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||David Enlow, Dean
From the Dean
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
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
Upcoming Chapter Events
Read more about our upcoming Chapter events below, and please
be sure to mark your calendars for the remaining events of
Monday, January 18, 2015: Improvisation symposium
with Justin Bischof at Holy Trinity RC Church. 4:45 PM masterclass; 6:45
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
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
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
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!
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
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
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.
of the Month
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 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
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?
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