Archive for the 'Among Our Members/Colleagues' Category

Dr Ken Wolf – in memoriam

Oct. 21st 2011

It was with great sadness that we learned of the loss of our long-time friend and music colleague Dr. Merrill Kenneth (“Kenny”) Wolf.  Dr. Wolf died June 27 2011 of congestive heart failure and renal failure in his Berlin, Mass. home.  He was 79.  Much information is available heralding his medical and research accomplishments, but little has been revealed about his musical endeavors.

Born in Cleveland (1931) to very supportive parents, Kenny was a child prodigy pianist by the age of 2, with public performances by age 5 and composed a symphony at age 8.  Life Magazine featured him on the cover as the “Yale Prodigy” multi-talented whiz-kid who at the time held the Guinness World Record for being the youngest college graduate ever at age 14.  He chose Yale because he wanted to study composition with Paul Hindemith, but initially had been rejected for admission to Yale based on his young age.  His compositions during his college years were avant-garde, but Kenny’s piano repertoire was centered in the classics.  After graduating, he realized that a career as a concert pianist (as excellent a performer as he was) was not the best strategy because he felt he had small hands that wouldn’t accommodate the wide-reach demands of virtuosic repertoire.  He turned to the study of medicine and blossomed as a neuro-anatomist. He was known internationally for his research on central nervous system myelination and he was a founding professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, from which he retired in 2008 as a professor emeritus.

Kenny did not abandon music, however—he refined his performance skills in piano, harpsichord, and pipe organ, not to mention a great interest in music history and musicology.  It was while performing a piano concert at Radcliffe College he met his wife Emily of 52 years.

He was fascinated by, and a scholar of, the German organist and composer Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901) because of his musical inventiveness and harmonic richness, and he played all 20 of the existing organ sonatas (Rheinberger died before completing the cycle of 24, one in each major and minor key).

Spending summers in Wentworth, NH, he began an annual concert series in 1973 at the Wentworth Congregational Church (on the common) continuing for about 35 years (he had to repeat some of the Rheinberger sonatas, one each concert!), with a private reception following at his and Emily’s summer home there.  During that period he supported the maintenance of the instrument (Hook II/7, 1878, Op 909, originally in Trinity Church, Bristol RI)  by Bob Newton of Andover which included some minor tonal revisions to make the instrument brighter.   The instrument had been damaged in 1972 by a major leak during roof repairs, and there had been considerable discussion suggesting disposal of the Hook (it was essentially totaled by the water damage). Kenny was a major voice in convincing the church to have it repaired;  otherwise it likely would have been scrapped.  The initial concert of the Wentworth Summer Series was the inaugural concert for the restored instrument and unknown at the time, this was Kenny’s first public organ performance.  Because he had been an accomplished piano keyboard performer, his first performances at the organ console had him concentrating on his feet (he had the music memorized).  He had had only two organ lessons in his lifetime, and those were in Washington DC while he was there working at the NIH.

They sold their house and left behind Wentworth once a neighboring lumber mill came to town that he felt disturbed the peaceful nature of the community.  However, he continued for several years to present annual recitals to an appreciative audience, most always from memory.  Lois Regestein continued the tradition in subsequent concerts there.

In 1989, Kenny presented a series of piano recitals at his Berlin residence’s music room to celebrate the 150th birth year of Rheinberger.  In addition, he gave an organ recital at the First Congregational Church in Boylston, Mass. (at that period in time, the church was unlocked, so he frequently practiced there). His verbal program notes were detailed and enthusiastic, and his musical performances connected with his audiences.  He was a member of the American Guild of organists for many years and a strong supporter of organ concerts in the Central Mass. region.

One of his organ compositions (written for the 25th anniversary concert in the Wentworth series) was performed at the Worcester 1999 regional convention at All Saints Church by Tom Murray: “Variations on Wentworth” (fondly dedicated to his previous summer home in New Hampshire, with the subtitle “… or some fun with Wentworth”). He wrote two piano sonatas (also playable on harpsichord), one of which was premièred by the late concert pianist Theodore Lettvin on his concert tours.  The second sonata was a birthday present to Emily.

Although Dr. Wolf might have appeared intimidating from afar, he was warm and engaging in conversation, and intensely enthusiastic in conversations regarding his many interests.  He was well read and highly cultured.

We will miss this brilliant man and dear colleague.

A Celebration of Life gathering was held  November 3 at UMass Medical School. Remembrances will be offered by Tom Murray and colleagues at U Mass along with a video of his last house concert from Aug 2010 where he performed the last movement of Mozart’s Sonata in B-flat K.333.

Lois Toeppner, Tom Murray, John Skelton, and Emily Wolf at the U Mass tribute.

Deb O’Driscoll attains SPC-level certificate – Congratulations!

Aug. 24th 2011
Deborah O’Driscoll at the Wesley UMC Skinner Console where she took the AGO exam. 

With several run-throughs for practicing to take the Service Playing Certificate exam, Deb O’Driscoll successfully accomplished this milestone in her music career.  With tests that paralleled the parts of a typical religious service, she performed the assigned repertoire (applicable for a prelude or postlude), hymn playing as if she was accompanying a congregation, and accompanying two anthems that she had chosen from a given list. She had selected Bach, Buxtehude, and Schroeder selections from the exam rules list, and she was grateful for the opportunity to focus on these to refine her interpretation and performance.

The hardest part, she says, was not the transposition (up or down a half step), but rather the sight reading of eight bars (two staves for manuals alone, that included some rests and a few accidentals).  She had practiced sight reading various sources of materials, and even with a slow, steady tempo, it’s a lot of pressure to look-ahead while keeping the beat going. But she did it!

She began studying organ as an adult some 14 years ago, and  credits her success in part to lessons with Marjorie Ness, and previous guild workshops in service playing with Cheryl Duerr and Ken Grinnell.


Beatrice Daby: In Memoriam

Jul. 21st 2011

Words of remembrance, by Marjorie Ness

Beatrice Clark Daby was born and raised in Worcester, MA. She was adopted by the Clark family, relatives to her biological mother. The Clarks saw to her musical education and she was eternally grateful to them for that. She was an accomplished pianist who later took up the organ. She married Walter Daby, an artist from Worcester, and together they shared artistic experiences through painting and music. She had two children, one of whom lived to adulthood: Norma Daby of New Orleans.
Beatrice studied the organ with Stephen Long, Leroy Hanson, Marjorie Ness and Scott Lamlein. If she had other teachers I did not know of them. Her scores were full of marks from the “wonderful lessons with Stephen and Leroy”. For several years she served the congregation of Grace Baptist Church, Haarlem Street, Worcester, as organist choir director. That congregation has since disbanded and sold their building.
She was a member of Wesley United Methodist Church, Worcester, and played in the bell choir as well as sang in the Wesley Choir during different periods in her life after her work at Grace Baptist Church. She was active in the United Methodist Women and held office for them at times.
Beatrice and Walter loved Worcester. They often took long walks in the parks and outlying towns which subsequently became subject matter for Walter’s paintings. Annually they took trips to the Cape Cod Seashore to walk the trails and soak in nature. When I first knew her (post 1995) they would be excited about traveling to see Norma in New Orleans, but soon the trips became difficult to make.
After Walter’s death in 2003, Beatrice sold her home and moved to Highland House, Worcester to a smaller apartment. She kept her piano and I would occasionally respond to her request to come and play duets. Beatrice had many friends and Lois Hagberg is certainly among her closest organist friends.
For the last 3 years she played in Salisbury Belles at First Baptist Church, Worcester. After her diagnosis of Cancer she spent time at Oakdale Rehabilitation center and when she was strong enough she moved, as formerly planned, to New Orleans to be near her daughter. She was doing well until she fell and fractured her pelvis. Then after she recovered from that she was again doing well until jaundice set in and it was determined that the cancer had spread throughout her body. Hospice made her as comfortable as possible until she succumbed to her illness.
Beatrice was a gentle soul and a true lover of great music. She attended concerts frequently and took part in AGO events as possible. She never thought she was too old to learn something, and certainly supported musicians in town with her attendance. Walter and Bea were often among those in attendance at Holy Cross recitals, All Saints, Trinity Lutheran…you get the idea.

Beatrice: May you rest in peace in the arms of God.

Memorial Service at Wesley UMC, 114 Main Street, Worcester, 10 AM Thursday, August 4, 2011.

Marjorie Ness played the service that included the following repertoire:

  • Edmundson: Fairest Lord Jesus
  • Rowley: Three Chorale Preludes: St. Columba, Eventide, Hanover
  • Held: Tow Chorale Preludes: Ad hyd y nos, Hyfrydol
  • Bach: Blessed Jesus, We Are Here
  • Willan: O God, Our Help

T&G obituary:

Jennifer McPherson First Place Winner 2011-BOS-SPR Quimby

Apr. 19th 2011

Congratulations to First Place Winner Jennifer McPherson

Jen won First Place at the local Boston-Springfield (Worcester had no entrants) RCYO “Quimby” competition held 4/2 at All Saints/Ashmont (1995 Fisk: III/52).

She played:

  • Bach Prelude and Fugue in G Major, BWV 550
  • Allegro Vivace (scherzo movement) from Symphony in D Minor, Vierne (Symphony 1)
  • “Octaves” from David Briggs’ Concert Etudes

We wish her the best in Morristown at the Regional competition this summer, and then on to the nationals in Nashville in 2012.

Jen at Mechanics Hall in August 2010.

Jennifer McPherson, from Eliot, Maine, is currently studying the organ with Prof.  James David Christie.  Previously she studied with Dr. Abbey Hallberg Siegfried in Portsmouth, NH, and was a founding participant of The Young Organist Collaborative of New Hampshire. Jennifer attends College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA, where she is the Organ Scholar of the class of 2013 and recipient of a full tuition scholarship.  In high school she was employed at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Portsmouth, NH as Organ Scholar.  As a recitalist, she has performed as a soloist throughout New England, including at Mechanics Hall and Wesley United Methodist Church, both in Worcester.  In 2009, Jennifer attended the McGill Summer Organ Academy at McGill University in Montreal, and studied continuo and improvisation with Hank Knox and Jan Overduin.  She has also performed in masterclasses for Gerre Hancock, Paul Jacobs, and Douglas Major.  As a vocalist, Jennifer has sung in the ACDA All- Eastern and All- National Honors Choirs, the MMEA Southern Maine Honors Music Festival and the Maine All State Honors Choir.

Peter Krasinski Is Not So Silent At the Consoles

Mar. 27th 2011
(Our Own) Peter Krasinski – Many upcoming silent film theater organ accompaniments are on tap for this Master Improviser:

Sunday, April 3, 2011 10:00 AM
Featuring the Music of Duke Ellington
The Cathedral Church of Saint Paul,Boston

Saturday, April 9, 2001,7:00 PM
THE GENERAL starring Buster Keaton
United Congregational Church of Holyoke

Saturday, April 30, 2011 8:00 PM
THE KING OF KINGS (1927) Cecil B. DeMille’s Master Piece.
Methuen Memorial Music Hall

Robin Dinda Selected to premiere new organ concerto in Region IV Convention

Mar. 24th 2011

(Our own) Robin Dinda was selected along with three other composers, Robin Dinda will particpate in the extraordinary opportunity to premiere his new organ concerto at the 2011 Region IV convention in Greensboro, NC this summer. His Concerto No. 1 is for organ and string orchestra (complemented with a string quartet of soloists). The work, which includes a flashy, nearly constantly active pedal part, unlike most organ concertos, stronly recalls the pacing and inspiration of the great Romantic piano concertos, particularly those of Tschaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, and is in a harmonic language that most closely resembles the earlier part of the 20th century. John Alexander will be the organ soloist. The work was commissioned by Wayne Leupold Editions and The Leupold Foundation. The premiere instrument is a 1982 C. B. Fisk III/61

Robin speaks of his new work:

I wrote it out of a sense of frustration that whenever I played with an orchestra I did not have a concerto of my own.  It’s designed to be flashy and virtuosic but also audience-pleasing; it resembles the organ concerto that Rachmaninoff should have written. Each of the three movements has a (written-out) cadenza.

Graeme McCullough Pulls Up the Bench

Mar. 23rd 2011

Informal Welcome Lunch for Graeme McCullough


Mar. 3rd 2011

3/3/2011 PETER J. GOMES DIES AT AGE 68 -
May 22, 1942–February 28, 2011

  (Globe Article)   (NYT Article: "A Leading Voice Against Intolerance")   (Wikipedia Bio)    ( (2008) Video segment of Peter on Colbert Report (Comedy Channel) promoting his book)

  (local connection: Peter was the guest preacher for the 1980 annual Worcester AGO service and pastor/organist dinner which was held at Chestnut Street Congregational Church.)

  AGO National Chaplain (1979–1981) and Distinguished Minister of
Harvard University’s Memorial Church Remembered

Peter GomesNEW YORK CITY—The American Guild of Organists (AGO) is saddened by the death of the Rev. Dr. Peter J. Gomes on Monday, February 28, 2011, in Boston. Peter Gomes enjoyed a distinguished career at Harvard University as the Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at the School of Divinity and the Pusey Minister of Memorial Church. He was also an organist who announced, “When I am certain University Church is locked and [the music director] is not in evidence, I make my way to Appleton Chapel and ‘have at’ the mighty Fisk therein.” He died on Monday of complications from a stroke, according to a statement from Harvard University officials.

“Peter Gomes was a great friend to sacred musicians,” declared the Rev. Dr. Victoria R. Sirota, canon pastor and vicar of the congregation at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City, and author of Preaching to the Choir: Claiming the Role of Sacred Musician (Church Publishing, 2006). Dr. Sirota was AGO National Chaplain from 1998 to 2002 and was mentored by Gomes during her student years at Harvard Divinity School. She said, “He held the [sacred music] profession in high esteem and gave all of us in the AGO wonderful advice, support, and inspiration over the years as our chaplain and friend.”

Speaking of his distinguished legacy in the pulpit, Dr. Sirota stated, “I believe that Peter Gomes was a wonderful preacher—not only because he had a fine intellect, a thoughtful and well-grounded theology, a deep faith, and a delightful sense of humor—but also because he, himself, was an organist. His mother was a conservatory-trained pianist. He understood the way in which great music and inspired texts complement each other in a service, and also understood how dynamic shifts, changes in tempo, color, and cadence can make the words come alive.” Gomes had a personal and unique understanding of both the spoken word and the power of song; he was chairman of the editorial committee for The Harvard University Hymn Book, Fourth Ed. (Harvard University Press, 2007). “He was brilliant at improvising at a sermon,” she added.

“But what I will most remember about Peter Gomes was the courage he exhibited on the steps of Harvard’s Memorial Church in November 1991. In the midst of great turmoil over fundamentalism, the Bible, and homosexuality, he spoke honestly and authentically as ‘a man of God who happened to be gay.’ In that moment, by risking his position and using his influence, he became a prophet for our times. The truth he lifted up is still reverberating in Harvard Square and around the world. He will be greatly missed.”

An American Baptist minister, Peter Gomes was named one of America’s top preachers by Time magazine in 1979, and assumed the role of AGO National Chaplain the same year. He participated in the inauguration of two U.S. Presidents. The recipient of thirty-three honorary degrees and author of numerous books, his most recent literary contributions are The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus: What’s So Good About the Good News? (2007), and Strength for the Journey: Biblical Wisdom for Daily Living (2004). His New York Times best-selling books include The Good Book: Reading the Bible with Mind and Heart (2002) and The Good Life: Truths That Last in Times of Need (2003). In addition, he published eleven volumes of sermons and numerous articles and papers. 

Gomes’s most recent address to the AGO was given during the 2006 National Convention in Chicago. At the opening convocation, he called upon “the consideration of Holy things.” In his rich, vibrant, baritone voice, he declared, “I say that we are at our best when we worship . . . when we are engaged in the liberation of that which is already within us that might be called the ‘muse,’ or the ‘spirit,’ then we have called to life a slumbering soul, given voice and expression to that which is already there, and we help shape and form and direct it. That is why we are among God’s chosen and holy ones on earth; we allow this to happen by sharing our skills and talents with others. We do it in the performance of the greatest and most glorious music that there is, but we also do it when we enable a small congregation to sing well the hymns of Zion. We are at our best when at worship we realize that what we have, what we are, what we can do is all offered in the service of something, someone, greater than we are. Thus to our profession belong such words as reverence, awe, majesty, beauty, and inspiration: those are our words, and understanding what they mean suggests that we understand that we too are holy, as the one who calls us is holy, and that the work we perform is holy.”

A vigil in memory of Peter Gomes will be held at Harvard University’s Memorial Church today from 8:45 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. For further information, visit

2/20/2011 Congratulations to Frank Corbin on the occasion of his new appointment in Ipswich – CB Fisk II/23

From the church’s newsletter:

Frank Corbin Moves to Ipswich

Feb. 20th 2011

2/20/2011 Congratulations to Frank Corbin on the occasion of his new appointment in Ipswich – CB Fisk II/23

From the church’s newsletter:

We are happy to announce the appointment of Dr. Frank Corbin as Organist and Choirmaster of Ascension Memorial Church, Ipswich. Frank comes to us from Worcester, Massachusetts where he has served at Director of Chapel Music at Assumption College since 1989. In addition, he also teaches piano, organ and music theory in Assumption’s Department of Fine Arts and is Chair of the college’s concert series. Frank holds many degrees in the musical arts including a Doctor of Musical Arts and Performer’s Certificate from Eastman School of Music, as well as performance degrees from Oberlin College, University of Cincinnati and Concordia University, Montreal.

Frank has been a top prize winner in both national and international competitions, and has received praise for his recent recording of the Organ Works of César Franck. 

Frank is looking forward to relocating in Ipswich and becoming a part of our parish community. He will begin serving as our parish Organist and Choirmaster March 1st.

New Arrival among David Moulton’s Ranks

Feb. 19th 2011

2/19/2011 New Arrival in David Moulton‘s Family!

We are delighted to announce the birth of David’s son, Thomas Merrill Moulton, born at 9:33pm on Tuesday, February 15. 
At birth, he was 22 inches long, and he weighed in at 10 pounds, 0 ounces.