Volume 73, Number 6                                April 2023

Table of Contents


Dean’s Message

Live-stream of Consciousness 

Generally Speaking

In March's editorial about camaraderie, I mentioned that I am generally not in favor of live-streaming. I used the word "generally" with intent. Which is to say that I am not categorically opposed to it; but I do not think it should be the norm. (And, just to remind everyone, this column expresses a personal opinion, and not an official position of the AGO.)

There are certainly a number of benefits to live-streaming when executed artfully and implemented judiciously. Certainly, during the Covid lock-downs, when few other options existed, it was a useful means to satisfy people's need to worship corporately and to experience live performances. It continues to allow the sick and home-bound to "attend" events "by extraordinary means from afar," as a friend would put it.

Live-streaming does provide an educational opportunity as well. I love snooping around online to see what other churches are up to, and not just to play Monday morning quarterback. I always discover some new piece of repertoire I can learn, or hear an artistic interpretation I can assimilate, or see a creative solution to some leaflet layout I can incorporate. Sometimes what I find reminds me how lucky I am at Saint Vincent's while other times it points to an even higher standard of excellence to which I can strive. The proliferation of live-streaming truly has rendered any and every kind of service or performance only as far away as a computer screen. But just how far is that? Is it in fact, too close?

The Resurrection of the Body

Dispelling what might be a temporary amnesia induced by crowds during Holy Week, in-person attendance (by which I mean attendance) at many churches is still well below pre-Covid levels. This reminds me of the zippy rejoinder, "Even if you work your way to the top of a coal mine, you are still only at ground level." For example, say that in anno Domini 2020, your 800 seat sanctuary was only hosting 100 on an average Sunday; you now might be aiming up at that lowly figure. What was once a bare minimum is now a goal.

Declining pew numbers is a nation-wide trend, common across all denominations. As such, it is a problem we as a Guild must consider, since it affects our music making and the longevity of our careers. And although this crisis was already well advanced before Covid, I fear that live-streaming the services of a weakened congregation is the equivalent of blood-letting an already ailing patient. Instead of a hoped-for means of resurrection, it is a nail in the coffin.

Circle back next month for some case samples which support my diagnosis and a few prescriptions for recuperation.



James D. Wetzel, Dean

Program News

Chapter Events

Festival of Psalms

Friday, April 21 – 7:30 PM

Church of the Heavenly Rest
1085 Fifth Avenue at 90th Street

The Church of the Heavenly Rest has commissioned a work by David and Kerensa Briggs that will be premiered by the Church’s choir conducted by Janet Yieh, with brass ensemble and David Briggs at the organ.

Recital in honor of Walter Hilse 

Tuesday, June 6 – 7 PM

Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church – Citicorp
619 Lexington Avenue at 54th Street

To mark the passing of the late Walter Hilse, the Chapter will close out the Program Year with a recital celebrating the life and music of this long-time member. The evening will feature some of Walter’s own compositions and music associated with his career. Performers will include former students and colleagues. The Klais organ at Saint Peter’s has recently been reinstalled after flood damage. More information will follow.

All NYCAGO events are free to Chapter members. 


Events around Town

Choir of Pembroke College, Cambridge

Thursday, April 13 – 7 PM
Church of Saint Vincent Ferrer

869 Lexington Avenue at 66th Street

The Choir of Pembroke College, Cambridge (Anna Lapwood, director) will present a free concert of choral and organ music as part of their United States tour. Repertoire will include works of Byrd, Hadley, McDowall, Pärt, Stanford, S.S. Wesley, and Whitacre. The Choir will also join the Schola Cantorum of Saint Vincent Ferrer for the 12 Noon High Mass of Low Sunday, April 15.

Kenneth Dake's Retirement Concert

Sunday, April 23 – 2:30 PM
Marble Collegiate Church

Fifth Avenue at 29th Street

Kenneth Dake, Director of Music at Marble Collegiate Church since 1996, is set to retire later this spring. He will conduct his final concert at Marble, "Sing of Spring and Favorite Things: A Choral Celebration." It will feature the Marble Choir, Festival of Voices, and special guests.

Visit the Church's website for more information and to purchase tickets.

Isabelle Demers in Recital

Sunday, April 30 – 3 PM
Church of Saint Ignatius Loyola

980 Park Avenue at 84th Street

As part of the Concerts at Saint Ignatius series, the renowned concert organist and newly-appointed Associate Professor of Organ at McGill University in Montréal Dr. Isabelle Demers will offer an organ recital on the iconic Mander organ.
Tickets are $25, general admission.

Visit the Church's website for more information and to purchase tickets.

Improvisation Workshop

Monday, May 22 – 7 PM
Church of Saint Ann and the Holy Trinity

Clinton and Montague Streets, Brooklyn Heights

NCOI winner and NYCAGO Chapter Member Kalle Toivio will lead a workshop on organ improvisation sponsored by the Brooklyn Chapter.  Dr. Toivio will be coaching console volunteers and will end the workshop with a free improvisation.
The event is free to Brooklyn Chapter members; $20 for non-members; $10 for students and seniors.

For more information, email Nick Martellacci.

Consider adding your events to the Concert Calendar for the season. Email submissions to Sam Bartlett here

Email suggestions and comments for the Program Committee here.

Bulletin Board

NYCAGO Website Update

We are continuing to work to address some technical issues with our website. The current website has been moved to a new server, which has resolved the back-dated displays experienced and reported last month. The new website design is almost ready to go live. In the meantime, thank you for your patience, as occasional outages may still occur, either on our website or the associated NYC Organ Project site.

Advertising in the Monthly Newsletter

We are once again accepting ads for this monthly Newsletter (hence the Kotzschmar ad below). Consider advertising your upcoming events here; we enjoy a readership of over 1,500. Please write to the editor for rates and details.

Regional AGO Convention

The 2023 AGO Northeast/Mid-Atlantic Dual Regional Convention is being held just north of the City in Westchester County from July 3-6. The area is replete to world-class instruments, impressive architecture, and exquisite dining and shopping – all within the beauty of the lower Hudson River Valley.

A number of our own NYCAGO Chapter members will be performing, including Justin Bischof, David Enlow, John T. King, Renée Anne Louprette, Jennifer Pascual, Craig Williams, and Janet Yieh. 

Visit the website for more information. Registration is now open.

POE Registration

A Pipe Organ Encounter (POE) is a six-day "summer camp" designed to introduce the organ to young musicians aged 13-18. Participants receive private instruction, learn about the construction and mechanics of pipe organs, perform on world-class instruments, and are introduced to careers in music. More than 100 Chapters have hosted a POE, and thousands of students have participated since 1988.

This year, two POE events will be offered: June 18-23 in Wheaton, Illinois, and June 25-30 in Wichita, Kansas. The registration deadline is May 15.

Visit the website for more information.


Send Bulletin Board submissions to the editor for publication.

Submit news items (professional appointments, retirements, marriages, births, obituaries, etc.) to the editor for publication in Member News.

Quote of the Month

From En route, la cathédrale (1900)

Created by the Church, and promoted by her in the medieval choir schools, plainsong is the aerial and moving paraphrase of the immovable structure of the cathedrals; it is the ethereal and elusive interpretation of the canvases of the early painters; it is the winged translation…of those Latin sequences sung by monks in their cloisters in the far-off long ago.  

~Joris-Karl Huysmans (1848-1907)

NYCAGO Substitute Organist List

The New York City Chapter of the AGO maintains a list of its members willing to serve as substitutes. This list contains information which has been self identified by those who have chosen to be included in this roster. The information has not been confirmed by the NYCAGO nor is the NYCAGO able to ensure that the individual is appropriate for any particular situation. Only members in good standing of the Chapter are included on this list.

Visit the NYCAGO Sub List Information by clicking here.

NYCAGO Chapter Information

General Inquiries

Chapter Contacts Page
Chapter Committees and Appointments


James D. Wetzel, editor
The newsletter is published at the beginning of every month, September–June. Please submit all material to the editor by the 24th of the preceding month.

Executive Board

Dean: James D. Wetzel
Sub Dean: David Shuler
Secretary: Raymond Nagem
Treasurer: Patrick Kreeger
Registrar: Larry Long
Auditors: Paolo Bordignon and Andrew Henderson

At-large (Class of 2024): Loraine Enlow, Nathaniel Gumbs, Bernadette Hoke, Jared Lamenzo, Sándor Szabó, and Lena Tharp

At-large (Class of 2026): Daniel Beckwith, Caitlin Dowling, James Hopkins, Maria Rayzvasser, Michael Shake, and Eva Sze

The biographies of the board members are provided here.
Visit the NYCAGO Chapter website by clicking here.
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