James Weaver

Dear Friends.

They arrived by train from Modesto, Cal­i­for­nia and Northamp­ton, Mass­a­chu­setts — by plane from Ontario, Hawaii, Aus­tralia, and Italy — and from Venice, Flori­da, Port­land, Ore­gon, Nashua, New Hamp­shire, from a host of states along all our bor­ders, and in between. Those who gath­ered in Min­neso­ta for the OHS 62nd Annu­al Con­ven­tion were greet­ed at the Inter­con­ti­nen­tal Hotel by mem­bers of the Twin Cities Con­ven­tion Committee, a group that had laid its plans for well over two years in antic­i­pa­tion of this moment.

Co-Chairs Michael Barone and Bob Vick­ery gath­ered a core group of ten to plan the pro­gram and antic­i­pate the needs of our 330 con­ven­tion­eers. All con­ven­tions are built to size” accord­ing to the venues, and this one worked out to be a per­fect fit. Choos­ing venues means, in large mea­sure, con­sid­er­ing the choice of the many organs avail­able in the area. Once cho­sen, there is a long peri­od to con­firm avail­abil­i­ty of the church­es, halls, his­toric sites, and per­for­mance cen­ters with the req­ui­site that the organs will be in good work­ing con­di­tion. In this instance, the orig­i­nal plan­ning group was aug­ment­ed by a sub­com­mit­tee of two for Cen­tral Min­neso­ta, three more for the Min­neso­ta Riv­er Val­ley, and for Duluth — yet six more! The Hymn­let, a beau­ti­ful 30-page pub­li­ca­tion of all hymns sung dur­ing the week was cre­at­ed by anoth­er vol­un­teer, and yet anoth­er was in charge of on-site reg­is­tra­tion. Par­tic­u­lar­ly demand­ing is the orga­ni­za­tion of food ser­vice, as well as the one pro­vi­sion that brings down many a con­ven­tion — bus tran­sit! We had superb ser­vice for food and trans­porta­tion this year, and the two who brought that off were treat­ed like heroes. Fundrais­ing is cru­cial for many offer­ings through­out the con­ven­tion, and efforts this year pro­duced spec­tac­u­lar results in fund­ing per­form­ers, as well as the Big­gs Fel­lows. Michael Barone cre­at­ed yet anoth­er fel­low­ship that offered young artists trav­el funds and hotel stipends, afford­ing us a broad base of remark­able talent.

It’s always great fun to greet our two found­ing mem­bers, Bar­bara Owen and Randy Wag­n­er, bound­ing with vig­or, good humor, and beam­ing as count­less old friends sur­round them. And in short order they met many of the 23 recip­i­ents of E. Pow­er Big­gs Fel­low­ships. Since 1978, the OHS has award­ed 288 Big­gs Fel­low­ships, and this year, six returned as con­ven­tion per­form­ers. Not post­ed on the gen­er­al pro­gram sched­ule are two spe­cial events — mas­ter­class­es offered espe­cial­ly for recip­i­ents of the Fel­low­ships. This year, Nathan Laube spec­i­fied reper­toire for a group to delve into, and John Fer­gu­son, uni­ver­sal­ly rec­og­nized as a mas­ter of impro­vi­sa­tion and hymn play­ing, pro­duced a bril­liant ses­sion on ser­vice playing. 

The 2017 con­ven­tion hand­book has already been mailed to our mem­bers, and we’re about to mail you the 2018 Cal­en­dar that out­lines the bril­liant plans under way for our next con­ven­tion in Rochester, New York. 

Look­ing for­ward: At the Annu­al Meet­ing our Chair, Chris Marks, made a call for future con­ven­tions, begin­ning in 2020. Announced along with this call is the fact that we now have the long-await­ed revi­sion of the OHS con­ven­tion plan­ning doc­u­ment. Look it up now on the OHS web­site, and please let us know if you would like to host the OHS in your area. We’d love to hear from you!

Guide­lines for Nation­al Conventions
of the Organ His­tor­i­cal Society 
June, 2017
Edi­tor: Daniel N. Col­burn II, Con­ven­tion Coör­di­na­tor (2010 – 2016)


And final­ly, by the end of Octo­ber we will be in situ, and our next mes­sages will speak of revi­tal­ized progress to con­tin­ue serv­ing our mem­bers, and our mis­sion, in this extra­or­di­nary setting.

James Weaver