Music and Adult Choir
 

Music at All Saints Parish

The Adult Music program is centered around the Choir of All Saints. Under the leadership of music director/organist Donald Teeters and associate director Keith Glavash, the All Saints choral program has long been recognized as one of the finest in New England.

With a membership of thirty or so singers, the choir, consisting of experienced volunteer singers augmented by a few professional soloists and section leaders, adds beauty and dignity to the rich, Anglican-based liturgical life of All Saints. The Choir of All Saints sings at the Sunday 10:30 a.m. celebrations of the Holy Eucharist from early September through early June, as well as for certain Holy Days and occasional Evensongs and concerts throughout the winter season.

Rehearsals are held most Thursdays from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. Experienced volunteer singers are always welcome to join this group. There is no formal audition for admission, but singers are expected to have had some previous choral singing experience. Please contact Donald Teeters at the church for further information.

History of Leadership

There have only been five organists/directors of music since the founding of the parish:

  • Charles Norris 1897-1929
  • Rowland Halfpenny 1929-1961
  • Richard Grant 1961-1964
  • Emory Fanning 1964-1967
  • Donald Teeters 1967-present

Charles Norris, a founding member of All Saints and head of the family that owned the Boston-based Norris Piano Company, was the parish's unpaid first organist/director. He also served the parish as senior warden during part of that time.

Rowland Halfpenny, Norris's successor, was a prominent professional musician in the Boston area. Among his various musical positions, a prominent one was as the official organist for the Boston Symphony for a time. At his retirement in 1961, he and Norris had between them accounted for sixty-four years of All Saints' music leadership: each having served for exactly thirty-two years!

Richard Grant and Emory Fanning were excellent young musicians whom the Reverend Louis W. Pitt chose as his parish musicians. Both had been students of George Faxon, the nationally recognized organ recitalist and church musician who taught at Boston University and was organist/director for many years at Trinity Church, Copley Square. Grant moved away from the Boston area to pursue an active recital career. Fanning left All Saints to take up a teaching position at Middlebury College in Vermont.

In 1967 the Reverend Mr. Pitt invited Donald Teeters to direct the music program at All Saints. Teeters had been organist at St. Andrew's Church, Wellesley, where he built a strong adult and children's choir program that was acknowledged throughout the diocese. He had also been the catalyst and guiding force in the acquisition of a major new Casavant tracker action organ for that parish. After forty years he continues to lead the music program at All Saints where the distinguished adult choral program is an acknowledged pacesetter in the diocese. Teeters is also music director of The Boston Cecilia, a 125 year-old choral/orchestral organization, where his work has been highly praised in performances with period instruments of the Handel oratorio repertoire and the major works of Bach. Teeters is also a recognized interpreter of 20th century British and contemporary American choral music.

Donald Teeters
Donald Teeters

 

Keith Glavash

Keith Glavash

In 1981, in response to a declining emphasis on music instruction in the Brookline public schools, All Saints' Rector, The Reverend W. Christian Koch, in consultation with Teeters urged the vestry to create a new position in music to try to address that situation. Keith Glavash was hired to develop a children's music program and to serve as assistant in the adult music program. Glavash, an excellent organist and choral conductor who had recently completed his graduate studies at New England Conservatory, accepted the appointment eagerly. It was a wise choice and the results have been remarkable. The All Saints Schola has become an important training ground for young musicians owing to the quality and devotion of the work Keith has put into it. (See separate page for description of the Schola program.) His work as occasional conductor of adult choir and as organist has added a great deal to the worship life of All Saints.

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The Choir of All Saints Parish

The Choral Program at All Saints

There have been many changes in constituency and status within the Choir of All Saints over the past forty years. Constituency and status? In the late '60s, and throughout most of the 1970s, the choir was composed largely of paid singers, some of whom were designated soloists and some of whom were talented young music students in need of a little extra income. Over time, the parish's demographics changed; there were also periods of instability and division within the parish family. As money became tighter, it was necessary to reconsider all of the budget priorities. Less money was available for choir singers; new choral paradigms were required.

As is often the case, out of hardship came new opportunities. The parish had always attracted a few volunteer singers who were pleased to participate in a choir so well staffed with excellent professionals. With the attrition of paid singers, there has fortunately been a significant growth in the numbers of fine new volunteers. Overall, there has been fairly constant increase in total membership over the past ten years. And out of that growth there has developed a new standard of choral quality, an increased sense of ensemble, and a remarkable growth of musical community. The All Saints Choir has become a choir that is proud of its accomplishments week in and week out; proud of its contributions to the liturgy and the religious life of the parish; and proud of the friendships, the mutual encouragement the members receive from their colleagues and those who worship here.

As was said earlier, All Saints has for many years been a welcoming home to some distinguished solo singers. Some of our soloists have built musical careers that have carried their reputations far beyond this immediate area. Nancy Armstrong was for a longtime the leader of the soprano section in the All Saints Choir. In concert, she was praised by the critic for The New Yorker for the world level standing of her performances of the music of Purcell. She is also a well-loved interpreter of music from the American Songbook, and much else as well.

Don & Shron
Sharon Baker and Donald Teeters

Sharon Baker, another soprano who graced All Saints' music program for several years is in demand throughout the country in performances of a wide repertoire. She has been a particular favorite of Christopher Hogwood in concerts with Boston's Handel & Haydn Society, The Boston Cecilia and many other groups, and has performed and recorded with Boston Baroque.

Mezzo-soprano Jane Struss, another longtime contributor to All Saints distinguished music program, led the alto section and contributed heartfelt readings of a wide range of solo works during her time here.

happy parishioners
Robert Honeysucker flanked by Ingeborg von Huene (L) and Sydney Sowles

Baritone Robert Honeysucker continues to add distinction to All Saints' liturgy to this day, with his stirring solo performances of music from many periods and styles; from Bach and Handel to the deeply moving world of the American Spiritual tradition.

And the tradition continues. Soprano Jessica Cooper, a graduate of the New England Conservatory's distinguished vocal degree program, is currently the principal soprano in the All Saints Choir, whose work shows signs of expanding into a major career.

In addition to these named soloists there have been singers who came to the parish as paid choir members and then continued their association with the parish by assuming vitally important volunteer responsibilities in the parish's governance and administration. These include one paid singer who was elected senior warden, another who became parish treasurer, and others who have expressed their devotion to all Saints by undertaking many private and/or quiet tasks. All deserve recognition and gratitude: each and every member, past and present, paid or volunteer, fine singer or merely competent. All have made indispensable contributions in their own special ways to this unique and vital corner of the All Saints community. And, of course, qualified new volunteers are always welcome and quickly integrated into this convivial and talented group.

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Casavant Organ The Organ

The organ at All Saints was built by Casavant Frères, of Saint-Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada. It was installed in 1961, and was the gift of the Baldwin family in honor of John and Elizabeth Baldwin, founding members of the parish. Virgil Fox played the dedicatory recital.

The organ is an electro-pneumatic instrument of forty-six stops (fifty-six ranks): four manual divisions distributed over three keyboards, plus pedal. It was one of the earliest instruments to come from the venerable Canadian firm under the supervision of its then new tonal director, Lawrence I. Phelps. He had recently moved to Casavant from Boston's Aeolian-Skinner Organ Co. Phelps was well known in the Boston and national organ building communities as the designer of the Aeolian-Skinner instrument that had recently been installed at the Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, one of the largest church organs in the world at that time.

For the All Saints organ, Phelps was asked by the parish to collaborate in its design with a consultant, Edward M. Gammons, organist of the Groton School, who held the position of official organ consultant for the diocese. This was not an entirely happy situation for either party. From the beginning, organ professionals have speculated at length among themselves as to which of these principals was responsible for various aspects of the All Saints organ that some have thought to be less than completely successful. Overall, the instrument has served the parish's liturgical musical needs well for over forty years, although it has never been widely in demand as a recital instrument.

In the late 1990s the All Saints Casavant was completely re-leathered, and during the summer of 2001 the console was rebuilt and converted from electro-pneumatic action to direct electric action, among other minor adjustments.

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Brookline, MA 02445
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