September 2016 Newsletter


September 2016

In This Issue


By Kari Miller

Here we are once again: it’s September, and another action-packed season lies ahead of us, another summer vacation safely, or sadly, behind us. My own summer was a bit of a change from business as usual this year. I spent most of it on the substitute circuit, which took me to about a half-dozen different churches over the course of the summer. While some weeks were “no sweat,” requiring minimal preparation, others were more absorbing but more demanding, and a few verged on nerve-wracking as I stretched my boundaries and ventured into less familiar territory. All in all, though, I found the experience oddly refreshing.

For someone like me, who had served the same church for nearly a decade, and played in similar denominations for even more years, it was simply a lot of fun to do things differently from week to week - to play on different organs in different spaces, to listen to different speakers and follow different orders of service. And it was fascinating to see the variation, from church to church, not only in the way music is framed and presented but in the way it is valued and listened to (or not). Each congregation had its own idiosyncratic blend of traditions, priorities and preferences which played a considerable role in determining how satisfying the service felt to me as a musician.

One thing which varied greatly was the attitude toward silence. There was the church where one of the few instructions I received was to respect the pregnant pause and be careful not to rush into anything. “Silence for reflection” was inserted at several points in their order of service. At the other end of the spectrum was a church where readers began speaking almost before the final chord of a hymn was released, and where filler music (but not a note extra) was requested to cover every other little gap, such as the return of the worship leader to his chair. And of course every church musician at one time or another asks that most perplexing question: why on earth do churches pay us to play preludes and postludes if nobody cares to shut up and listen to them? Granted, in even the rudest of congregations there will be a music-loving few who afterwards express their pleasure and appreciation, but what a difference it makes when the whole congregation sits quietly during our pieces! Although not the norm, it does happen; if you happen to play for such a group, one that actually listens, consider yourself blessed.

I’m not really sure what lessons I will take from this summer when I settle into another regular situation, but I will definitely try to keep the high points with me and remember what made them special. I will try not to forget how a slight adjustment sometimes makes a big difference. And if one day I feel down and want a chuckle, I need only recall the lady who, when I introduced myself as the substitute organist, exclaimed: “I didn’t know there was such a thing!”

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Sign up now for our September Workshop

The first chapter event of 2016-2017 is a Hauptwerk Workshop on Saturday, September 17 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. The event starts at the home of Ed Clark and Joan Pritchard where you will be introduced to the magical technology and sounds of the virtual organ. Lunch will be served. Then it is on to Grace Episcopal Church in Windsor where Mark Child will demonstrate a church installation of Hauptwerk.

If you haven't experienced Hauptwerk, this is your chance. Sit at a console in Connecticut and play an instrument in France...Italy...Germany...or England! The specifics on how to create an installation in your home or church will also be discussed.

Home of Ed Clark and Joan Pritchard
196 Terry Road
Hartford CT 06105

Grace Episcopal Church
311 Broad Street
Windsor CT 06095

It's all free but please sign up so we know how much lunch food to order up!
Questions? Contact
Kari Miller

Click here to Signup

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Member News

Congratulations to Peter Niedmann for earning the Choir Master of the American Guild of Organists (CAGO) certificate. Peter is now entitled to add the letters "ChM" after his name!

Come say farewell to Bon and Sue Smith who are getting ready to move to Asheville, North Carolina. They are having a party on Saturday, September 10th ~10:am to 4:pm ~ and Sunday the 11th after church from 2:pm thorough 5:pm. They have hundreds and hundreds of sheet music in all genres and periods, service music, concert music, baroque music, jazz, Broadway, standards, as well as hundreds of choral cd’s, books on organ music, treatises and biographies of composers and, organ building, of course, which they are giving away for free! Bon may also still have a two manual Austin console which is nearly ready for Hauptwerk. There will be drinks and snacks. Can’t come on Sept. 10 or 11? Call for an appointment 860-673-2104.  Address: 4 Pioneer Drive, Avon, CT 06001

Lori Bourret writes: "While planning a vacation that included the Washington D. C. area, I checked TAO magazine calendar for special events in the area. Between traveling the Metro and visiting with family we attended a recital by Diane Bish at the First Baptist Church in D.C.! She eloquently spoke about the various pieces we were about to hear. Her playing was equally expressive and polished. The audience even sang with gusto as she played some of her hymn arrangements. For each half of the program she wore a different glittering outfit. She claimed that the more rhinestones on her shoes, the faster she could play!"

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New Board Member Alan MacMillan

Alan MacMillan was born in Nyack, New York where he began musical studies in piano at the age of eight and violin at nine. After a full-length solo violin recital at the age of sixteen, he won a scholarship to complete his high school studies at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan where he began to compose in earnest.

He received his undergraduate training at Boston University where he studied composition with Gardner Read and David Del Tredici and violin with Roman Totenberg. Upon graduation in 1969 he received first prize in composition and began teaching for the Boston University music theory department, becoming Assistant Professor of Music in 1976.
In 1977 he received his Ph.D in composition from Harvard, having studied with Leon Kirchner, Earl Kim and Arthur Berger and winning one of the two annual prizes in composition. Postdoctoral work included the study of Gregorian Chant with Dr. Mary Berry and several world tours as composer-in-residence and singer with the internationally acclaimed Gloriae Dei Cantores choir. His hymn tune, “Rock Harbor” won the 1986 A.G.O./ Hymn Society prize for best tune with a new text and was introduced at the Detroit A.G.O. convention conducted by Sir David Willcocks with Gerre Hancock at the organ. Many of his sacred choral works are published by Paraclete Press of Brewster, Mass.
Since 2003, he and his wife have lived in Connecticut where he has continued to teach, compose and perform.

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Pipescreams 2016 Is Coming

It's time to be planning what you will perform for this year's Pipescreams! This year's "spook-tacular" concert will be held on Friday, October 28 at 7:00 pm at First Church of Christ, Congregational, Glastonbury using their wonderful Schoenstein organ. Contact Mary DeLibero at to tell her what you would like to perform or for more details.

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Have You Renewed Your AGO Membership?

Although many have renewed their AGO membership, there are still a few who have not. If you are one of the delinquent ones, you could soon find yourself wondering why you are no longer receiving the American Organist magazine or the Greater Hartford Chapter's newsletter. Renewal is easy, just click on the following link:

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Upcoming Events in September

This month you can check out the battle of the cellos, attend an organ recital, or try your hand at a clavichord or a lautenwerk. Click on the event calendar button below for details of musical events in your area. Have an event of your own to list? Click on the button to submit an event and we'll get your info right up on the screen.

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The Tool Box

By Mike Foley

The ones for the church’s organ, the one you play every Sunday. Knowing its history can offer lots of rewards, let alone the fact all that information makes you look both very smart and very interested. I guarantee that you’ll use much of what you dig up. Find answers to questions like:
  1. Who was on the builder selection committee? When was the committee formed? Is the original contract there?
  2. Was there a single donor(s)? If the family’s still around, they might want to help with special repairs to the instrument.
  3. Why did they buy this make of pipe organ?
  4. Dedication program/concert? Who played? Is the program from the event in the pile?
  5. Were there additions? By whom? How much were they?
  6. Was this its first installation or was it possibly moved from the previous church building? When?
  7. New console? Why? When?
Drop an email to Bynum Petty, the archivist for the Organ Historical Society. He’s great about taking a look to see if there’s possibly something on your instrument/builder/church in their files. They have lots of stuff. Bynum’s very helpful. Tell him I sent you.
Knowing the above helps you become an even better “friend” to your pipe organ. Such interest and knowledge is always fascinating and satisfying. Somehow, the organs also seem to step up when their “life” is discussed. They like knowing that someone loves them.
Hope this year will be a great one for you.

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View Online Calendar to see chapter and other local events

Event Calendar
Submit your event with our online form by clicking on the button below or from our chapter website.
Submit Event
Job Listings are now available on our chapter website. To post a job opening, contact   
Job Listings
Chapter Board

Dean - Kari Miller
Sub-Dean - Peter Niedmann
Secretary - Douglas Duca

Treasurer - John Coghill
Registrar - Mark Child
Alan MacMillan
Mary DeLibero
Vaughn Mauren

Newsletter Editors
Edward Clark
Joan Pritchard

Job Listing Service
Kari Miller

Ally Barone
Copyright © 2016 Greater Hartford Chapter American Guild of Organists, All rights reserved.

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