Here we stand at the edge of another December,
a month of many concerts, services, extra
music, extra worry, and I hope for us all,
some meaningful rest after the work is done.
This year, as in years past, many of us will
make use of the musical arrangements of Sir
David Willcocks, whose death in September
prompted many to realize that Christmas,
for much of English-speaking Christendom,
relies heavily upon his work. Many have commented
that our performances and offerings of his
carol settings will be poignant this year,
knowing as we do that he rests on another
shore, and in a greater light.
Every once in a while, I hear a choral album
from a group that has decided to forgo the
Willcocks in favor of another descant for
Adeste Fideles, Forest Green, Mendelssohn,
or any of the other Christmas favorites.
It’s rather like being driven a roundabout
way home by a taxi driver who doesn’t
know the City; I wish he had just gone the
usual way, and however many interesting sights
there are on the new route, I can’t
help but think the familiar turns and stops
would have been best. But then again, I am
an old stick-in-the-mud! In any case, we
will be celebrating the genius of the only
possible contender for the imaginary title
of “Mr. Christmas Music” for
many Christmases to come. I hope those of
us who use his works to bring joy and hope
to congregations this season shall cast a
thought aside to his memory, in gratitude.
Your New York City Chapter, by time-honored
custom, does not hold any events in December.
We are at work on the 2015-2016 directory
and election procedures in the background,
but the results of those efforts lie in the
future. For the moment, it is left to me
only to wish you a Merry Christmas, whether
you are a Starbucks customer or not, a Happy
Chanukah if you are minded to celebrate it,
and best wishes for any other observances
you may hold. In my own tradition, we await
the coming of the Christ child through a
quiet, holy, and thoughtful Advent, till
the angels’ song rings out in glory
and pleads for peace on earth. God help us,
let it be so.
Upcoming Chapter Events
Monday, January 18, 2015: Improvisation Symposium
with Justin Bischof at Holy Trinity RC Church. 4:45
PM masterclass; 6:45 PM concert.
Presidents’ Day 2016: An American in Paris: Nineteenth-Century
French Organ Music.
Sunday, February 14, 2016 – 5 PM organ concert at
the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. Ray Nagem, organist.
Monday, February 15, 2016 – Conference at Saint Ignatius
Loyola. Lectures by Sebastian Glück and Gundula Kreuzer.
Masterclass by Matthew Lewis. Performances by Renée
Louprette and Jeremy Filsell.
Saturday, March 12, 2016: 3 PM Pedals, Pipes & Pizza at
the Church of Saint James, Madison Avenue. 5 PM performance
by NYC AGO 2015 Competition winner Colin MacKnight.
Loraine Enlow, chair of PP&P committee.
Late May 2016: Season Finale Chapter Dinner. Venue TBA. David
Hurd, guest speaker.
Improvisation Symposium with Justin Bischof
Our fifth event of the 2015-16 season takes the form of our annual
Improvisation Symposium on Monday, January 18, 2015.
Dr. Justin Bischof will give a masterclass at 4:45 PM, and
a solo improvisation concert at 6:45 PM concert. Our venue
is the gloriously resonant Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church
(Andrew Yeargin, host), and its equally magnificent III/38
Orgues Létourneau, Op. 53 (1997) instrument. To
read more about the organ and the church, please click here.
As part of our ongoing commitment to further education to
our Chapter membership, Dr. Bischof will give a masterclass
as part of the symposium. If you would like to be considered
as a participant for the masterclass, please
email me by clicking here.
"Music doesn't lie. If there is something
to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through
—Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970)
In September of 1957, West Side
Story opened at the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway near
50th Street. With music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen
Sondheim (his Broadway debut), and choreography by Jerome
Robbins, that dramatic and powerful show opened a new chapter
in the American Music Theater. Nearly 60 years later, many
of the songs have become classics, and the show has remained
as powerful as ever. The most recent revival presented 748
performances from 2009 to 2011, selling nearly 1,100,000
Wendy and I saw Hamilton a couple weeks ago. A three-hour
hip-hop musical on the life of Alexander Hamilton? ... But
we were captivated by the brilliant staging and dancing,
the clever and often hilarious lyrics, the energetic singing,
and the forever changing music. It's not all Hip-Hop. Each
character or situation had its own musical genre.
The character development was terrific. Imagine Thomas Jefferson
as an African-American man dressed in purple tails, reminiscent
of The Artist (Formerly Known as Prince). We agreed that
the show was stolen several times by the appearances of (Mad)
King George III, who delivered wicked sarcasm about the choice
of the American Colonies to forsake the care of the benevolent
Royalty ("...so you're going to change leaders every
few years? Good luck with that!"), dressed in red velvet
and a sparkly crown, mincing about to strains the reminded
me of The Beatles' Sargeant Pepper: "Oceans rise, empires
fall, we have seen each other through it all. And when push
comes to shove, I'll send a fully armed battalion to remind
you of my love..."
I admit I was skeptical. And there was not one moment in
the full three hours when the music was too soft. But somewhat
to my surprise, it was spellbinding, as compelling a theater
experience as I can remember. It was fresh and new, vibrant
and exciting - a multi-cultural experience.
I'm not proposing Hip-Hop for the organ, at least I don't
think so! But fresh and new, vibrant and exciting is good.
We're in Advent now, with Christmas lurking just over the
horizon, days when innovation and change are anathema to
many. But let me plant a bug in your ear - how can the pipe
organ world move from 2015 to 2016 with an eye for its strong
of the Month
You Be My Neighbor?
Alternate Side Parking is as much a part of life
in Manhattan as the corner bodega and $17 cocktails. It's a
dance peculiar to this city, requiring patience and skill,
inciting disbelief from out-of-town visitors. With a honk or
two from the sweeper, a dozen motorists put down their bagels
and newspapers, and execute that parallel maneuver allowing
the sweeper to pass and winding up back in their spaces, safe
from fees and fines for three days.
We live on East 9th Street where there are 2-hour meters and
no ASP, so I have to go several blocks away to find free parking.
I've heard that it's possible to forget where you left your
car, so I write a note in iCal with the street address, and
a reminder for the time of the next dance.
Last week, I parked at 313 East 9th Street, just east of 2nd
Avenue, and as I recorded the address, I noticed a plaque on
the wall of the house informing us that the Argentine composer
Astor Piazzola (1921-1992) lived there until 1936, when he
was fifteen years old. According to his biography (click on
the photo to see the link...) he was an imp, expelled from
Public School 92, and continuing at a school on 11th Street
at 2nd Avenue run by Salesian Nuns. He was athletic as well
as musical, and took his Bandoneon to school "to impress
It's fun to think of a teenaged Piazzola laying the groundwork
for his beguiling music while chasing girls a couple blocks
from here. Maybe we should call the ASP dance a Tango.
I wondered what other cultural icons might have lived on our
street, so I Googled about a bit and wasn't disappointed. William
Sydney Porter (aka O. Henry) wrote 381 short stories while
living at 45 East 9th, just a few numbers from us, and Maurice
Sendak wrote Where the Wild Things Are in his home at 27 West
9th Street. E. B. White lived on Washington Mews, an attractive
little alley that runs between University and Fifth Avenues
a half block south of East 9th.
Great creative minds have lived in virtually every neighborhood
of this city. There's inspiration waiting at every street corner.
Don't block the box - think outside it!
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