. Where the latter was concerned, Ragan had a very definite preference: the music of J. S. Bach reigned supreme. Any organ music preceding Bach was derisively referred to as "pre-music" and, with the exception of Franck, he was largely unsympathetic toward much 19th and 20th century French music. Through his love of sixteenth-century counterpoint and vast knowledge of its diverse stylistic applications, he was able to communicate a considerable appreciation and understanding of this subject. His own playing was a model of rhythmic and technical precision and his improvisational abilities were phenomenal--he could extemporize a four-voice fugue on a given subject in virtually any style, but adamantly maintained that improvisational skills were largely "unteachable."

In his last few years at Holy Trinity, the Skinner organ was diagnosed as "terminal and inoperable." The church did not have adequate funds to repair or replace it, so Ragan reluctantly agreed to the purchase of a large electronic instrument. At about the same time, Holy Trinity found itself unable to maintain a fully professional choir. Rather than establishing a volunteer choir, Ragan proposed the rather startling idea (for that time) of calling upon his many colleagues and students to introduce instrumental music of all types into regular church services--everything from wind ensembles to a solo violoncello with all the repertory possibilities they brought with them. The result was more successful than had been imagined, and first-class instrumentalists were eager to play in the church with its excellent acoustics. His enthusiasm for this different approach to church music made many of us aware of new possibilities for repertoire and instrumental combinations with the organ.

Can You Identify This Member From the Past?

. . . now deceased?

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The next chapter newsletter is the December/January 2012–13 issue. The deadline for submissions is November 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 Larry Long, Registrar.