The Chapter’s 80th-Year Celebration

SAAGO’s birthday cake (click on any photo to enlarge)

What does it take to celebrate eighty years of a Guild chapter? For the Southern Arizona Chapter, it took months of planning by a thoughtful and hard-working anniversary committee; members and officers who shared enthusiasm and love for the Chapter’s work and were willing to pitch in where required; a sense of history; appreciation for what past members have achieved; camaraderie and good fellowship; visits by national and regional AGO officers; gracious hospitality from Northminster Presbyterian Church, the University of Arizona School of Music, and several individual Chapter members…

At the dinner

The celebration began on Friday, April 28, with a catered dinner in the Fellowship Hall of Northminster Presbyterian Church in Tucson. Members and guests shared lively conversation. The Chapter’s Dean, Douglas Leightenheimer, read a proclamation by Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild congratulating the Chapter. (read the proclamation here)

Michael Bedford

AGO President Michael Bedford presented a certificate to the Chapter, commended SAAGO on its eighty years, and shared thoughts about the future of the Guild in this country and abroad. (read the certificate here)

SAAGO deans with Michael Bedford

Five past and present Chapter deans were present. A Vesper service followed, with a prelude recital by Johnson Scholarship recipient Kevin Seal, hymns accompanied by John Brobeck, and as postlude, Pamela Decker’s Fantasy on the Name of Roy Andrew Johnson performed by the composer.

Member’s Recital performers and composers

After a morning meeting of regional officers, the public events continued on Saturday, April 29, with a Member’s Recital at Northminster Presbyterian Church. For many, this was one of the weekend’s highlights. All nine performers were Chapter members, and all but one of the composers on the program were current or former Chapter members. AGO President Michael Bedford marveled afterward at the number of composers affiliated with SAAGO over the years and at the high quality of their work. (see the concert program here)

A delicious informal luncheon followed in Northminster’s Rowley Courtyard. SAAGO Hospitality Chair Joyce Swinehart came through in her accustomed style with a variety of sandwiches, salads, and cookies. Temperate late April weather was perfectly suited to the outdoor setting. As lunch wound down, West Regional Councillor Matthew Burt shared perspectives, as did  District Convener Kristin Prouty and Southern Nevada Chapter Dean Matt Estes.

After the Sunday recital: Dhira Mahoney, Joel Pierce, Pamela Decker

The weekend ended on another high note as Joel Pierce, a Master’s candidate in organ performance at the University of Arizona, gave the Mildred Flood Mahoney Memorial Concert in the UA’s Holsclaw Hall. Joel’s program featured works by Vincent Lübeck, Louis-Nicolas Clérambault, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Louis Vierne. Dhira Mahoney hosted a reception afterward, with a birthday cake for SAAGO provided by Dean Doug.

Maxine Fifer, Dusty Johnson, Kathryn Snodgrass. Not pictured: Janet Tolman

Hearty thanks to the Anniversary Committee for imaginative programming and superb organization: Maxine Fifer, Dusty Johnson, Kathryn Snodgrass, and Janet Tolman. May the next eighty years of the Southern Arizona Chapter be equally fruitful and worth celebrating!

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