September 2015 Newsletter


September 2015

In This Issue


By Kari Miller

Isn’t it wonderful to feel inspired? Whether one is inspired by the Holy Spirit or an awesome YouTube video, it is a beautiful thing to be “in the zone” - calm, focused, energized, on fire with enthusiasm, ideas flowing freely and doubts falling away. From the Old French inspiracion: “inhaling, breathing,” the word implies a state in which we naturally and effortlessly take in that which gives life to our vision. Inspiration can be spontaneous, unconscious, “under the radar,” or it can be consciously sought out and acted upon. It can be a tiny seed of a thought, a starting point for something which might turn in a whole different direction or it can be a deliberate decision to recreate in our own way something that deeply touched us. It can be a sudden flash of insight, or a sustained commitment to an ideal. We can be inspired by a person, an idea, a story, a work of art, by……practically anything.

Inspiration has little to do with grim determination, persistence, or the achievement of a goal by the sweat of one’s brow, all of which may yet be necessary for success. We all know the quote from Thomas Edison that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, and I think we all accept that great things don’t just happen by themselves, without the hard work of doing. But we might also say that without that 1% inspiration, all the sweat would be for nothing. We might also say that it shows the incredible power of inspiration that we need only that tiny 1% to take flight.

Inspiration is all around us. If you have an open, inquiring attitude you will surely never run out of ready sources of inspiration. Some people are inspired by the natural world - the smell of the sea or the view from a mountaintop. Some love the excitement of travel, of experiencing different cultures and exotic locations. (If the budget is tight, make it virtual travel!) Some find that just listening to music and talking to other musicians fills them with more ideas than they know what to do with. Read a book. Take a walk. Go dancing. Learn another meditation technique. Browse some new Pinterest boards or YouTube performances. It has never been easier to access a whole world of inspirational possibilities.

Yet somehow, when we find ourselves stuck in a joyless rut, seeking inspiration is usually not our first thought, although it should be. Perhaps our pride gets in the way; we feel we are cheating, simply looking for something to imitate. We feel we shouldn’t “need” inspiration if we are really talented musicians. Or we just get lazy and forget that we can only get so far by feeding on our own fat (although some organists set high value on doing precisely that). Whatever holds us back, it is a mistake; we need to find that joyous 1%. So wake up, look around and get inspired! You may be surprised.

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Anthem Reading Session - Back by Popular Demand!

We will launch our program year on Saturday, September 26 with an Anthem Reading Session, 9:30-1:30 at First Church of Christ in Farmington, 75 Main Street, 06032.  Lunch will be provided. This year we will movee to the organ console after our lunch break to share some of our favorite organ pieces as well. This is a great event to introduce a prospective new member to our friendly AGO chapter, so feel free to invite and bring someone along.

The anthems you bring should be suitable for a small choir. Bring 15+copies, if you can, and we will sight-read them together. You can direct and/or accompany, or someone else will be happy to play. A list will be compiled of the anthems presented - a useful resource for your music planning. If you can’t think of an anthem you would like to bring, just come and sing, have lunch and catch up with your colleagues.

To register for the session, contact Mary DeLibero by Tuesday, Sept. 22. Let her know you are coming, if you are bringing a guest (we will need a head-count for lunch) and what anthem you will share.  

Directions & Parking Suggestions

From I-84. take exit 39. At the end of the exit ramp continue straight for 0.7 miles on Farmington Ave (Route 4 west). Turn left at the next traffic light onto Main St. (Route 10). Pass through one traffic light (at Miss Porters School) and turn left onto Church St. (the street right after First Church’s historic white Meetinghouse). Park in the lot behind the Barney Library adjacent to the Noah Wallace School. From the parking lot walk down the sidewalk to the right of the library to School St. and enter First Church’s Amistad Hall in the center of the building.
There may be limited parking on School Street right beside Amistad Hall and around the curve in front of the Noah Wallace School..

There may be limited parking on School Street right beside Amistad Hall and around the curve in front of the Noah Wallace School.

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News Flash! Chattervox Goes Digital!

In consultation with the editors of Chattervox, the chapter board has decided that our chapter newsletter will go all digital as soon as possible and will be emailed to all chapter members. This is probably the last issue to be printed on paper and sent by postal mail. The new version will have an appealing graphic layout and will include links to make it easy to find local calendar events, sign-up forms, job listings and extended stories. Those of you who already receive Chattervox by email will be reading this in the new format. Let us know what you think!

There will be some major changes to the newsletter while other items will remain the same. Here is what will change:

Local calendar events – those of you who submit information to us about your concerts and other events for listing in the calendar section will no longer be doing that. Instead, you will have access to an online form that you will use to write up your event yourself. Your information will appear in a nicely formatted calendar that will be linked to the e-newsletter and will also be prominently displayed on the chapter website. As part of your listing, you can include a photo as well as links to your website and links to any flyers that you may have posted online. Readers will click a link in the e-newsletter to the online calendar and will see all the information you choose to post. The link to the online submission form will be included in every issue and will be available on the website.

Flyers and Inserts – we will no longer accept paper flyers since there will no longer be a mailed version of the newsletter. The online calendar listing service is free.

Name – The wonderful name of our newsletter for many decades – Chattervox – will be retired with the print version. We will simply refer to the newsletter.

In the new e-newsletter, you will still find the Deanery, Toolbox by Mike Foley, job listings, news about chapter events and members, and lots of photographs. One advantage of catching up with the digital age is easy readability on cellphones. For those who absolutely depend on postal mail, a paper copy will be sent. Hopefully, this new format will appeal to everyone. Your editors welcome your comments and suggestions at

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Pipescreams is Coming Soon!  

Save the date - Friday, October 23rd, 7:00pm,  at Church of Christ, Congregational, 1075 Main St., Newington. It’s time to pull out all those crazy ideas, scary stops and start preparing for our annual Halloween concert. Come join the line-up of very talented organists who will perform favorites that you wouldn’t hear just anywhere. Then, bask in the din of thunderous boos and hisses! Whether you play or not, do come, and don’t forget your costume for the parade! It is sure to be a ghoulish, spine-tingling and frightfully fun evening for all ages! More information to come.

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Regional Convention Review

By Alan MacMillan

The Northeast Regional Convention of 2015, held in New Haven from June 28 through July 1, was a high point in the year for me and I’m sure for many others. Packed full of services, recitals and seminars, and exceedingly well run by members of the New Haven chapter, the convention was a veritable smorgasbord of events. Indeed, this account will necessarily be highly selective inasmuch as no one person could possibly have attended all the concurrent events, and an exhaustive list of those deserving recognition would be too long to enumerate here.
Sunday Evensong at Trinity Church on the Green was a most appropriate way to open the convention: a worship service with a wide variety of music. No fewer than two office hymns in addition to the obligatory final hymn offered opportunities for all to participate. One of these was the recent "One human heart can hold:" a collaboration of Thomas Troeger and John Abdenour, director of the choir of St. Paul's Church, Fairfield. Scott Perkins’ "O Gracious Light," commissioned for the convention, provided an inspired Introit and was beautifully rendered by the combined choirs of the Trinity Choir of Men and Girls and The Choir of St. Paul's. The choirs also sang Psalm 145 to Ivor Atkins’ chant, Howells’ St. Paul’s service, and Balfour Gardiner’s Evening Hymn. Andrew Kotylo, Associate Director of Music at Trinity, was the very able organist for the service. His last minute substitution of Howells “Paean” (a favorite of mine) for final voluntary was a pleasing surprise.
With perhaps too short a break for a proper dinner, it was time to head to Woolsey Hall for what proved to be the most dazzling organ playing of the entire convention. Peter Richard Conte's program of orchestral transcriptions on the incomparable E.M. Skinner organ left one's jaw somewhere below the knees. To watch his feet as well as a left hand which, almost like a contortionist's, never ceased bridging manuals while bringing the contrasting lines of “Wotan's Farewell” and “The Magic Fire Music” from Die Walküre of Wagner, to life with clarity and perpetually changing colors, was an amazing experience. Dupré’s Passion Symphony and Conte’s own transcription of Elgar’s Cockaine Overture filled out the program; the organist dispatching these with equally astonishing virtuosity.
Monday morning, at the United Church on the Green, a regional meeting was held during which individual chapter news was briefly shared by the attending deans. Immediately following, the Convocation consisted of a worship service with an inspiring keynote address by the Rev. Thomas Troeger of Yale Divinity School. Musically, there was some exceptional singing by the Elm City Girl’s Choir whose extraordinary versatility spanned some perfectly idiomatic Byrd, arranged by conductor Tom Brand, to a South African medley complete with drumming and celebratory African vocal effects. The Shoreline Ringers (handbells) as well as Ann Arbor’s Audivi Vocem choir (8 singers including two countertenors and a Russian style basso profundo) contributed equally excellent performances to a most memorable service.
Monday afternoon, at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church, Jeffrey Brillhart, who teaches improvisation to graduate students at Yale, shared his unique approach to teaching with two volunteers from among the attendees. Later that evening at Yale’s Battell Chapel, Brillhart’s performing skills were put to use with a moving and brilliant improvised Postlude on “Divinum Mysterium,”aka: “Of the Father’s Love/Heart Begotten.” Another notable improvisation in a totally different but engaging style based on “Lobe den herren” was offered as a prelude by Anne Laver, Assistant Professor of organ at Syracuse University. This event, entitled “Ev’ry Voice In Concert Ring!: A Festival of Hymns,” was for me the most moving experience of the Convention. The selection of hymns ranged from such basics as: “Praise to the Lord” sung to “Lobe den Herren” and “Love divine, all loves excelling” sung to “Hyfrydol,” to “Our music plumbs,” a 2007 collaboration of Thomas Troeger and Christopher M. Lee. Most hymns in the Festival were preceded by improvised introductions, each by a different organist including James Bobb, Martin Jean, Peter DuBois and Thomas Murray. Marguerite Brooks conducted a combined choir of singers from eight different New Haven churches including members of the New Haven Chorale and “Audivi Vocem” to lead and shore up the congregational singing. Alone, they sang selected verses from the congregational hymns and provided, along with soloist Erin Donaldson, just the right African American Gospel style. Audivi Vocem also sang an elaborate but tasteful a cappella setting of “What Wondrous Love is This” arranged by their director Noah Horn: (imagine, if you will, “hocket” outside late Medieval was there!) A nice touch to “Come thou Fount” sung to “Nettleton,” was the inclusion of a flute and violin played in an appropriate Appalachian folk style. Additionally, local clerics offered prayers and readings related to music in the praise of God interpolated among the hymns.
Tuesday morning’s activities all took place at Yale Divinity School where it was difficult to choose among many interesting events. I settled on what proved to be an illuminating session on coaching and conducting both secco and accompagnato recitatives in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion led by Marguerite Brooks and James Taylor, a prominent Bach Passion - Evangelist tenor. To keep everyone engaged and on their toes, attendees participated vocally by singing the string parts of the accompagnato recits. Although happy with my choices of events at Yale Divinity, I only regret having missed visiting Marquand Chapel and hearing the Krigbaum organ.
In the afternoon, at the bright and spacious St. Francis Roman Catholic Church, Barbara Owen gave us a history of the Hook and Hastings organ Co. Her obvious love for her subject helped communicate a real flavor of 19th century New England. This was followed by an all too brief recital by Joseph Ripka on the twice transplanted Hook and Hastings organ there (Op. 750 -1874). The Bach Prelude and Fugue in C, BWV 545 as well as Franck’s Pastorale gave a good sense of the range of the instrument and were excellently performed by Ripka.
That evening the convention banquet took place at the Omni Hotel, with an ample and tasty buffet dinner. Dr. Joe Utterback and Kristin Huffman brought some needed light entertainment: jazz piano, song and lots of laughs. There was no lingering, however, as directly after dessert it was off to another Catholic church with another H&H organ. The Dominican Friars maintain St. Mary’s and it is a beautiful church, the vaulted ceiling painted a dark red. Here one also found what proved to be a perfect match of instrument and acoustic. As a listener, I would never choose Rheinberger over Messiaen, Dupré or Vierne, but Diane Meredith Belcher made a convincing case for him in her performance of the Sonata No. 8. The final Passacaglia brought the crowd to its feet with many “Bravas.” Richard Dirksen’s transcription of “O God of Love” from John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles must not go unmentioned: a study in mystery and color and played exquisitely by Ms. Belcher.
The next morning, I was privileged to attend a lecture by Yale Prof. Dr. Markus Rathey on “Re-interpreting Luther: Lutheran Chorales in Bach’s Chorale Cantatas and his Organ Works.” The title may sound dauntingly academic, but it was perhaps the most inspiring talk of the convention. Rathey delved into the development of Lutheran theology between the time of Luther and the time of Bach. (We tend to forget that that is some 200 years!) The Pietistic influence in the texts Bach set and his tendency to focus on highly personal expressions of faith are intriguing. Rathey speculated much on Bach’s personal faith without drawing conclusions that could not be proven. Yet his research and knowledge were highly inspirational and left us with thought provoking questions.
The rest of Wednesday involved the choice between a trip to Stonington or a free day in New Haven. I chose the latter having missed out on an earlier trip to Yale’s Gilmore Music Library. There, on display, were the original manuscripts of Hindemith’s 3rd Sonata and Ives’ “Variations on America” along with other treasures dating back to the 17th century. Manuscripts hold a particular fascination for me; somehow bringing a sense of the composer’s personality just a bit closer.
The final evening was spent back at Woolsey Hall where it was Thomas Murray’s turn at the Newbury Memorial organ. Rheinberger was again represented with the 3rd Sonata, a more diminutive offering than the 8th played by Ms. Belcher, but impressive at the patrician hands of Murray. A tribute to Yale composers included Bruce Simonds evocative “Iam sol recedit igneus” as well as the second convention commission: Christopher Theofanidis’s “All joy wills eternity” (2015). This was clearly a work of its time, but not without appealing lyrical qualities. The composer was present and received a warm greeting and a hug from the performer.
A reception back at the hotel brought to a close a convention so rich in experience that it will not soon be forgotten.

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Godspeed to Jason Charneski

Our native son and longtime member, Jason Charneski, has accepted a position at the Rye Presbyterian Church in Rye, NY after 14 years at Center Church in Hartford and prior positions at Bethany Covenant Church in Berlin and his home church, Trinity Covenant in Plainville. Jason grew up in Plainville and studied with Lorraine Revelle, Ed Clark and Rick Coffey before heading off to Eastman School of Music and the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. We knew he was destined for great things, but we got used to him being around and involved in committees and music endeavors of all sorts. His biggest task was chairing the 2013 Regions I & II AGO convention in Hartford. Now he has been called to a wonderful opportunity just beyond the Connecticut border and, with a tinge of sadness, we wish him all the best. It’s not too far, Jason. Come back and visit!

The Tool Box

By Mike Foley

What will it bring? What changes are possible? I have my own church choir/organ and these questions are always on my mind when it all cranks up again. From the standpoint of the organ, perhaps consider at least one of the following:

A key ring that has all the keys necessary for organ repair:  
  • Choir Loft
  • Console
  • Blower Room
At least hang this ring in the church’s key-box. Perhaps give a copy to the firm caring for the instrument? If you’re comfortable with them, perhaps even include a key to an exterior entrance door.

Chamber Lights: Nothing speeds organ service more than good lighting. Properly done, this may not be too cheap but you’ll reap the benefits from shortened future service might find a bit more detail in service visits too. If nothing else, replace the burned out bulbs.

Learn how to use the HOLD feature on the electronic thermostat.

Find the blower!  Is the room clean? Lighted? Is it being used for storage of everything from Christmas trees to Manger scenes? Is the blower even accessible? Think about it. This machine is the heart of your instrument. If and when it cannot run you may be in for some sizeable repair bills. Ask your techs to be sure the motor’s lubricated. If they don’t know how or just don’t “do it”, then call a qualified motor repair firm and have them do it.

Consider some basic (and sometimes simple) fixes:
  • Are the swell shades closing 100%?
  • Are you missing some important pedal notes?
  • Do all the piston buttons work?
  • Tremolos?
Talk with your tech. Happy New Year!  

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