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In This Issue
From the Dean
From the Sub-Dean
Quote of the Month
From the Editor
Won't You Be My Neighbor?

  David Enlow, Dean, NYC Chapter, American Guild of Organists
  David Enlow, Dean

From the Dean

Dear Colleagues,

We try to have a chapter event every month, except December and whatever month Holy Week appears in. This season, our October event is in November! You’ll see later on in this issue that there is a masterclass on November 3rd, with the esteemed organ teacher and performer Marie-Bernadette Dufourcet. I am grateful on behalf of our executive board to all who are volunteering that evening, from our host to the hospitality crew to those playing. Thank you!

The November event is also in November, thank heavens. Mark your calendars for the 21st with Andrew Henderson, my nearest organist neighbor and a gifted, patient teacher and church musician. Many of us often have to direct ensembles from the console, and many of us have never been officially instructed in that somewhat odd art! I am looking forward to hearing new perspectives.

In our broader American culture, as you all know, things are quite tense just now. Most commentators say we are in near-total conflict and polarization. I know that I have been able to draw comfort from organ and choral music in this past couple of years, as ever, and I hope that you all do, also. Our great tradition can provide comfort, holiness, unity of purpose, inspiration, and can move the affects of the soul. Courage!

Yours truly,

David Enlow

From the Sub-Dean

Our third and final event of 2016 is a Conducting from the Console Masterclass on Monday, November 21st at 7 PM at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. Our guide (and host) is Dr. Andrew Henderson, known to many as a superb teacher and colleague. Please email me if you would like to participate as a singer or as an organist-conductor.

Renowned artist and teacher Jeff Brillhart will lead our annual improvisation mini festival on Saturday, February 4th 2017. Save the date in your calendars and look for more information shortly.

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 February 2017 in your calendars and look forward to a fantastic weekend celebrating the art of silent film accompaniment and much more, with featured artists Peter Krasinski and Chelsea Chen, and speakers John Bishop (our very own editor!), and Jonathan Ambrosino. Our principal venue is Marble Collegiate Church with its new Sebastian Glück instrument. We will also have a concert on the Fisk organ at the Church of the Transfiguration.

In addition to the regular program year, we have another International Performer of the Year Award due to take place in 2017. In the meantime the Chapter, along with the Peragallo Pipe Organ Company, are presenting the 2015 award to Daniel Roth, who will give a concert for the Chapter on Tuesday, March 28th 2017 at 7:30 PM at the Church of Saint Francis Xavier (John Uehlein, host).

With my best wishes, on behalf of the Program Committee,

James Kennerley, Sub-Dean & Program Committee Chair

Quote of the Month

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.


Arthur Lawrence David Enlow FAGO  

From the Editor

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

New York City is renowned as a cultural mecca. How many performances and exhibitions are going on of a given evening? How many musicians, actors, poets, and dancers are "on the clock" each day? New York is home to some of the world's greatest museums, and in our boutique corner of the world of culture, genius organists are sitting on benches throughout the city every Sunday. But there's a gaping hole.

On October 17, 2016, The Wall Street Journal published an Op-Ed piece by our friend and neighbor Paul Jacobs, chair of the organ department at the Juilliard School. Under the title, In Praise of PIpes, Professor Jacobs pointed out the glaring hole in the cultural life of New York. You can read Professor Jacob's piece at http://www.wsj.com/articles/in-praise-of-pipes-1476732698. Many of New York's churches are graced by the presence of heroic pipe organs, but unlike other cultural capitals like Nashville, Tennessee or Jacksonville, Florida, neither of New York's great orchestral concert halls has a pipe organ.

What about Alice Tully Hall? The Kuhn organ is a fine, if limited, recital organ, and would be a fine, if limited church organ. But that organ would be obliterated by the massive sound of a modern symphony orchestra, and the stage Alice Tully Hall couldn't handle one, anyway.

In October 2013, it was a thrill to hear Stephen Tharp play Copland's Symphony for Organ and Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, but it was also a fantastic lesson on the difference between real and artifical sound. The orchestra, directed by Leon Botstein, was majestic in the fabled acoustics of the hall. In contrast, the whiny little electronic organ was a disappointment – a characature of an organ, a cartoon. We all know that there's hardly a limit to the volume of amplified music – boom-boom cars on Fifth Avenue make more noise than that "organ" in Carnegie Hall. But volume isn't everything. A pipe organ has presence and majesty that a digital can never equal.

Thankfully, sound technicians set the levels for that Carnegie Hall concert to keep the organ "balanced" with the orchestra. But the difference in the perception of tone was striking. I've talked about the economics of pipe organs as compared to electronic instruments with organ committees for decades, but if you remember that music is an art, money is not the point.

Professor Jacobs mentioned that the previous conductor of the New York Philharmonic, Kurt Mazur, lamented as he left the post that he had failed in his aspiration to bring an organ to Avery Fisher Hall. I recall a "goodbye" article in The New York Times, quoting Mr. Mazur as saying that there are more than 250 pieces that the orchestra couldn't play because there was no organ. I'm grateful to Professor Jacobs for using his lofty pulpit to bring this issue before the public. And I'm glad it was published in the WSJ. People reading that rag know how to raise money. They just need to be convinced it's a good idea.

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

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

  249 1/2 East 13th Street (Click on image for more photos and a blogspot...)

Wendy and I had a nice New York Sunday last week. After church, we had a swell brunch at Momofuku Ssäm Bar (Second Avenue at 13th), and went to the Met to see the exhibition Beyond Caravaggio, featuring the paintings of Valentin de Boulogne. Leaving the restaurant, we walked west on 13th, heading for subways at Union Square, and Wendy noticed the cutest little rowhouse with a stone legend at "impost" level, bearing the names Bitter & Moretti, Sculptors.

There was a big bronze plaque at sidewalk level:

"This building constructed in 1892 was the studio of the noted architectural sculptors Karl Bitter (1867-1915) and Giuseppe Moretti (1857-1935) In 1891, Karl Bitter won the competition for the design of the tympanum and doors of Trinity Church on Broadway and Wall Street. The earnings from this, his first major commission, enabled him, with Giuseppe Moretti, to finance the construction of this studio. Bitter is probably best known to New Yorkers for his statue of Pomona or Abundance, which stands in the Pulitzer Fountain in front of the Plaza Hotel. This was his last work, the clay model completed shortly before his death and later cast by his assistants. Other works in Manhattan include sculptural elements on the facades of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Appelate Court Building on Madison Square, and the U.S. Customs House next to Battery Park.

Giuseppe Moretti created the largest cast iron statue in the world, the fifty-six foot Vulcan which overlooks the City of Birmingham, Alabama. His first major commission in the United States was for marble friezes and statuary in the Marble House of William Kissam Vanderbilt in Newport, Rhode Island. For most of his career he lived in Pittsburgh, where many of his notable works can be found. Among them are the Stephen Collins Foster Memorial and two entranes to Highland Park. A gifted singer, his tenor voice was frequently praised by his friend, Enrico Caruso."

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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