Ago Chapter News

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Berkshire, Mass. Jan. 6, members gathered for a potluck meal, a midwinter business meeting, and some informal Twelfth Night entertainment at the home of John Cheney in Pittsfield. The entertainment included the singing of the "Boar's Head Carol," with a life-sized papier-mache boar's head carried in on a platter, the singing of "The Twelve Days After Christmas," and a new anthem commissioned for the 80th birthday of John Cheney, "Awake, My Soul, and Sing" by Allen Pote (soon to be published by Morningstar). Feb. 17, the chapter and the Berkshire Bach Society cosponsored a recital titled "Bach Before Forty" played by organist Peter Sykes at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Pittsfield (Joy Mullen, host). - Nancy King


Central New Jersey. Feb. 23, the chapter's annual choralreading seminar was held at West Trenton Presbyterian Church, where Sub-dean Mark Williams, the church's organist, was the host for the session and lunchtime discussion. Dean Camilla Jarnot had obtained anthems from Hinshaw Music and the Lorenz Company. Twelve members and two guests, along with Chaplain Greg Smith, enjoyed singing through the packet of materials and three anthems brought by Kathleen Connolly. During a brownbag lunch, a wide-ranging discussion focused on a number of welcome suggestions for programs for the 2013-14 season. A later topic raised by past dean June Tipton considered the dearth of accessible newly composed music for congregations and volunteer choirs. This lack of a congenial musical style was seen as one factor in the falling off in attendance experienced by the mainline denominations.

- Mary Giordmaine

Metropolitan New Jersey. Jan. 21, the Presbyterian Church (Mary Lou Stevens, host organist) and Bishop Janes United Methodist Church (Connie Schmalz, host organist) in Basking Ridge provided the settings for the chapter's mini-convention, "The Church Organist in the 21st Century," which was cosponsored with the Newark chapter of NPM. Donald Meineke from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in New York City added "Spice to Hymn Playing." Deborah King shared "Choral Techniques for Volunteer Choirs," and Martin Tel explored "Psalms for All Seasons." In the afternoon, Patrick Murphy spoke on "How to Build or Rebuild an Organ," and Joe Arndt focused on Benjamin Britten's music in "Accompanying and Conducting from the Console." Recitals were given at the end of the day by Jim Little and Joe Arndt at Bishop Janes United Methodist Church, while Eric Olsen and Trent Johnson performed their own compositions at the Presbyterian Church. Kudos and accolades to the planning committee (Mary Lou Stevens, Connie Schmalz, Preston Dibble, Gordon King, Jim Little, and Joe Arndt) for an exceptional day. - Bev McGregor

Ocean County, N. …