Magazine article The Tracker

From the CEO

Magazine article The Tracker

From the CEO

Article excerpt

Dear Friends,

Here it is, February, and in Washington, D.C., we've had our first major snowstorm. Perhaps the only one of the season, but it was a doozy, and I found that being housebound for a few days was quite wonderful. I made my way through the charming OHS Philadelphia Hymnal assembled by our enterprising Publications Director, Rollin Smith. He included Francis Hopkinson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and a wholly influential figure in the early days of the Republic. His song "My Days Have Been So Wondrous Free" (1759) is the earliest surviving secular American composition. His songs and hymns were found in the libraries of Thomas Jefferson and Nellie Custis, and President Harry Truman's daughter, Margaret, recorded an LP that included a group of Hopkinson songs. Amazing! Philadelphia, and a hymnodist signer of the Declaration of Independence!

The plan is to use this Hymnal as the basis for a hymn-sing, put together by Smith and played by the beloved Philadelphia organist Michael Stairs. Both these men have a special fondness for hymns that were composed in the host city of our Diamond Anniversary Convention. The hymn-sing takes place at Tindley Temple, built for the Methodist Episcopal congregation led by the Reverend Charles Albert Tindley, composer of many gospel hymns; his first published, "I'll Overcome Some Day," served as the basis of the great civil rights hymn "We Shall Overcome." Tindley Temple funding was secured through the friendship between Tindley and the great department store owner, John Wanamaker, himself a publisher of hymnals that he sold cheaply-or gave away.

A great philanthropist who brought the fabulous organ, built in 1904 for the Saint Louis World's Fair, to his store in Philadelphia, Wanamaker had his own favorite hymns, and I believe we are likely to be treated to some of them at the hymn-sing. I wonder if we will use any of the four "Amens" contributed by the longtime organist at Longwood Gardens, Firmin Swinnen? A couple of them will take a little rehearsal-something our usual gathering of happy singers will gladly undertake.

This is 2016-a great year for The Organ Historical Society. In 2016, we celebrate our Diamond Anniversary and move forward to work on every aspect of our Mission Statement. I hope you'll read it again:

The Organ Historical Society celebrates, preserves, and studies the pipe organ in America in all its historic styles, through research, education, advocacy, and music.

Of course, you'll say-but I urge you to read it carefully. It's rather newly crafted to mirror our activities. Yes- the pipe organ is central to our mission. In 1956, however, it was the concern that we might lose our great heritage of 19th-century instruments that brought our founding members together. And so "the pipe organ in America in all its historic styles" is now the statement we proclaim and espouse. There is nothing available, nothing else in the marketplace that proclaims "like a pipe organ" that has not been achieved by digital sampling, i.e. copying, the work of the true builders, the creators of this glorious musical instrument-the pipe organ. Our great builders learn from one another, and they certainly do learn from the great bounty of historic instruments available around the world and from those in the United States, including Goodrich, Appleton, and Hook & Hastings. And also from those builders that were until only recently passed by, such as E. …

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