Message from Matt Emkey, Chapter Dean
It’s hard to believe we’re already in the month of August! I don’t know about you, but it sure has felt like the summer has flown by. And just when we thought we were out of the woods, news of the dangerous Delta variant has thrown a lot of our plans regarding choral and congregational singing into question. One of the amazing benefits of a professional organization like the AGO is that we have a forum or sharing ideas and best practices with one another, and I’d love to hear what you all plan on doing with your respective churches.
I’ve been asked to introduce myself as your new Dean, so here goes!
I grew up in Wyomissing, PA, and studied piano from a very young age and began organ lessons around age 10 or 11. My primary organ teachers in high school were Mark Laubach (Organist/Choirmaster of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Wilkes-Barre, PA), Glenn Miller (Director of Music & Organist of Kirk in the Hills in Bloomfield Hills, MI, and contrabass soloist with Cappella Romana), and Dr. Christine Clewell (Assistant Professor of Organ at Indiana University of PA). Dr. Clewell was at one time the Organist/Choirmaster of Trinity Episcopal Church in Portland! I was involved with the AGO from a very young age and attending several POE’s during high school made a huge impact in my decision to study organ and work in church music.
I attended Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC, on a Presidential Scholarship to study organ and music theory with Composer-in-Residence, Dr. Dan Locklair. After Wake Forest, I had several different jobs/mini careers before working full-time as the Director of Music Ministries & Organist at the Cathedral of St. Ignatius Loyola in the Diocese of Palm Beach, Florida, where I served as the Dean of the Palm Beach AGO Chapter before relocating to Portland in 2018.
Currently, I work full-time at a law firm downtown and serve as Director of Music & Organist at Williston-Immanuel United Church, and for the Diocese of Portland at Holy Martyrs church in Falmouth. Like many of you, I also sub at other churches in the area and teach privately. I’m currently in school at USM pursuing a combined BS/MA in Leadership & Organizational Studies and in my free time, I enjoy working out, spending time with friends, and traveling with my partner Luke.
I’m thrilled to have been chosen to be your new Dean! Especially in an AGO chapter with such a wealth of experience and talent. While I know a good number of your, I’m really looking forward to getting to know everyone better over this next year! We had a very productive annual meeting in June where we decided to keep our monthly Zoom meetings in place for now, with a few in-person meetings from time to time.
Speaking of in-person meetings, I have some exciting news to share: Dr. Joyce Jones has agreed to an event with the Portland AGO Chapter on Saturday, September 18th at the Basilica of Sts. Peter & Paul in Lewiston! We are still in the process of working out the details in terms of time and format, but please make sure to mark your calendars and we will be sending out an email blast as soon as everything is set in stone.
Lastly, I’d like to congratulate Shirley Curry on her lifetime achievement PAGO award and share with you some of her words:
My considerable years as a piano accompanist to various groups and my calling to be Minister of Music in three different churches has been very fulfilling for me, not only musically but theologically. Of course, there have been "ups" and "downs", but the "ups" certainly outweighed the "downs" always.
I have always appreciated my colleagues in the Portland AGO and have learned so much from them. I've also learned much from all the choir folks I've worked with over the years. They have helped me be a better teacher and a better person.
I want to thank you and all my friends at PAGO, and may the Lord bless you and keep you. And May the PAGO remain strong and relevant as it moves into the future.
Dean, Portland Chapter of the American Guild of Organists