December 2016 Newsletter


December 2016

In This Issue


By Kari Miller

Practically everyone agrees that the winter holiday season is one of the most difficult times of the year. Short days and colder temperatures make us feel like sinking into a state of hibernation, but instead we find ourselves swept up in a whirlwind of shopping, entertaining, decorating, eating, drinking and of course, music-making. We scramble at a hectic pace from one obligatory event to the next, becoming more and more tired, cranky and overwhelmed. There doesn’t seem to be time to catch a breath, let alone get a good night’s sleep or a bit of exercise. Small wonder that so many people (and not just church musicians) report feeling stressed or depressed during the holidays. So if the season of peace and goodwill has you feeling prickly, antisocial or glum, you are in good company.
One common-sense remedy would be to give ourselves permission to do a little less. Do you really need to bake those extra-special Christmas cookies? Probably not - stick with something simple. Do you really need to say “yes” to yet another party invitation? Probably not - odds are you won’t even be missed. Do you really need to keep struggling with that troublesome anthem your choir hates? Probably not - substitute something familiar and they will thank you for it! We often go to such lengths in trying to fulfill our vision of the perfect, magical season that we totally defeat the purpose, creating a nightmare labyrinth of demanding tasks and soul-deadening drudgery. We find our way out at the end, but the mystery and beauty, as well as any chance for spiritual renewal, have passed us by.
It doesn’t help that we are surrounded on every side by images which only reinforce our high expectations. Every storefront and TV screen shows us, in subtle or blatant fashion, how we ‘should’ feel and act, and what heartwarming activities (or latest trends) should be shared with our family and friends in order to properly experience the season of love and joy. We compare ourselves with this impossible greeting-card ideal and of course we do not measure up. We feel defeated - or we take up the challenge, holding tight like a bulldog with a bone. Maybe, just maybe, it would bring us closer to the true spirit of the season to simply be thankful, lighten up, and let it go. Let it go. This is usually easier said than done, so as encouragement (or therapy) I give you this little ditty, dedicated to the mental health of choir directors everywhere…
“Let it Go! Let it Go! Let it Go!”
(to be sung to the tune of “Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!”)
Oh the sound of the choir is frightful
Though the music’s so delightful
And my cool’s about to blow
Let it Go! Let it Go! Let it Go!

It doesn’t show signs of stopping
As the sour notes keep up-cropping
The basses slide down too low
Let it Go! Let it Go! Let it Go!
When we finally sing “Amen”
How I’ll cringe knowing all that went wrong
If they’d listen just now and then
At least it might sound like a song
My wrath is slowly dying
For, dear choir, I know you’re trying
But as long as you bring me woe
Let it Go! Let it Go! Let it Go!

Jolidon Update

By Suzanne Hertel

The Jolidon Fund Private Organ Study Grants Program was announced earlier this fall. This program gives persons interested in learning to play the organ the opportunity for formal study; it is a grant, not a scholarship program.

Currently, six grantees, ranging in age from age youth through middle age, are studying under this program. In addition to financial support, grantees receive a one-year membership in the American Guild of Organists, including a one-year subscription to The American Organist and full access to all local chapter events. Applications outside the Hartford region are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. There is no deadline for application. Brochures about the program are available. See the Chapter website for additional information and application forms.

Perhaps a next step looks beyond keyboard skills to the extended educational needs of new pianists/organists and substitutes encountering new liturgies.
A reminder that March 1, 2017, is the deadline for applications for Jolidon Fund 2017-2018 Grants for Individual Projects scheduled between September 1, 2017, and August 31, 2018. Applications will be reviewed by April 1, 2017, with the announcement of grants made by May 1, 2017. Application forms are found on the Chapter website.
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Photo Gallery - PipeScreams 2016

Below - left to right: Angela Salcedo, Kari Miller, Cheryl Wadsworth, Meg Smith, Peter Niedmann, Diane Rechel and Jim Barry
Below - clockwise from upper left: Diane Rechel, Cheryl Wadsworth, Meg Smith (Sister Benedict) and Angela Salcedo,

Save the Date: Members' Recital on January 28

By Vaughn Mauren

Greater Hartford Chapter members Susan Carroll, Vaughn Mauren, Ezequiel Menéndez, Peter Niedmann, Christa Rakich and Natasha Ulyanovsky will present an organ recital at Trinity College Chapel on January 28, 2017, at 7PM. The concert is free and open to the public, and we strongly encourage you to bring family, friends, neighbors, complete strangers, dogs and cats.
The program will feature a wide variety of repertoire played by outstanding musicians from our chapter. Personally, I often regret that I am unable to attend every performance and special service presented by my local friends and colleagues. The talent within Greater Hartford is extraordinary, and each item I see listed on the AGO calendar is worth going to. But as we all know, it is not possible to attend everything, and sometimes we need to carve out time for our own practicing and rest. Thus, our members’ recital will provide a nice opportunity to hear and support six of your colleagues, all at once. We hope to see you there!

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POE Coming to Hartford

By Vaughn Mauren

The Greater Hartford Chapter will host our very own Pipe Organ Encounter (POE) at Trinity College from July 16-21, 2017.
POEs have been wildly successful in attracting and retaining talented young pianists and organists to pursue professional training and careers as liturgical musicians and concert organists. POEs have also provided a place for students aged 13-18 to gather and hang out with other kids who share their passion for the pipe organ. Thanks to the Internet and social media, friendships forged at POEs continue to grow and develop.
At a typical POE, which operates over six days, students enjoy daily private lessons with outstanding faculty. This summer, the faculty includes Susan Carroll, Faythe Freese, Christopher Houlihan, Dr. Ezequiel Menendez, John Rose, Benjamin Straley, David Spicer, Philip Stopford, William K. Trafka, and Natasha Ulyanovsky.
Lessons are augmented by daily practice, masterclasses which cover diverse topics such as improvisation and hymn playing, off-site organ visits, organ factory tours, and recreational activities. Few institutions offer comparable organ camps for both beginner and intermediate organ students.
If you are interested in volunteering to help make our POE a success, please contact Vaughn Mauren, Hartford POE 2017 Director, at We will need assistance with hospitality, transportation, and chaperoning.
Together, we will make our chapter’s POE a big success!

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Volunteer Needed

Volunteer needed with large vehicle to help transport our lovely but very large (4'x8') Pipescreams lawn sign. The sign needs to be moved from First Church of Christ, 2183 Main Street in Glastonbury a few blocks down the road to St. James' Episcopal, Glastonbury, 2584 Main Street, where it will be stored until next year. If you or someone you know can help, please contact Kari Miller at

Scholarship Competition

By John A. Wolfe, Sub-Dean., Brooklyn Chapter AGO

The Brooklyn Chapter of the American Guild of Organists would like to let you know about our plans to host a Scholarship Competition on Saturday, March 18th, 2017, in hopes that you might be able to connect us with prospective participants.  This will be our chapter’s second time hosting such an event, after a very successful 2016 competition in which we awarded significant prizes to three very talented young organists.

The competition is open to both high school and college organists, with no age or locational requirements. College applicants must be taking organ lessons for credit through their schools and high school applicants must be taking organ lessons with a private teacher.  The application deadline is February 18th, 2017.  The application and more information, including repertoire requirements, is available at  We would tremendously appreciate any help you could offer in spreading awareness about this opportunity to any students, teachers, professional peers, or AGO members whom you believe may be interested.
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Upcoming Events in December

This month's Event Calendar features:
  • A number of organ recitals
  • Christmas services and concerts
Check out all the details using the Event Calendar link below! More events are being added all the time so check back often. And be sure to submit your own events - listings are usually posted within a day of your submission.

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The Tool Box

By Mike Foley

Over my fifty years in the pipe organ business I’ve come to realize that many, including organists, often tout basic organ repairs as having somehow been a total reconditioning or worse, rebuilding of the instrument. Using those job descriptions for anything other than the real thing---a total job on the entire organ---usually slams the door for the future work that then often surfaces after the “total rebuilding” was just finished. 
This has become especially true with now common console/relay upgrade work. Such work is fairly expensive and the amount spent is often a shock to folks who know nothing about the cost of organ maintenance. Despite the figure, only the console and relay were in the mix and the work should have been presented as console/relay upgrades and definitely NOT a total rebuild of the instrument. The rule applies to any partial work. 
Even when an organist carefully spells out that the work is but a section of what’s really necessary, there are still many who do not get the message. Going back is tough even when the powers-that-be understand. It’s almost impossible to get anywhere when they don’t.  
Talk with your technician.   

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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 - Noah Smith

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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