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In This Issue
From the Dean
Upcoming Chapter Events
Dennis Keene: Choral Conducting Workshop
Quote of the Month
Editor's Message
Joke of the Month
Won't You Be My Neighbor?
  David Enlow, Dean, NYC Chapter, American Guild of Organists
  David Enlow, Dean

From the Dean

Dear Colleagues,

At the time of last writing, the first chapter event hadn't quite taken place. The members' recital and reception was very well attended, with quite a few new faces. I'm so grateful, on behalf of the chapter, for all who participated, volunteered to serve food and drink, and attended. Especially, our thanks go to its organizer James Kennerley, who, as Sub-Dean, bears a joyful burden, the heft of which I know well.

People had many good, encouraging comments for each other, and gave a warm, happy audience response to a fine variety of players! If you're one of those folks who stay away thinking "that NYC AGO crowd is judgmental and no one would appreciate the music I enjoy", let me urge you to reconsider! Here in the Chapter, there's room for you if you play early fingerings, and also if you think that that expression means playing an 8:00 a.m. rehearsal of Stanford.

October brought us Carole Terry's master class, which featured David Harrison, Christopher Keady, and Alessandro Pittorino playing works of Bach. I think everyone present agreed that Carole is an excellent teacher and we all profited by her instruction. Thank you to our three participants and, for their hospitality, to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Thomas Schmidt, Cantor.

This month, we present Dennis Keene's class on choral conducting. We had a great response to the last choral event for the membership, and the last time Dennis taught for us was during the Pipe Organ Encounter for high schoolers several years back. His session was a runaway success, even among many great features of that summer. To watch Dennis direct Voices of Ascension is to see the fruits of his tending of a relationship with that ensemble over decades, and 'magic' is not too strong a word.

I believe in continuing education, for myself and for all musicians, and I hope you will take this opportunity to revisit choral techniques, if you can. A side note -- the City and State bar associations require annual continuing education credits for lawyers to remain in good standing and able to practice law. Imagine if musicians held themselves to a similar requirement!

Shortly, we will begin our election cycle. Please let me encourage you, if you are interested in the work of the AGO locally, to get in touch with the nominating committee, when they ask for submissions, and to express your interest. Write-in nominations are also possible under the operating procedures, though our committee procedure will be open and welcoming from the beginning, and I hope you will make use of it.

The autumn is my favorite season, and I have had a full and rewarding one so far. Whether you enjoy "pumpkin spice everything" or the first cool air to breathe over our humid, sun-baked city in months, I hope that the peaceable spell before the Christmas and holiday rush is pleasant for every one of you.

Yours truly,

David Enlow

Upcoming Chapter Events

Read more about our upcoming Chapter events below, and please be sure to mark your calendars for the remaining events of the season:

Monday, January 18, 2015: Improvisation symposium with Justin Bischof at Holy Trinity RC Church. 4:45 PM masterclass; 6:45 PM concert.

Presidents’ Day 2016:
An American in Paris: Nineteenth-Century French Organ Music
Sunday, February 14, 2016 – 5 PM organ concert at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Ray Nagem, organist.
Monday, February 15, 2016 – Conference at Saint Ignatius Loyola.
Lectures by Sebastian Glück and Gundula Kreuzer.
Masterclass by Matthew Lewis. Performances by Renée Louprette and Jeremy Filsell.

Saturday, March 12, 2016: 3 PM Pedal, Pipes & Pizza at the church of Saint James, Madison Avenue. 5 PM Performance by NYC AGO 2015 competition winner Colin MacKnight. Loraine Enlow, chair of PP&P committee.

Late May 2016: Season Finale Chapter Dinner. Venue TBA. David Hurd, guest speaker.

    Dr. Dennis Keene, conductor
    Dr. Dennis Keene

Dennis Keene: Choral Conducting Workshop

For our third event of the season, renowned conductor and organist Dennis Keene will coach four conductors who will lead an assembled choir in works drawn from the great choral tradition. This kind of experience and training is essential to many of us who work with choirs, and it is rare that we have the opportunity to hone those skills with such an esteemed master. Singers and audience members alike will have the unique opportunity to observe first-hand the teaching of a renowned instructor.

Dr. Keene is Artistic Director and conductor of the Voices of Ascension Chorus & Orchestra, and Music Director at the Church of the Ascension. He is known internationally through his many concerts and recordings with Voices of Ascension, and his regular guest appearances as conductor and clinician. Through his work as Artistic Director of The Dennis Keene Choral Festival, he has emerged as one of leading choral conductors in the world today.

We need CONDUCTORS and SINGERS. An accompanist will be provided. Please email me by clicking here if you are interested in singing, conducting, or both!

The masterclass will take place on Monday November 9, at 7 PM in the Parish House at the Church of the Ascension, 12 West 11th Street between 5th and 6th Avenues. Click here for directions.

Admission is free for NYC Chapter members and $10 for all others. A cocktail reception follows the masterclass.

We look forward to seeing you there!

David Lloyd ben Yaacov Klepper   Arthur Lawrence

Quote of the Month

"I would teach children music, physics, and philosophy; but most importantly music, for the patterns in music and all the arts are the keys to learning."

—Plato (ca. 425-348 BC)

David Enlow FAGO   Harold Rosenbaum, conductor

    No Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

Editor's Message

A cartoon in last week’s issue of The New Yorker shows a young girl, I’m guessing 13 or 14 years old, sitting on a stool playing a guitar with a soulful expression on her face. Next to her, on another stool, is a hip looking guy with a guitar – I assume he’s her teacher. There are four large sad and spooky ghosts emitting from the soundhole of the girl’s guitar, surrounding and embracing the teacher, who is saying, “O.K., you’ve pretty much nailed D minor.”

I laughed out loud, and then wondered if organists would be the only ones to “really get” that one? Halloween and All Souls’ Day ring in D minor. Requiems by Mozart, Duruflé, and Fauré are being performed all over the city, and I’m sure that dozens of organists are playing “that Bach piece” as postlude this weekend. If there was a J. S. Bach Foundation collecting royalties with the avidity of the Rodgers and Hammerstein Foundation, the future of the pipe organ would be ensured.

Halloween concerts draw multitudes to the organ, people who otherwise would never cross the threshold of a church. Any college or university that has a credible pipe organ is likely to sponsor some kind of Midnight Madness. Oberlin College (which has several credible pipe organs!) features The Halloween Friday Night Organ Pump, starting at 11:59pm, “costumes welcome, but optional.” And at Brown University, organist Mark Steinbach presents an annual Halloween Midnight Organ Concert, which starts at 11:55pm. Funny, the concert at Brown is promoted by the Office of Chaplains and Religious life, but you can be sure it’s heavy on the secular side!

Spooky is good, but the organ is more than that. And “that piece in D minor” is terrific music, but the organ is more than that, too. When we’re done with D minor concerts, let’s have some E-flat Major evenings, some D Major evenings, and maybe a G major evening or two. Get those repertory juices flowing. Can we “pull a Hallmark” and create a new Organ Holiday? I doubt we could have too many.

Best wishes,

John Bishop

The very best, to the best! Yvonne L. Sonnenwald-Melin

Joke of the Month

  No Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

Won't You Be My Neighbor?


Last month, I wrote about the wonderful new organ at Grace Church, with the personal note that Wendy and I live kiddy-corner from Grace, and it’s a treat to be able to drop in to see and hear that marvelous organ. But walking a few blocks west, the riches continue as we visit Church of the Ascension on Fifth Avenue at West 11th Street. Dennis Keene has been serving there as Director of Music since 1981, and a couple years ago he oversaw the installation of a magnificent new pipe organ built by Pascal Quoirin of Saint-Didier in France.

With 95 stops and 111 ranks, it’s the largest new organ to have been built in France in nearly 50 years, and the first French-built pipe organ to be installed in New York City. It has a three manual tracker-action console that controls the “Baroque” heart of the organ, and a tremendous electric-action console with four manuals that adds the massive Romantic French Swell and powerful, colorful Solo Divisions.

The organ has four facades of French White Oak, decorated with gorgeous carvings and colorful paintwork. While the cases are contemporary in design, the decorations pick up the rich motifs of Stanford White’s interior decorations, forming a wonderful harmonious blend of old and new. Click on the photo to visit the church's website where you'll find more information about the organ, the specifications, and more photographs.

The church is home to the fabled Voices of Ascension, founded in 1990 and directed by Dennis Keene. Through its many recordings and active annual series of concerts, Voices of Ascension has developed and maintained a spectacular reputation for excellence in choral performances, and has a large and loyal following.

Dennis Keene's choral skills are evident each Sunday morning as he leads the church’s stellar choir. Wendy and I have attended many services there, so I can attest to the beauty of the music that is part of regular worship at Church of the Ascension. And it’s especially appropriate to write about this unique organ now as Dennis Keene is presenting a workshop on choral conducting there on Monday, November 9 at 7:00 pm. Directions and details are shared earlier in this issue of the newsletter.

The Manton Memorial Organ was the gift of the Manton Family Foundation, and has been featured in several wonderful recitals. We’ve heard John Gillock, John Scott, and Stephen Tharp play recitals there – which is worthy fare from a neighborhood joint.

If you’re ever free from the bench and in the neighborhood, drop in at Ascension on a Sunday morning for a musical feast. Have brunch at the Village Taverna (very good Greek food) on University Place and East 11th, then get gelato at Amorino (University and 10th) and take a stroll in Washington Square Park. Stanford White, the creator of the interior decoration at Church of the Ascension, also designed the Washington Square Arch at the bottom of Fifth Avenue, using the images of his wife and the wife of the project’s treasurer as models for two of the angels! How's that for a Valentine's Day present?

The newsletter is published monthly, with the exception of combined issues for December/January, May/June, and July/August. The deadling for submissions is the 15th of the month prior. Send materials to newsletter@nycago.org. Questions regarding email addresses should be sent to Larry J. Long, Registrar.

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