March 2012 Newsletter

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The Opus – March 2012 – PDF file

David Pickering Featured Organist March 26, 2012

Date: Monday, March 26, 2012
Event: Recital by Dr. David Pickering
Location: Trinity Episcopal Church
600 North Euclid Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63108
Time: 6:30 PM – Dinner at the church
7:30 PM – Recital
Host: Jeff Nall
Cost: $10 for dinner
Reservations Kathleen Bolduan (314-725-1251 or
(Please confirm reservation by March, 21, 2012)
Driving Directions:
From the intersection of Kingshighway and Lindell: Turn east on Lindell Blvd., as if heading toward downtown St. Louis. Drive two blocks and turn left (north) on Euclid. The church is located six blocks north of Lindell Blvd. on the right-hand corner of Euclid and Washington.

Our March program will be at Trinity Episcopal Church, 600 North Euclid Ave-nue, St. Louis, MO 63108. There will be a catered dinner at 6:30 PM followed by the recital at 7:30 PM.

Dr. David Pickering is assistant professor of music at Kansas State University and organist at First Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, KS. He is an active recitalist and was a featured at the AGO Region VI Organ Festival in Des Moines, IA last summer. He has performed throughout the United States and Canada, including such prestigious venues as the Community of Christ Auditorium and Temple, Independence, MO; the Mormon Tabernacle and Conference Center, Salt Lake City, UT; Princeton University Chapel, Princeton, NJ; and Washington National Cathedral and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC.

Pickering has authored articles in The American Organist and The Diapason. His first book, The Auditorium Organ of the Community of Christ, is slated for publication in the near future by the Organ Historical Society Press. Dr. Pickering received the doctor of musical arts degree in organ performance (2001) and a master’s degree (2000) in organ performance and musicology from the University of Kansas as a student of James Higdon. He received his bachelor of music degree in organ performance from Brigham Young University. He and his wife Melinda are the parents of six children.

The program will feature the 2009 Quimby II/24 instru-ment at Trinity Episcopal Church. The church has, from its beginning in 1855 enjoyed a rich musical tradition. The parish enjoys the talents of many individuals who use sacred music to enhance the Anglo-Catholic liturgy. As the previous instrument grew tired, the organ committee and the Rev. Anne H. Kelsey, rector, looked to many builders and ultimately chose Quimby Pipe Organs to build the two-manual, 24-rank organ. The specification was prepared by Jeffrey Nall, organist, William “Pat” Partridge, canon musician at Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis, consultant, and Quimby Pipe Organs. We are fortunate to live in a community that appreciates the value of pipe organs and continues to commission new instruments.

The instrument is an Electro-pneumatic slider instrument completed in April, 2009. Details from the builder include:

Quimby Pipe Organs electro-pneumatic slider windchests based on the Blackinton design for all ranks that are not extended. Construction style assures reliable operation without the use of slider seals. Electro-pneumatic pouch windchests for all reed ranks with Primaries for all reed pipes, extended ranks, and pedal ranks. Two-manual drawknob console with naturals covered in synthetic plastic like used on Steinway pianos, and sharps in ebony, pedal sharps of rosewood. Manuals, drawknob units, coupler units, and swell shoes by Harris Precision Products. Adjustable bench with crank height mechanism. Peterson ICS 4000 control system for all key and stop functions. Peterson ICS 4000, 99 level combination action and piston sequencer. Swell shade 2″ thick laminate sugar pine construction with pivots on ball bearings.

— Dr. Bill Wade, Sub-Dean

From the St. Louis Chapter Dean…

Celebrate March Madness

I want to discuss March Madness. March is here, Spring is just around the corner and the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament, known as March Madness, is about to take place. This momentous occasion will determine the national champions in the top tier of college basketball.

Every year, 68 teams compete in this event. They compete in four regions. Teams are eliminated until four teams remain, the so called Final Four, and they battle it out in the finals. It is curious to note that no matter who comes out on top, all four teams receive a trophy.

Holy Week and Easter don’t always follow March but this year the four weeks of March will terminate and the great Triduum of Easter will commence. I refer to those four weeks as March Madness. The Final Four, no matter when they fall, affect organists annually. We face the frenzied scramble of pre-Easter musical preparation. There is a lot to do. Time is of the essence! Combine this busy time of the year with a full-time job and family life, and the result could easily be Maddening.

The term March Madness is a registered trademark of the NCAA, but I do not think they would mind if we borrowed the term. We could substitute any term to describe those weeks of anxiety, urgency and chaos. Call it Madcap March or why not March Mania. We’ve all experienced it and can identify with it.

This year, I‘d like to suggest a new way of looking at March Madness. Consider yourself an athlete. You have been chosen by your congregation, or better yet, by the overseer of the universe to participate in a great tournament. Each week you will rehearse, practice and compete at levels of peek performance. Your efforts will culminate in the final round where you contribute musical offerings at the top tier of the liturgical year. No matter where you place, your trophy will be hundreds of smiling faces. The people who are touched by your music and the celebration of the day.

— Henry Evans, Dean

100 for 100 Progress (lack of) Report:

Your co-editors will be making a heroic effort to cull through their respective music libraries for contributions to this list. HOWEVER, after eliminating the out-of-print “musty-dustybut- treasured-anyway” materials, we wonder if we can make up the deficit of approximately 80 contributions.


Nancy Barbee and Henry Evans, Eds.

A Tribute to Gerre Hancock

By Kathleen Thomerson

I first met Gerre and heard him play the organ in the summer of 1952 at the University of Texas at Austin, where I was auditioning at the School of Music. For the next two years we were in almost every class together, even the non-music ones such as the required (and dreaded) course on U.S. Government. He learned music easily, had excellent technique and was an exciting performer. For either his sophomore or junior recital he played Dupré’s “Variations on a Noel” and commented that he actually had to practice the right hand part of Variation 5 (Vivace) in order to get it up to tempo. On the recital he somehow played the first ending again on the repetition, and had to continue playing through in order to finish. He complained afterwards, “The hardest part of that program, and I had to play it 3 times! When I heard myself going back, I thought I’d had it!” But he didn’t miss a note.

Gerre was a gifted improviser, even as an undergraduate. During our junior year, 1953-54, he was asked to play a recital on a newly rebuilt Otto Hofmann instrument in central Texas. It was a small two-manual organ, so Gerre included some literature he hadn’t memorized at school. At the last minute his roommate, a voice major, decided to drive over and asked me to come. He wanted to surprise Gerre, and we took our seats just before the recital started. I was the one who was surprised when Gerre played Bach’s chorale prelude on “Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein”, BWV 734. Not only was it a work I hadn’t heard him play before, but only the first 2 or 3 measures were written by JSB! The pedal cantus firmus was correct, but otherwise it was obviously a piece newly discovered by Gerre. It was in perfect Bach counterpoint, too, with the right hand dashing about with all those running 16th notes. The audience was none the wiser, and applauded heartily. After the recital he was startled to see us, and admitted that he arrived for the recital only to discover that the chorale prelude music was still in Austin. No sweat, he’d just improvise it. He was quite relaxed, as he thought no one would know the difference.

One other improvisation memory: At the end of the school year the music majors gave a scholarship benefit concert. Gerre was a hit as he played the grand piano in the style of Liberace. He did all the “showman” tricks, and started by coming up on stage via the slowly ascending piano lift in the middle of the platform—with lit candelabra. Later in the program he and I improvised an organ duet on Gershwin’s “I’ve Got Rhythm.” Gerre picked the song, and I thought we’d at least practice by playing it through once, but he just said, “Oh, you know how the melody goes!” Before we went onstage, he said, “OK, we start in G and then go to F and then do a pedal cadenza—all 4 feet. I’ll sit on the left side of the organ bench, and you take the right.” Once we were playing, I saw that meant he had control of the harmonies and modulations. He’d yell to me, “E Flat!” or “Now B Major!” and off he went. At least I made him wait on me during the pedal cadenza, as we happily stomped about.

After graduation we took separate paths, but Gerre was always a friend. When my husband Jim decided to go to Texas Tech for a Masters in Geology, it was at exactly the time when Gerre was leaving Lubbock to go to Union Theological Seminary in New York City for a Masters in Sacred Music. He arranged for me to take his church and teaching job for two years in Lubbock, which was a big help to us.

Over the years I looked forward to hearing him play recitals and services whenever our paths crossed, and to visiting with Judith and Gerre on my trips to New York City. My husband and I moved to Austin in 1999 after his retirement from SIU-E. Much to our delight, Gerre and Judith were appointed to the music faculty at UT in 2004, moved to Austin, and re-established the Sacred Music program here. Not only could I hear them play again but also hear the progress of their excellent students.

It was a shock to learn of Gerre’s death on January 21, just as much as it was a shock to you in St. Louis who had looked forward to his playing at the Cathedral Basilica, scheduled for January 22 and cancelled after his heart attack. Many of you may have heard the Solemn Requiem Eucharist service at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York City on Feb. 4, as it is available on the St. Thomas website. A memorial service celebrating his life was held on Feb. 14 in Austin at Bates Recital Hall on the UT campus, hosted by the Butler School of Music and College of Fine Arts. After a brilliant performance of Bach’s “Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor” played by Todd Wilson, a former student of Gerre, we watched a short video as Gerre talked of his love for the pipe organ and for teaching. You may see this two-and-a-half hour film by typing “Longhorn Network The Legacy of an Organist and Professor” into Google or another search engine. The Longhorn Network is for sports events at the university, but they also have some musical events and faculty interviews!

The tributes in Austin were heartfelt, and also of outstanding musical quality. Dr. Chandler, Director of the Butler School of Music, spoke eloquent-ly. One of the other speakers recalled that Gerre was a happy man and a man of faith in God. Student Charles Ludwick recalled telling Dr. Hancock that he was a little frightened to play for him. The reply was, “Oh, don’t be nervous. It’s just your Uncle Gerre here listening.”

The closing music was the very difficult “Toccata,” Gerre’s last-published organ piece (Oxford University Press, 2002). Todd Wilson’s performance evoked a standing ovation, and that loud ovation was also for the life of Gerre Hancock.


Is this the year when you are ready to test for certification with the American Guild of Organists? Perhaps you would like to take the examination for the Service Playing Certificate. That test may be taken any time before April 29. Maybe the Colleague exam is the right level for you: CAGO tests are May 11 and November 16, 2012. The Choir Mas-ter Examination is set for June 6, and those testing for Associateship andFellowship will test on June 7 and 8.

There is at least one member of the AGO taking an exam this coming year—why not join in? Examinations are open to members and non-members. Contact Dawn Riske with any questions,, (314)397-2651. For more details and a complete listing of requirements, see the July issue of The American Organist or look online at

Upcoming Concerts


Thursday, March 1 — 8:00 p.m.
Chanticleer—The GRAMMY® Award-winning vocal ensemble Chanticleer returns to the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. Don’t miss your chance to hear this “orchestra of voices” in live per-formance. Call 314-533-7662 for more information or visit

Sunday, March 4, — 3:00 p.m.
Simpatico Quartet–Join us for an afternoon of ladies quartet music! Simpatico Quartet is a fun-loving quartet whose love of music shines through whenever they sing. The ladies enjoy performing out in the community and are available for Singing Valentines, birthdays, holidays, and special events. By day, disguised as ordinary citizens, Simpatico can be found posing as a bank executive, an accountant, a stay-at-home mom, and a counselor retiree. Simpatico is proud to be part of the Heart of Missouri Sweet Adelines. St. John’s United Church of Christ, Collinsville, IL . An excerpt from Simpatico may be heard at

Saturday, March 24 — 7:30 p.m.
“A Russian Spring” featuring Rachmaninov’s Vespers Saint Louis Abbey Church, West Saint Louis County The Masterworks Chorale, Dr. Stephen Mager, conductor Ticket and venue information at

March 25 – 10:15 am
Chanson du Soir – Chelsea Camille, soprano and David Isaacs, guitar Traditional Worship Services. Webster Groves Presbyter-ian Church, 45 West Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, MO 63119. Contact: Shawn Portell, Director of Music Minis-tries/Sr. Organist.

Sunday, March 25 – 3:00 p.m.
Saint Clare Catholic Church, O’Fallon, Illinois “A Russian Spring” featuring Rachmaninov’s Vespers The Masterworks Chorale, Dr. Stephen Mager, conductor Ticket and venue information at

Sunday March 25 — 4:00 p.m.
Chanson du Soir, a California-based duo with soprano Chelsea Camille and guitarist David Isaacs, will present a concert on at Second Presbyterian Church, 4501 Westminster Place, St. Louis, MO 63108. For further information, call 314-367-0366. The concert is free and open to the public.


Maundy Thursday, April 5 — 7:00 p.m.
Taize Service (Communion and Tenebrae) Webster Groves Presbyterian Church, 45 West Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, MO 63119. Contact: Shawn Portell, Director of Music Ministries/Sr. Organist.

Easter Sunday, April 8 — 10:15 a.m.
Lockwood Brass – Traditional Worship Services Webster Groves Presbyterian Church, 45 West Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, MO 63119. Contact: Shawn Portell, Director of Music Ministries/Sr. Organist.

Friday, April 13 — 8:00 p.m.
Stile Antico—Cathedral Concerts presents another first to St. Louis audiences—Stile Antico in their St. Louis debut perfor-mance. STILE ANTICO is an ensemble of young British singers, now established as one of the most original and exciting new voices of early music. Prizewinners at the 2005 Early Music Network International Young Artists’ Competition, the group is much in demand in concert, performing regularly throughout Europe and North America. Call 314-533-7662 for more information or visit

Sunday, April 15 — 3:00 p.m.
“April in Paris” – A springtime afternoon of French music and desserts. Saint Paul United Church of Christ, Belleville, Illinois. The Masterworks Children’s Choruses, Dr. Stephen Mager, conductor. Ticket and venue information at

Positions Available

The Masterworks Chorale, Stephen Mager, conductor, announces openings for professional section leaders in all voice parts, effective immediately. The ideal candidate will have extensive vocal training and additional study in an instrument. Experience in choral singing and competency in music reading are required. The position entails a regular commitment to the Chorale, with the possibility of concert solo assignments. The Masterworks Chorale rehearses September- May on Tuesday evenings, 7-9:30 p.m. at Southwestern Illinois College, Belleville, Illinois. Inquiries: Please contact chorus manager Christa Jenkins at For further information about the Masterworks Chorale, visit

Faith Lutheran Church, 520 E US Highway 50 O’Fallon, IL is seeking an organist to serve as a partner in ministry. This person will play for all liturgical services and accompany the 50-member Senior Choir. This includes two services per Sunday, Christmas Eve, Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday at a minimum salary of $75 per service; Wednesday evening services during Advent and Lent at a minimum salary of $50 per service; and choir accompaniment at a minimum salary of $50 per rehearsal. Final salary would be determined by experience and qualifications. Additional non-liturgical piano accompaniment for such events as Jazzfest, Polkafest, and Mardi Gras would be available but not required. The organist would work with the Music Director to maintain and enhance the music ministry at Faith Lutheran Church. All interested and qualified musicians may submit a letter of application that includes a resume and salary history to by March 30, 2012.