PipeChat Digest #4216 - Tuesday, January 13, 2004
 
Brian Lloyd Burgess, R.I.P.
  by "Emmons, Paul" <PEMMONS@wcupa.edu>
singing at funerals
  by "terry hicks" <Terrick@webtv.net>
Zany Sonata recording available
  by "Jonathan Orwig" <giwro@adelphia.net>
Re: Mechanical Action with second electric console
  by "TommyLee Whitlock" <tommylee@whitlock.org>
 

(back) Subject: Brian Lloyd Burgess, R.I.P. From: "Emmons, Paul" <PEMMONS@wcupa.edu> Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2004 00:00:58 -0500   Dear Friends:   It is my unhappy duty to let you know of the passing of Brian, one of my = oldest and dearest friends, on Jan. 4, 2004.   He died in harness, as they say. Sunday morning, I'm told, he showed up = at Sacred Heart Church, Webster, Mass. to play and direct for two = masses, looking "ashen" and taking three minutes to walk huffing and = puffing from the church door to the console. Father Roy and others = realized that he was so ill that he had no business being anywhere but = in hospital, but he stubbornly protested, saying "Don't call an = ambulance, because I won't go! It's just a bit of pneumonia, which I = get sometimes. Playing for mass here is my life, don't take that away = from me." They made him promise, at least, that he would call his = doctor as soon as the services were over. He and Jerry, the parish = education administrator, lived across the street in apartments made from = the former school convent. That evening Jerry noticed Brian lying on = the floor in his living room and called 911 and Fr. Roy, while Brian was = still objecting that he didn't need to go to hospital. He expired a few = minutes later upon trying to stand up again.   Just before Christmas Brian had very reluctantly, and he hoped = temporarily, resigned because of his health as music teacher at = Hampshire Country School, a small boarding school for emotionally = disturbed boys whom he often called "my family." He continued his = private teaching of Keil K. (a promising 17-year-old organ student) and = several piano students. In February he was to have a stomach operation = to address the extreme overweight which he had endured as long as I had = known him. It is especially too bad that he didn't have the opportunity = to undergo this surgery, which might very well have saved his life. = While I knew that he was a little older than I, it was surprising to = learn that he reached age 63, because so much in both his appearance and = his outlook was ever youthful, even timeless.   Born and raised near Worcester, Mass., Brian had been one of William = Self's choristers at All Saints' Church, a place of which he always = spoke with great admiration (and latterly with concern). He was proud = and delighted whenever any of his piano students or other young = acquaintances became choristers there. He had attended the Guilmant = Organ School in New York and sometimes practiced at St. Thomas Church, = experiences which he also recollected fondly. His career took him = across the country, to Nebraska and later to Washington state, where he = might work as a radio announcer (from which, partly, I suppose, he = gained his beautiful bass speaking voice, gentle but so rich), as a = special-ed teacher, or as a piano salesman and teacher in music stores = in addition to church positions. I met him around 1980 when I was living = in Ellensburg, Wash. and he in Yakima. He was for a year or two = organist and choirmaster at S. Timothy's Episcopal Church, where I = succeeded him in 1983. After moving to the Philadelphia area in 1985, I = kept telling him how much I liked it out here; and after a year or two, = back he came as well, having found a sales position in Leominster, = Mass., and shortly thereafter the teaching work at Hampshire Country = School. For several years he was organist and choirmaster at S. = George's Church (R.C.) in Worcester before assuming the position at = Sacred Heart and moving to Webster. Under his direction, the Athol = Children's Choir reached quite an admirable standard in the early 1990s. = He was bubblingly full of various ambitions, plans, and dreams to the = end, the dearest of which was the opportunity he had to revive the = Worcester Boychoir. If his health were better, he would no doubt have = done so long since. =20   Anyone who recalls Brian from only from long ago, when I first made his = acquaintance, might justifiably remember a rather irreverent, even = cynical man. Work in sales, I wouldn't doubt, can easily do that to = someone. However, I'm happy to say that he was more and more free of = these traits after moving back east, leaving only the vestige of a quick = wit as dry as a good martini. I can take no credit for this change = myself. Let's put it down to his many students, especially the = colleagues and children at HCS, several wonderful priests for whom he = was privileged to work (he chose his church positions carefully and = wouldn't take just any-old-job simply for the money however much he = might need it), and the grace of God. At last he was very devout and = unabashedly warm and tender-hearted. So many people loved him that the = large church was nearly full for his funeral. =20   Three priests concelebrated. His student Keil and I kept swapping = places on the bench, with a third colleague directing Brian's choir, all = honored to serve gratis for this requiem. Moving tributes were spoken = by the pastor and by Mr. Thomas Olson, whose talented son Tom Jr. was a = particular protege for almost ten years and Brian was practically = "adopted" as a member of the family. "Tommy", a recent graduate of Holy = Cross College in Worcester, whose glorious tenor voice is now well-known = to many in New England, thanks to Brian's nurture and encouragement, has = recently been accepted as a postulant in the Society of Jesus, a = prospect that greatly gratified Brian even though it isn't necessarily a = career in music. Fr. Roy began his homily by holding up the day's = newspaper and mentioning two upcoming events highlighted on the front = page: a glitzy professional football game in Boston, and a concert of a = select group of "young musicians" in Mechanics Hall in Worcester. Then = he said that no one could doubt which event Brian would prefer to = attend, or which one (though more obscure) was likely to do more for = mankind in the long run. Brian, he said, was also a man of the church, = who loved her liturgy, music, and culture, especially in the round of = the liturgical year. For this mass he chose to read again, as the Holy = Gospel, the story of the Magi, "the last Gospel that Brian heard", and = to enlarge upon their journey, often arduous and lonely, following a = star, to find Jesus and bring their gifts. Brian, in his way, followed = their example.   After learning last month of a book about liturgical renewal, _Beyond = the prosaic_, which includes a long article by Fr. M. Francis Mannion, a = priest whom Brian not only admired but had met at some point, I ordered = copies last month for Brian as well as for myself. He received his = shortly before Christmas. He never claimed to be very learned or = intellectual (and in this was too humble. I never ceased to be = surprised at the various issues he was on top of.) So I didn't know = whether he would have much interest in this book, because it is quite = specialized, scholarly and sometimes theoretical, and suggested that it = might make a good Christmas present for Fr. Roy if he hadn't decided = what else to give him. But Brian immediately started studying it and = said that he would "loan" it to Fr. Roy after he had finished it. It = was found on top of a small, neat pile of books on his desk at his = death. Not that he'd ever needed any help himself at being beyond the = prosaic.   As postlude I chose to play the "Cortege et Litanie". Only shortly = before the service did it occur to me that, quite aside from its being = the finest piece for the end of a funeral that I know, its composer = ended this life similarly: both he and Brian had played faithfully for = Sunday mass in their churches (Dupre ultimately very aged and almost = deaf) after which they had gone home and, later the same day, passed on. = I can think of worse ways to go.   Paul          
(back) Subject: singing at funerals From: "terry hicks" <Terrick@webtv.net> Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2004 23:05:17 -0600 (CST)   I'm in favor of singing at funerals, especially in churches, from a theological and therapeutic standpoint.   At such a major time like death, we need to sing our faith beliefs...period. And as therapy, I speak from my own experience.   When the first of my grandparents died after a bout with bone cancer, I was already living far from my hometown. One of the hymns sung at the funeral was one I detested. However, at that funeral I was forced to get beyond the music and deal with the words, which in fact had good theology...I was inspired by the words and able to grieve for the grandfather whose suffering I knew only through phone conversations with my parents. It was a "conversion" moment. I now understand people's attachment to the hymn, and can play it with sincerity.    
(back) Subject: Zany Sonata recording available From: "Jonathan Orwig" <giwro@adelphia.net> Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2004 22:57:53 -0800   Hello fellow organophiles,   I am making available a recording I have done of a 21st century Organ = Sonata (yes, I have the composer's permission to share it on the = internet)   http://www.blackiris.com/orwig/sagerquist/   is the link.... it's not like most organ sonatas you'll hear....   Enjoy!   Jonathan  
(back) Subject: Re: Mechanical Action with second electric console From: "TommyLee Whitlock" <tommylee@whitlock.org> Date: Tue, 13 Jan 2004 03:07:52 -0500   > I've never played one, but it's fairly common in Europe ... the new > organ at St. Eustache in Paris comes to mind, and several instruments by =   > Klais. > > The only attempt I'm aware of in this country was the Fisk at All > Saints' Ashmont Station in Boston ... the Fisk was installed in the west =   > gallery;   There is a Steiner-Reck at St Luke's RC in McLean, VA with this set up. = The built-in console is mechanical action with electric stops and pistons. = I've played this and although the electric console is "tracker touch", there is =   very much of a difference in the feel of the two consoles. One advantage = to the movable electric console, though, is that the organist can hear the instrument better. At the built-in console, the sound mostly shoots over = the player's head.   http://www.saintlukemclean.org/music/pipeorgan.html   I wish I could find a close up picture of the console. The stops are controled by switches which make it look like something for NASA.   Cheers, TommyLee