Simcoe-Muskoka Centre Page
RCCO: Simcoe – Muskoka Centre
The formation of the Simcoe - Muskoka Centre in April 1989 was spearheaded by Ken Davis. Following the aims of the RCCO National Association, the Centre works to encourage excellence in the performance of organ and choral music, promotion of the organ in its historic and evolving roles, and providing a forum for mutual support, inspiration, education, and certification of members. These aims have been achieved through workshops, presentations, panel discussions, performances and social events. A service that includes member participation occurs prior to the Annual General Meeting, held during the second week of June. The meeting is followed by a time of fellowship.
Charter (current) Members
Blair Bailey has been organist and choir director of St. Paul’s United Church in Orillia since 1984 where he provides an active and eclectic music program for four choirs. Blair has been recognized by the Orillia Kiwanis Club for his work as Artistic Director of the annual Kiwanis – Orillia Music Teachers’ Music Festival. Blair is a past president of the Simcoe/Muskoka RCCO and Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ association. He sings with the Orillia based chamber choir Reconnaissance and is frequently heard performing on the piano, organ and harpsichord as accompanist of the Cellar Singers. He has performed in Budapest, Vienna and in the Czech Republic while on tour with the Cellar Singers and also in recitals throughout Eastern Canada and CBC Radio Two.
Ken Davis is a native of east Toronto, an honours graduate of East York Collegiate and holds a BA in Modern Languages and an honours post-graduate degree in Education from the University of Toronto. A retired secondary-school vice-principal and teacher of French, Ken has never retired from music. He took his first piano lesson with Miss Jessie Blake at age 13, his first organ lesson with Maestro Giuseppe Moschetti at age 15 and played his first church service at age 17. Ken also studied theory, harmony and counterpoint with Mr. Eric Rollinson at the Toronto Conservatory of Music and choir training with Dr. Charles Peaker.
In 1960, Ken was awarded the Associate Diploma of the Royal Canadian College of Organists and, in l996, was recognized by the College with an honourary life membership, having held a number of positions on the National Council and for founding the Simcoe-Muskoka Centre of the RCCO in April, 1989. As a result of a nomination by his fellow members of the Simcoe-Muskoka Centre, in July 2005, he was awarded the College’s Distinguished Service Award.
A church organist for most of his life, Ken has held a number of positions in Toronto. His longest appointment was his 28 years as Organist and Choirmaster of Leaside United Church where he presided over a choir of 27 voices, and designed and played the large three-manual 1957 Casavant organ. Presently, he is Assisting Organist at St. James’ Anglican Church in Orillia.
As a recitalist, Ken has appeared in a number of locales in the greater Toronto area, including Convocation Hall (U. of T.). He has also performed at the University of Rochester, Cornell University and, more recently, the University of Illinois.
Ken and his wife, Mary, moved from Don Mills to Orillia in 1988 to a home where Ken could pursue his lifelong hobby of model railroading (HO scale). He has an extensive WWII library as well as books on education, musicology, railroading and ships. For many years, Ken was General Secretary of the Upper Canada Railway Society, and both Ken and Mary are long-time members of the Toronto Marine Historical Society. Ken is also a long-standing Associate of the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
Paul Gockel (Port Carling) is a native of Cleveland, Ohio but his love of boats brought him north to the Port Carling area. He builds, repairs, refinishes, restores and goes boating in small, hand-made wooden boats. Paul is a member of The Cellar Singers and currently organist and choir director of Knox Presbyterian Church, Bracebridge.
Albert Greer has enjoyed a career in music for several decades. His tenor voice has been heard on the CBC, in concert across Canada, in England, the Netherlands, the United States and New Zealand. He has taught music in secondary school and at York University. He conducted the Ontario Youth Choir in 1974 and became conductor of the Cellar Singers in 1977 and Organist and Director of Music at St. James’ Anglican Church in 1981.
Executive 2008 – 2009
President: Paul Gockel
Past President: Corinne MacDonald
Secretary: Susan Walma
Treasurer: Carolyn Grant
Membership Secretary: Susan Walma
Windchest Editor and Publicity: Corinne MacDonald
Archivist: Ken Davis
Members at Large:
Blair Bailey, Jim Leonard, Marilyn Reesor, Isabelle Thiess
Centre Chaplain: The Rev Jack Carbert
Official “Organ” of the Royal Canadian College of Organists
Volume XX, No.1
The 20th Anniversary of the Simcoe – Muskoka Centre and the Centennial of the RCCO.
Simcoe-Muskoka Centre - Annual General Meeting
Your attendance, participation and support at the June 10th, 2008 - 19th Annual General Meeting at St. John Vianney Roman Catholic Church is appreciated. Thank you to Blair for arranging the service, Reverent Carbert for his special message, Albert Greer, cantor and Marilyn Reesor for hosting and performing organist duties. Thank you also to Jim Leonard (and Lenore) for hosting dinner and the business portion of the Annual General Meeting.
2007 –2008 Year-end Summary
A summary of the ‘07 –‘08 year was submitted to National Office and Regional Director, Fran Harkness for publication in the reports of the National Annual Meeting distributed at the Convention in Kitchener/Waterloo.
Centre Events Featured in The American Organist
Information about Centre events has been featured in recent editions of The American Organist.
- Contents of Rachel Lauren’s April 9th Recital Programme -7:88
- A summary of the Travelling Clinician Programme (April 9th and the Annual General Meeting) - 9: 36
- Colours of Music organ events on October 4th and 5th at St. Andrew’ s Presbyterian Church in Barrie – 9:123
St. James’ Summer Recital Series
Congratulations to Centre members Paul Gockel and Jim Leonard for their organ mastery at the 18th Annual St. James’ Anglican Church summer “Noon Hour Organ Recitals”. Special mention must also be given to hosts Albert Greer and Ken Davis for their commentary to promote and recognize the artists, organ performance and literature. Thank you to the RCCO members who faithfully supported this series.
Ryan Jackson in Gravenhurst
Recognition must be given to Dean Perry for co-ordinating the restoration and enlarging of the Casavant, Op.2236 at Trinity United Church, Gravenhurst. Former Simcoe - Muskoka member, Ryan Jackson, performed the dedicatory recital on September 27th. Ryan is currently involved in his first year of Doctoral studies at The Julliard School with Paul Jacobs. A summary of this special performance was prepared by Centre President, Paul Gockel and was published in the September 2008 issue of Organ Canada, page 16. It was wonderful to see several RCCO members out to support this important event.
Editor’s Note through Dean: Ryan had qualified to participate in the Tenth Organ Festival in Montreal in October 2008, but due to the demands of his course work, he withdrew from this competition.
RCCO - 2008 Festival on the Grand
Chris Bohdanowicz, (St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Barrie) and I attended the RCCO National Convention in Kitchener/Waterloo and Guelph from July 13 to 16th. The theme “a Celebration of Imagination” focused on improvisation. The competition finalists provided much personal enthusiasm and excitement when they attended events and workshops. Their love of the pipe organ, music and performing was evident throughout the conference and it was truly amazing to watch and listen to these ‘masters’ during the final improvisation round. Further details about this wonderful conference are highlighted in Organ Canada in the September and December 2008 publications.
During the conference, I had an opportunity to have a delightful lunch with Ken Inkster …and the programme (book) from AGO ’08, Twin Cities, Minneapolis and Saint. Paul conference held from June 22 – 26! Rachel Laurin received the Holtkamp composition award and Ken reported that her recital was very well received.
Barrie Colours of Music
The 6th Barrie Colours of Music, September to October 5th 2008 featured two pipe organ performances. The New York Piano-Organ Duo: Jason Cutmore, pianist and Daniel Sullivan organist [Julliard, Yale, Oberlin], performed works of Franck, Mc Cune and Langlais. The feature work, “Peter and the Wolf”, narrated by Rick Phillips was very well written and most enjoyable.
William O’Meara accompanied the Lon Chaney silent film version of ‘Phantom of the Opera’. Audience comments after the recital indicated amazement that ‘Bill’ was capable of performing almost 2 hours without the aid of written music. Truly wonderful evening featuring the pipe organ at its finest!
Editor’s Personal Notes
From January 20-24, 2008, I attended the ‘Pipes in the Desert’, AGO Region IX Midwestern Conclave in Tucson, Arizona. A summary of this inspiring and flawlessly run event can be found in The American Organist 5:78. Artists included Michael Burkhart, Richard Elliot (Mormon Tabernacle) Paul Jacobs, Kimberly Marshall and the Phoenix Bach Choir. One, of several highlights was hearing the new AGO chaplain Thomas Troeger and encountering AGO (Past) President, Frederick Swann on several occasions.
After Tucson it was off to the 2008 University of Alabama Church Music Conference, January 25 –26 at the Moody School of Music in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Conference details can be found in The American Organist 7:56. Highlights of this conference were re-connecting with 14 members of the group that travelled to Paris in June 2007, and a very enjoyable and ‘entertaining’ Saturday dinner evening dinner at the home of Faythe Freese (tour guide and UA professor) with Daniel Roth (St. Sulplice, Paris) in attendanceSumm
2007 -2008 Summary Report
The Centre presented a “Festival of Pipes” progressive-style recital on September 30th at three locations in downtown Orillia each with Casavant pipe organs. The first part at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church demonstrated the versatility of the pipe organ featuring duets with the bagpipes as an orchestral instrument accompanying the voice with jazz registration. There was a pedals only composition as well. The middle portion at St. Paul’s United Church presented ‘Organ Music – From the Sublime to the Ridiculous’. The ‘Festival’ concluded at St. James' Anglican Church with Choral Evensong. Ten members including Chaplain Rev. Jack Carbert participated in this event. A summary of this event was featured in March edition of The American Organist.
In April, as part of the “RCCO Travelling Clinician Programme”, Rachel Laurin presented a wonderful concert consisting mainly of (living) Canadian composers. The event was held at Collier Street United Church, Barrie. One of the highlights of Rachel’s programme was an improvisation on one of Jim Leonard’s themes from his opera.
The 19th Annual General Meeting was held at St. John Vianney Roman Catholic Church in Barrie on June 10th, 2008. The service was arranged by Blair Bailey and Reverend Carbert. Albert Greer, cantor, led the worship service and Marilyn Reesor performed organist duties. Jim Leonard (and Lenore) hosted dinner and the business portion of the 19th Annual General Meeting.
Information about Centre events has been featured in recent editions of The American Organist on 7:88, 9:36 and 9:123.
2006-2007 Summary Report
On October 29th 2006, part of the National Council’s, ‘World’s Largest Organ Recital’, the Simcoe – Muskoka Centre hosted an afternoon of ‘Music: Sacred, Secular and Silly’ featuring RCCO members and the Oro - Medonte Children’s and Youth Choirs, St. Andrew’s Junior Choir and St. Paul’s Carol and Youth Choirs. Costumed organists and narrators Blair Bailey, Jeff Campbell, Carolyn Grant, Albert Greer, Paul Gockel, Jim Leonard, Dean Perry, Marilyn Reesor and Isabelle Thiess presented George Akerley’s “Sweet for Mother Goose”; “Rex: King of Instruments” by Daniel Burton was preformed by Marshall Martin and narrated by Brent Wetham. The audience was treated to Robert Ampt’s arrangement of “Chopsticks” by Corinne MacDonald.
On April 14th the Centre hosted the “RCCO Travelling Clinicians Programme” choral workshop with John Tuttle at St. James’ Anglican Church, Orillia. Sixty-three singers from RCCO member’s churches and choirs attended the very successful and enjoyable workshop. Blair Bailey and Marshall Martin accompanied the workshop and Albert Greer for hosted the event. A well-attended, recital by Dr. Tuttle displaying great technical virtuosity and showing off the organ as rarely heard before, followed the choral workshop.
The 18th Annual General Meeting church service was held on Tuesday, June 12th at Church of the Good Samaritan, Port Stanton. Dinner, the business meeting and elections of officers for 2007 –2008 followed at a private home on the Trent Severn Waterway.
Mary and Ken Davis who have kept the membership informed by editing and publishing the Windchest Newsletter for the past 18 years were recognized for their efforts and expertise
2005 – 2006 Summary Report
The London Organ Festival/RCCO National Convention was of significance to the Centre. Founding member Ken Davis received the Award for Distinguished Service and former member Ryan Jackson won the National Organ Playing Competition.
In October, Carolyn Grant assisted Mayumi Kumagai-Bailey in presenting a “Sound Exploration - Organ Crawl” to a Suzuki Baby Class (ages 5 weeks to 18 months). Babies were encouraged to explore/play the keyboard and change stops on the Casavant pipe organ at St. Paul’s United Church. A very early introduction to the pipe organ!
As part of the “RCCO Travelling Clinician Programme”, David Palmer from the University of Windsor provided an enjoyable and informative workshop “Organ-ize Your Hymns” on October 15th at Collier Street United Church in Barrie. David focused on Tools and Techniques for Animated Hymn Playing on the Organ and discussed: Exploring the Text, Singing and Playing the Hymn, as well as Registration and Arrangements. After the workshop, David performed a wonderful recital featuring works of the masters and Canadian composers
A “Pipes and Praise” event co-ordinated by Carol Grant at St. James Centennial United Church in Parry Sound on October 30th featured four choirs (70 members including children) leading favourite hymns and anthems. Centre President, Corinne MacDonald who provided a description of the hymns and organ works, chaired the event. A capacity audience enjoyed organists Blair Bailey, Paul Gockel, Carol Grant, Jim Leonard and Dean Perry performing well-known organ solos and accompanying the hymns. Proceeds from this event will be used for maintenance and restoration of the Keats organ in the church.
On March 26th, 2006 at an “Afternoon with a Colleague” event President Corinne MacDonald provided members with information on pipe organs of Australia/Tasmania and New Zealand visited in 2005. The presentation consisted of a visual display of brochures and pictures and included highlights of discussions with organists as well as audio selections from CDs.
A recital featuring German International Concert Organist, Elke Voelke with Concert Violinist and Toronto Symphony Orchestra Concert Master, Jacques Israelievitch was held at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Orillia on Sunday, May 7, 2006. The technology system available in the church enabled the audience to have a full view of the organist during the performance. This well attended event, which brought together two World Class artists, was part of the ORGANIX’06 series developed by Artistic Directors William O’Meara and Gordon Mansell in Toronto. Marshall Martin, director of music at St. Andrew’s provided an audio and visual introduction to the pipe organ prior to the performance and Isabelle Thiess organized the reception following the recital.
After dinner at the renovated Coldwater Grist Mill Café, members met for their 17th Annual General Meeting and Service at Coldwater United Church. The musical setting for the service was written by Albert Greer. Members assisting at the service were Rick Allen, Blair Bailey, Jeff Campbell, Ken Davis, Carolyn Grant, Albert Greer and Marilyn Reesor. Dr. Donald Jay was thanked for his message and past involvement, and given continued best wishes for an enjoyable retirement. Officers for 2006/2007 were elected and plans for next year were presented
During the past year, Centre reports were featured two times in The American Organist publication: September 2005, February 2006 and the May 7th recital was listed in the Calendar section of the April edition.
2004 –2005 Summary Report
The 2004/2005 center activities began in October at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Orillia with an anthem reading session and an opportunity to share summer experiences and discuss future events. Collier Street United Church in Barrie was the venue in March for William Wright of Deer Park United Church Toronto to present slides and music from his Naumberg CD featuring famous historic European organs. Blair Bailey, Paul Gockel, Carol Grant, Carolyn Grant, Corinne MacDonald, Bryce Mercer and Marilyn Ressor- Burch performed at a “Member’s Recital” at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Orillia in April. Included in the program was Marshall Martin playing the work entitled “In Mystery and Wonder: The Casavant Diptych” composed to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Casavant Freres of St-Hyacinthe, Quebec. James Leonard also presented his “Prelude in E minor” written to honour Ken Davis for his outstanding contributions to the RCCO - Distinguished Service Award: July 2005.
During the year, Ken and Mary Davis profiled members and provided Centre news and updates in editions of The Windchest. After a devotional service led by The Rev. Dr. Donald R. Jay, Centre Chaplain, members had an opportunity to play the 1978, 6 rank Wilhelm tracker at the Centre’s June 16th Annual General Meeting held at the home of President, Jim Leonard.