October 2015 Newsletter


October 2015


In This Issue


By Kari Miller

Several weeks ago I received in the mail a lovely thank-you note, addressed to the Greater Hartford Chapter and signed by each of the participants in the Brooklyn Pipe Organ Encounter. The POE had received financial support from our chapter. The card read: “…with Positiv-ly Great-ful appreciation in making this a Swell week at the Brooklyn Pipe Organ Encounter!” I smiled to myself; I have on occasion written similar little “love-notes” to my organ techs. The terminology of the organ is a fertile ground for puns, double meanings and all sorts of wordplay, once you start to look out for them. But for the game to be fun you have to speak the language, otherwise the joke slips by unnoticed.

I learned this, to my chagrin, some years ago when I put together an “Organ Quiz” for the monthly church newsletter. I was quite proud of my cuteness and cleverness, until I realized that the humor bypassed most people; they simply told me it was “too hard.” My young piano students were a better test group, but they were mostly concerned with “getting it right.” So, in hopes of having better luck with you, dear readers, and eliciting at least a mild chuckle, here are a few of my test questions:

In organ terminology, a “general” is:

  1. The predominant set of pipes in each division of the organ.
  2. A bossy organist.
  3. A button which controls the settings of the organ, enabling the organist to quickly change sounds.

An organ “coupler” is:

  1. A device for connecting one manual of the organ to another, or pedal to manual, allowing the pipes of various divisions to sound when played from keyboards other than their own.
  2. A rustic dance of German origin, traditionally played at wedding feasts.
  3. A device which lets the organist play any two sets of pipes at once.

When an organist “thumbs” a melody it means:

  1. Totally messing it up, being “all thumbs”.
  2. Playing with one hand on two keyboards at once, with the thumb reaching down to a lower keyboard.
  3. Leaving it out completely, (like “thumbing one’s nose” at something).

In organ talk, a “cipher” is:

  1. The small number etched into the bottom of each organ pipe.
  2. Organ slang for “decipher” - example: “I finally ciphered that complicated passage.”
  3. The unwanted, continuous sounding of an organ pipe.

An organ “stop” is:

  1. The device which regulates which set of pipes will play; also used to refer to any complete set of pipes - example: “The 16-foot fagott is one of my favorite pedal stops.”
  2. A button, similar to the elevator’s emergency button, which the organist can press if other controls stop functioning.
  3. What you want any loud, dissonant piece of organ music to do, immediately. 

Do you have a fun “organ question” to share?

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Coming Up: Our 27th (!!) Annual Pipescreams Extravaganza

Friday, October 23rd at 7:00 pm
Church of Christ, Congregational, 1075 Main St., Newington

Enjoy a great concert, complete with costume parade and yummy reception.
A goodwill offering will be taken at the door to benefit the L. Cameron Johnson Scholarship Fund.
Calling all musical ghosts, ghouls and gremlins…
Witches, wraiths and warlocks…
Devils, demons and dragons…
Vampires, zombies and slime-monsters!
Come, thrill us with your weird and wondrous organ playing…
We still need players! We are also accepting pirates, princesses, animals, cartoon characters and even regular guys, as long as they play the organ. If you have a creepy, crazy or creative piece you would like to play, contact Kari at kari.magg@snet.net or 860-379-5612.
Last Year's Cast of Characters!

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Grant Applications Sought for Jolidon Fund

The sub-committee for the Jolidon Fund is accepting applications for grant requests for events that will take place between January 1 and June 30, 2016. The deadline for applications is November 15, 2015. Decisions will be announced by early December. The criteria for grants are 1) events and projects that advance the mission of the AGO in the Connecticut area, and 2) projects that involve the organ and/or choir. While there is no specified dollar limit, grants have typically ranged from $500 to $3000. More will be considered based on the project and our available funds. Preference will be given to projects sponsored by AGO members.

The committee is especially interested in first-time applicants from our chapter who may have never sought a grant before. This is an opportunity to dream about a special project or event for your institution. We are also interested in events that will attract a wider audience to the organ. Show us how you plan to draw in people who are new to the organ experience.

For an application, click here. For more information or questions, contact Jim Gower at

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Looking Back: Anthem Reading Session

The Chapter's Anthem Reading Sessions continue to be one of our most successful events. This year's program was held at the First Church of Christ in Farmington on Saturday, September 26 and attracted a crowd of 34 members and friends. Around twenty anthems were shared including several by local composers who were in attendance. After lunch a smaller group moved into the church's Meetinghouse for a sharing session of organ music.

Feedback on New Newsletter Format

This is the second month that the chapter newsletter has been formatted online and emailed, and the first month of no paper copies. It’s been an adjustment for all of us. So far, some have expressed a need for a large print version (we hope you have discovered how to enlarge the text on your computer). Some just don’t like this format. It will take some time to get used to it, but so far it has significantly reduced the amount of time that the editors work on putting it together. Keep sending your feedback and suggestions to the editor at edwardclark@snet.net.

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Thank you to 25 Years of Chattervox Assemblers

The new newsletter format has eliminated the job of assembling and mailing Chattervox, the chapter’s paper version of the newsletter that had been published for decades. This was not an easy job. The assembler had to fold and stuff the newsletter and inserts into envelopes that then needed a label and sealing before delivery to the post office. If the envelope held more than the standard amount of paper, a sample had to be weighed and extra stamps affixed. Prior to assembling, the materials had to be gathered: the newsletter itself from the editors, mailing labels from the registrar, pre-stamped envelopes from the post office paid for by the treasurer, and, in later years, inserts sometimes promised and not delivered or inserts delivered but with no payment or inserts not properly folded, all of which had to be tracked down with the prospective advertisers. All of this had to be accomplished in time for delivery by the first of the month. Not easy when the newsletter itself was often not available until a couple days ahead.
Those who took the plunge and gave it a try in the last 25 years include the ladies at St. Mary’s in Newington when Michael Wustrow was the dean, Peter Niedmann, Will Kanute, stuffing partners Pat Wilson and Joyce Wagner, and most recently Meg Smith. Meg streamlined the process and eased the stress level when she put the editors and the insert advertisers on a strict deadline. To all of you and any others we may have failed to mention, the editors thank you and ask forgiveness for those times we dumped the newsletter in your laps at the last minute. You all came through and we are grateful.

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Are you checking the online calendar of events?

It’s the button on the left at the bottom of this email (and also available on the website). Here you will find an entire year’s worth of local organ and music events submitted by your colleagues. For example, this month you will find at least six organ concerts of various sorts as well as an event for children, music from the Baroque period and more. You can also submit an event for the list by using the middle button below. Do check the list often because more events are being added all the time.
For more details on how to use the calendar and how to submit an event, click here.

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A Musical Tag Sale Opportunity

The Music Series at South Church is conducting an unusual fundraiser of interest to musicians. They are collecting music-related merchandise, such as CDs, cassettes, LPs, scores (choral, solo vocal, piano, etc.), musical instruments, music equipment, books, textbooks and more to sell at a musical tag sale on Saturday, October 24. If you would like to donate items, contact Christine Laird at 860-223-7555. The tag sale will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at South Church’s Cooper Hall, 90 Main Street, New Britain. See calendar listings for full information.

The Tool Box

By Mike Foley

Releathering usually involves chests in the organ. Ask your tech to be sure to use new leather. Organ shops have a way of amassing lots of leather that’s been left over from earlier jobs. Your job may be the one that gets some of this old leather. Some shops stamp/date their leather when it arrives from the supplier and they can therefore follow the age of what’s on the shelves. Many do not. We’ve seen new organs with obviously old leather. Today’s leather’s expected to last about 50+ years....if it’s new. Talk to your tech.

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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 kari.magg@snet.net   
Job Listings
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 © 2015 Greater Hartford Chapter American Guild of Organists, All rights reserved.

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