March 2016 Newsletter


March 2016

In This Issue


By Kari Miller

Crossword, sudoku, jigsaw, jumble, cryptograph, word search, Bach, Messiaen - take your pick!  Who can resist a good puzzle? Most of us find puzzle solving “fun,” unlike day-to-day problem solving, which seems like just so much hard work. It has been suggested that part of the appeal of puzzles comes from the fact that many of the problems (puzzles) we encounter in real life do not have clear-cut solutions, while even the most difficult crossword or sudoku does. We happily spend hours and hours on a puzzle, persevering with dogged determination in the face of repeated failure – all because we know with certainty that a solution is to be found.  We become encouraged and excited as the solution takes shape piece by piece, clue by clue, and when that final bit is filled in, we experience a real thrill of accomplishment – the reward of the “aha” moment. The intensity of that “aha” moment is often directly correlated with the amount of time and energy that has gone into finding the solution.

We would do well to carry this playful but persistent attitude to our work on the organ bench, puzzling out musical mysteries. Some pieces, riddles in themselves, reward us with an “aha” moment just for playing the right notes at the right time. Anyone who has learned a Bach Trio Sonata knows what I am talking about. What a thrill when it all fits together and “clicks” for the first time!

Figuring out registrations for a complicated organ piece often feels quite like solving a puzzle; certain things have to be a certain way and each element is related to and has an effect on every other element. But as we choose our stops, assign our solos, juggle the manuals and set our pistons, we can be led down attractive dead-end paths; a desired “solution” might prove unworkable because of a single sticking point. Just as when we are solving a puzzle for pleasure, we sometimes need to scrap it all and start over. It is not always easy to preserve that lightness of heart which can find this entertaining. We may be pressured by time, stressed by the need to find the solution right now (or at least by tomorrow’s rehearsal), or we are weighed down with nagging doubts because we know that in music there is rarely a single right answer. We are denied the innocent joy of the “aha” moment and must find our pleasure in the process itself.

While “church organist” doesn’t usually appear on lists of “Jobs for People Who Love Puzzles” (yes, there are such lists) it probably could. According to Will Shortz, crossword editor for The New York Times and Puzzlemaster at NPR, musicians might just have an edge when it comes to puzzle-solving abilities. Good puzzle solvers have the ability to quickly synthesize a lot of different information as well as an ability to easily recognize patterns. Those skills, Shortz says, “go along with math and music.”

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Next Chapter Event - The Art of Fugue

Modern dance ensemble, SYREN, performs Bach's 'The Art of Fugue,' played by Richard Erickson, organ, and Donald Meineke, harpsichord. Creative use of the church combined with lighting makes for a fascinating and unique concert experience. 

Saturday, April 9, 7:00 pm
St. John's Episcopal Church
679 Farmington Avenue
West Hartford.

 $20 suggested donation. AGO members $10. (Co-sponsored with St. John's Episcopal Church.)

For full details, visit

Nominating Committee Report

The slate for election at the Annual Meeting on May 23rd, 2016 is as follows for next year:
  • Dean, Kari Miller
  • Sub-Dean, Peter Niedmann
  • Treasurer, John Coghill
  • Registrar, Mark Child
  • Secretary, Douglas Duca
  • Member-at Large term ending in 2017, Mary DeLibero
  • Member-at-Large term ending in 2018, Vaughn Mauren
  • Member-at-Large term ending 2019, Alan MacMillan
A member’s name may be entered for election for any office by petition of five voting members. Petitioners have 30 days from when the slate is announced to send the petition to Amy Vinisko, current Chapter Secretary—that deadline is April 1, 2016.
Respectfully submitted, GHCAGO Nominating Committee: Cheryl Wadsworth, Chair, Eugenia Sullivan and John Parsons

Pedals, Pipes and Pizza Review

By Mary DeLibero

On Monday, February 15th, several young pianists between the ages of 8 to 14,  participated in our annual Pedals, Pipes and Pizza program. The day began at First Church of Christ, Glastonbury, home of a three manual, thirty-one rank Schoenstein organ, a little over ten years old. Dean Kari Miller opened the program with a demonstration and introduction to the organ, playing selections by Froberger and Dale Wood. Each student was then invited to play a piano piece they brought while Kari coached them through some of the mechanics of playing manuals and pedals.

The young pianists continued to explore the gamut of sounds available with Vaughn Mauren. He encouraged them to imagine how they wanted the piece to sound, and then offered several options for them to consider. The results brought smiles to all when the beautiful, whimsical, and even scary possibilities were heard.
After a delicious lunch (pizza, of course) and a video on how a pipe organ is built, the group traveled to St.James Episopal Church, Glastonbury, for a look at another organ. Jim Barry, organist and choirmaster at St. James, was host, and showed the group the two manual Gress-Miles organ. As before, the participants played their piano pieces and experimented with the registrations. Jim showed them an organ pipe and explained how it worked. Then, Peter Niedmann impressed and delighted everyone with his improvisation on "My Country 'Tis of Thee." Certainly a wonderful time was had by all!

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New Radio DJ

Radio station WIHS, 104.9 FM in Middletown, Connecticut, has appointed David Spicer as Director of Music. He is responsible for all the music that is aired, and as such, is the point person to review CD’s that are submitted for airing.  In addition, he has a weekly program called “Glory, Praise, and Song” (GPS), which is entirely classical, and is heard from 1:00 – 1:30 PM on Sundays and during such times as Advent and Christmas, Palm Sunday, and Easter, the program is from 12:30 – 1:30 PM.

WIHS is a Christian radio station and as such reaches a large following in Connecticut, and portions of Massachusetts and New York. The tastes of the listeners differs, as one could imagine.  While “GPS” features such things as the pipe organ and English cathedral choirs of men and boys, the majority of music played during other programs, is basically contemporary Christian, and various hymn settings. will allow listeners to tune in anywhere the internet is available.
David is the Minister of Music and the Arts at the First Church of Christ in Wethersfield, Connecticut, and is the Artistic Director of the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival, now housed at Trinity College in Hartford.

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Remembering Richard Knapp

Long time Hartford Chapter member Richard William Knapp died on Sunday, February 21, 2016 at the age of 80. A pianist, organist, harpsichordist and choral conductor, his early musical studies were with his late father-in-law Glenn H. Smith of West Hartford. Richard won the Hartford Chapter, American Guild of Organists' "Young Organist Award" in the late 1940s. He played his first church service before age 10 and continued in the church music field for sixty years, including service as Organist and Director of Music at The First United Methodist Church, Hartford from 1957 through 1988. An ardent enthusiast of the pipe organ and its literature, he installed a pipe organ in the family residence in West Hartford as a teenager. Later, Mr. Knapp designed, sold and installed numerous instruments throughout New England as Regional Representative of Casavant Frères L.P., of St-Hyacinthe, Québec, from 1966 until his death.

A Memorial service will take place on Saturday, Apr. 2, 2016, 1:00 pm at St. James's Episcopal Church, West Hartford.
- See more at:

The Houston Chapter invites you and the members of your chapter to attend the 2016 AGO National Convention, June 19–23. After several years of planning, we are pleased to offer an array of renowned performers and workshop presenters, and provide a showcase for new, rising talent and exciting new compositions. If you have not already done so, be sure you take advantage of the early registration rates and reserve your spot today—discounted rates will expire on March 14. Registration is easy: Register now!
Visit to see the exciting details of the 2016 convention.
Sign up here to stay informed through our convention newsletter.

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More AGO Events of Interest


New Haven, CT

Hymn playing workshop with Stuart Forster, Saturday, March 12, 11am-1pm, at Christ Church (Episcopal), 84 Broadway, New Haven. Hear from the author of a recent leading book on hymn playing, drawing on interviews with master church musicians. You may choose to go to lunch as a group afterwards. Signup required by March 7 to Free and open to the public.
Pedals, Pipes & Pizza for kids and youth, March 19, 10am-1pm, at St. Thomas Church (830 Whitney Ave, New Haven) and First Presbyterian Church (704 Whitney Ave, New Haven), with Simon Jacobs and Patrick McCreless. We will start at St. Thomas Church and finish at First Presbyterian Church.  An introduction to the pipe organ, followed by free pizza lunch! Kids 8-18 are encouraged to join us. Signup required by March 17 to
Link to more info:

Springfield, MA

The Springfield Chapter of the American Guild of Organists is proud to host a Pipe Organ Encounter this summer. Pipe Organ Encounters ensure the future of our art by introducing teenage musicians with piano experience to the pipe organ in a summer camp setting. The POE will take place July 10 - 15, 2016 and will be centered in Northampton, MA. They will be making a day trip to Hartford to tour the Austin Organ Company factory, visit the organ at Cathedral of Saint Joseph, hear a carillon concert at Trinity College and hear an organ recital by Christopher Houlihan at Trinity College Chapel.

Harrisburg, PA

On July 10-14, 2016, the Harrisburg Chapter is hosting the only POE+ in the nation at the beautiful campus of Messiah College, Grantham, PA.  The event offers organ training from beginners to advanced for students 19 and older who are interested in developing and improving their service-playing abilities. We welcome pianists who want to learn the basics of organ playing. This is an important endeavor to help organists refine their skills and inspire them to become well- trained church organists.

Information with details about costs, housing, faculty, churches and organs is available at or Applications are exclusively online this year. Payment, however, must be sent to the Harrisburg Chapter registrar (address on separate payment form). The deadline for early registration is April 1 (price reduced) and the deadline for regular registration is May 1st.

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The Tool Box

By Mike Foley

Having your instrument tuned? If you want to prepare a “love-note-list” for the tuners and really want to locate what’s not working right, invite another trained organist to play a few pieces on your pipe organ. No one can spot problems faster than a sub. One of the reasons is that they usually use registrations different from yours and therefore can show up the problems that your regular registration line-up cannot. As for the upcoming tuning, remember….
  1. Have the room’s temperature at the church’s occupied setting at least a few hours in advance of the tuner’s arrival.Unlock all the doors, including the blower room and the console roll top.
  2. Have them include blower/motor lubrication.
  3. Cancel all the other events in/around the organ that day.
  4. Show some interest….stop by and check the tuning before the techs leave.
Happy Easter!

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Job Listings are now available on our chapter website. To post a job opening, contact   
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Chapter Board

Dean - Kari Miller
Sub-Dean - Peter Niedmann
Secretary - Amy Vinisko
Treasurer - John Coghill
Registrar - Mark Child
Ronald Coons
Mary DeLibero
Vaughn Mauren

Newsletter Editors
Edward Clark
Joan Pritchard

Job Listing Service
Kari Miller

Amy Vinisko
Copyright © 2016 Greater Hartford Chapter American Guild of Organists, All rights reserved.

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