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In This Issue
From the Dean
From the Sub-Dean
Quote of the Month
From the Editor
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,

We have just concluded an election cycle. Thank you, most sincerely, to those who participated in the nomination process, those who stood for election, and those who have agreed to serve. There is much work to be done for the Guild, and all of us who volunteer hope that our work together advances the cause of great organ music in our region. What a great cause!

In program news, what a treat it was to have a chapter dinner with David Hurd at St. Thomas's this past month. It is fitting to end our season celebrating with one of our distinguished members.

Your program committee is hard at work preparing a season of events and programs for next year that will build on our history of workshops, classes, and performances for you, the chapter members.

Speaking of chapter members, did you know that the NYC AGO membership has grown by 15% since 2012? We’re often told in so many areas of musical life that the sky is falling; that growth is at least one thing to be grateful for.

With my best wishes for an enjoyable, pleasant, and safe summer,

Yours truly,

David Enlow

From the Sub-Dean

Your Program Committee is hard at work curating a thrilling season of events for the 2016-17 season. Those details need to be discussed, voted on and approved by the Chapter Board, and then the contracts can be prepared, signed, and the full details released to you, our members. It's a long and complicated process, but we've been busy throughout the year working on various parts of that process, and the year looks to be a particularly exciting one.

In addition to the regular program year, we have another International Performer of the Year Award due to take place in 2017.

As many of you know, the Chapter's grandest celebration of all things relating to NYC and the organ takes place on Presidents' Day. Please mark Monday 19th and Tuesday 20th February 2017 in your calendars and look forward to a fantastic weekend!

With my best wishes, on behalf of the Program Committee, for a restful and productive summer!

James Kennerley

David Lloyd ben Yaacov Klepper   Arthur Lawrence

Quote of the Month

"I am hitting my head against the walls, but the walls are giving way."

-Gustav Mahler

David Enlow FAGO   Harold Rosenbaum, conductor

From the Editor

  John Bishop at the Willis Organ at Blenheim Palace
  The Willis Organ at Blenheim Palace (click on photo for specification)

A few weeks ago, Wendy and I were guests at the retirement dinner of a University official. He had a fruitful tenure, had done a great job, and people were pleased with the named successor. It was a festive evening. His wife was the hostess, and she had booked a swanky trendy Brooklyn steakhouse for about a hundred guests. It was a beautiful spring evening, and cocktails and hors d'oeurves were served outside. And they served a fabulous meal with six entrees (Beef Wellington, Baked Trout, Squid Ink Pasta, etc.) served "family style" at nicely set tables. Perfect.

A six-piece jazz ensemble started to play as the food was served and that was the end of conversation. There were speakers everywhere and the volume was set at an ear-splitting level. And the band played on... And the band played on... What were they thinking? Were they afraid that someone would start rumors about the guest of honor? Were they keeping us from talking politics? It was awful. The hostess must have put out $30,000 to create the perfect event, and then ruined it with $7500 worth of music.

The Beatles were musical revolutionaries, thrilling and inspiring millions of fans with their imaginative, thoughtful, world-altering new forms. How long was it after the end of their ride that we started hearing their music in elevators and supermarkets?

Most organists play some sort of voluntary before and after a service of worship, and I've heard many complain about the chatter from the pews as they do. Are we providing background music, using deep expressions of the musical art to fill in the spaces between conversations? Or are we cranking up the volume, insisting that people sit still and listen?

Somewhere in all this is the magical medium. Organ voluntaries should establish the tone, set the mood, prime the pumps for the spoken worship to follow. A prayerful mood can be boisterous and joyful, or quiet and contemplative, and the sensitive organist knows what a given day or celebration is calling for.

The last thing an organ voluntary should be is an ego trip for the organist. The organ is the ultimate paintbrush for creating the spiritual venue for worship. Dip your brush in the colors and paint something beautiful. The people will love it.

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

Joke of the Month

"When I was a little boy, I told my dad, 'When I grow up, I want to be a musician.' My dad said, 'You can't do both, son.'"

-Chet Atkins

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

  Cathedral of St. Sava website
  Click on the photo to follow link to Cathedral of St. Sava where you can read about the history and mission of the church, and contribute to the reconstruction fund.

Sunday, May 1 was Orthodox Easter, and 700 congregants celebrated Easter Worship followed by a Holiday Lunch at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava on West 25th Street near Broadway. A fire alarm was sounded and firefighters entered the building around 7pm to find the church interior fully ablaze. Many of us saw the comprehensive news coverage of catastrophic fire and its aftermath. The stone walls still stand, but the loss was complete.

The magnificent building was designed by Richard Upjohn in 1851, and served as the uptown branch of Trinity Church, Wall Street. The Serbian Orthodox Diocese of America and Canada purchased the building and its furnishings from Trinity Church in 1942 for $30,000 and consecrated it as their Cathedral. Following World War II, the Cathedral became the spiritual home of huge numbers of refugees and immigrants from Yugoslavia, and it has continued to serve as both worship and cultural center.

Following the fire, the congregation is worshiping at General Theological Seminary on West 21st Street.

The NYC AGO Organ Project shows the history of organs in the building. The first was "voiced forcibly" by Hall & Labagh, and the second was a three-manual Odell tracker that included a 32' Bourdon! That must have been a humdinger. The last organ was also by Odell, built in 1922 with three manuals and 44 ranks. It had not been used for many years, and was listed for sale in 2003. It was removed to storage, and is currently available.

It's unclear whether the building can be reconstructed using the original walls, but it's certain that a great heritage was lost that day.

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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