I have a wonderful family, which has filled my life with much joy: husband Jack, daughters Jackie, Jenny, Julie, Jill, ten grandchildren, and now four great grandsons. Music has been a wonderful added enrichment, and as I write this I am realizing how significant a part the AGO, especially the North Shore Chapter, has played.
I joined the Chapter in May of 1958 (our founding year!). It must have been the next fall when the Board had an open meeting which I visited. I remember that Dean Tom Matthews** said they needed a Publicity Chairman…. No one spoke. I asked what was involved. He described it and asked…. and I said well, okay. I think I also served thus when Jack Goode** was Dean.
Austin Lovelace** was on the Board, and I approached him about organ lessons. He said no, and recommended Margaret Budd**. I remember being able to practice organ at St. Augustine’s; Bill Bottom** set that up. I took lessons from Margaret; each lesson included ten hymns so I could learn my denominational Christian Science Hymnal.
By the middle 1960s I had gotten a three rank (unified) organ for home, put together from old parts by Joey Banahan of Central Organ Service. Friendship with Margaret and Barbara Bennett** was great! We sometimes played Bach trio sonata movements together, me sitting in the middle, playing the pedal part.
Another wonderful AGO friend is Maggie Kemper**, whom I met when she played for a workshop with André Marchal in Lutkin Hall at Northwestern. I was impressed with her superlative playing! Years later she played all four of our daughters’ weddings, plus granddaughter Darcey’s wedding in 2008. Maggie played accompaniments for a CD of 12 of my solos.
When I told Leo Heim, the organist at my church, about a big event, he said he’d heard at school…. What school, I asked. American Conservatory he said. I didn’t know you were down there, I said. “’Down there?’ I’m the Dean!”
I had started organ, from scratch, at Vassar, studying with Donald Pearson (Eastman). And in 1965 I started work on an MM degree at American, finishing in 1969. Grammar school “covered” the daughters then, and I spent Thursday mornings at the Conservatory, taking most courses via tutors. The “L” rides were my main (and only) study halls. Organ lessons were with Bob Lodine**. In the 1970’s I had lessons with Wolfgang Rúbsam** so I could play for Donald Spies’s* wedding on a tracker.
Regular jobs were at three Christian Science churches: Palatine (1965-70), Deerfield (1973-74) and Glenview (1974-2012). Because of the organ at home, we started having Christmas carol parties for neighbors and church friends. Leo, Maggie, Bill Aylewsorth**, Bob Lind**, would help accompany the carols. DARCEY PRESS published Christmas Carols for Friends and Families in 1975.
I had written 2-1/2 solos when my church soloist, Joan Welles, asked (often!) if I had written any more. This led to writing more, and having Jack Goode** critique them as I sat beside him at his piano.
When I learned to create music pages using “Score”, I started planning solos for my volume III, and told Austin if he would write some solos I would publish a book of them. His 15 solos were ready before I could write six…. Austin critiqued solos for me, and supported innumerable DARCEY PRESS projects for almost 50 years…. Many times I requested compositions. (Austin, I need a set of variations on “Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten!”)
“New Songs for New Singers” was a special project. Austin, Bob Powell*, Jack Goode, and I wrote songs for “young” voices. Kathy Heetland** made accompaniment CDs for the two books.
At one AGO program (or Regional?), George Shorney passed out complimentary copies of Ecumenical Praise (published 1977), a book of new hymns AGAPE published, with Austin, Erik Routley, and Alec Wyton as editors. It woke me up to the wonder of hymns themselves! I took Morgan Simmons’s** class on the 1965 Methodist Hymnal, and then Doug Peterson’s** class on The Hymnal 1940. And I went to Erik Routley’s two week class at Garrett that summer, which led to an amazing three year correspondence with Erik (See Encounter with Erik Routley).
DARCEY PRESS’s most recent effort is “In Melody and Songs”, 103 hymns using “lost” texts of Isaac Watts. See Jonathan B. Hall’s review in “the American Organist” (December 2014, pp. 85-86), and David Music’s review in “The Hymn” (Fall 2015, pp. 37-38). Morgan Simmons, a great musical friend, was a phenomenal Consulting Editor for the collection!!!
DARCEY PRESS continues, although the web site needs help, and I should get help with marketing (Watts should be shared effectively!!!). My love of church music is still strong, and I am realizing that this North Shore Chapter, AGO, has been a huge factor.
* = AGO members; ** = North Shore members