One reason the American Guild of Organists exists is “to advance the cause of organ and choral music, to increase their contributions to aesthetic and religious experiences, and to promote their understanding, appreciation and enjoyment.” (Want to know more about the purposes of the AGO? Visit www.agohq.org and click the “About” tab.)
I would like to personally say “Thank you” to St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church for your part in helping us to fulfill our purpose. For the last two years our local AGO chapter has worked hard to sponsor a convention for the Southeast Region of the guild. Conventions include workshops and concerts that provide education and inspiration for our members.
On Monday of the convention, June 12, 2017, we spent the entire morning in San Marco between All Saints Episcopal Church, Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church, and St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church. Special thanks goes to Loree M. and to Mark and Lynette W. who served as hosts by pointing the way to restrooms, directing conventioneers to the nave for sessions, and helping as needed. They were truly gracious and met each person with a smile.
St. Mark’s was the location for a workshop on body mapping which teaches musicians how to map (align) their bodies for better physical well-being, better practice, and better music. It was led by Rhonda Cassano who has been a member of Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra and currently teaches flute at the University of North Florida. Ms. Cassano has also appeared at St. Mark’s with the San Marco Chamber Music Society.
|Rhonda Cassano teaches Body Mapping|
Another workshop at St. Mark’s was led by Dr. Cara Tasher, Director of Choral Activities at the University of North Florida. Her engaging presentation gave choral directors tips on getting the accuracy and expression they want from their singers.
Finally, Donald McCullough led a reading session at St. Mark’s. Reading sessions are an important part of any convention because they introduce new music to directors. Each participant receives a packet of music and then we all sing through each title. The session included several pieces composed by Mr. McCullough who is a well-known composer, Director of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra Chorus, and the Organist and Choirmaster of Jacksonville’s Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd.
|Don McCullough conducts a reading session at St. Mark's|
|The program book|
I chaired the program book committee. Our book had to include schedules, concerts, workshop descriptions, artist and presenter bios – and lots of other things. I am really happy that our cover featured the photography of our own Bill D.
All these events happened at St. Mark’s. Thank you to St. Mark’s for making your space available. As your Cantor, I am always happy and proud to share our facility with my AGO colleagues.
|Raúl Prieto Ramírez at St. Augustine's Catherdral Basilica|
Thank you also to the St. Mark’s Foundation. Their gift to the convention of $1,000.00 was one of the first gifts we received. It partially funded a concert by Raúl Prieto Ramírez who came from Spain to play a thrilling concert at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Augustine.
The full impact of conventions like ours can never truly be knows. Organists and directors take new techniques and ideas home to their own churches, schools, and other venues. They teach them to their students and share them with colleagues. It is a great gift not just to the individual organist, but to the greater church and to the community.
Photos of Rhonda Cassano and Raúl Prieto Ramírez were taken by a member of the Central Florida AGO Chapter and are taken from Facebook.