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
Editor: Daniel N. Colburn II, Convention Coordinator (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.