Nunc dimittis

June 30, 2015

Nunc Dimittis

Patricia Goodman Booth, 86, died April 17 in Vero Beach, Florida. Born in Yonkers, New York, she showed musical talent as an organist early on, starting her church career at age 14. She studied organ under Arthur Poister at Syracuse University, graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree in 1951.

At Syracuse, she met her future husband, George Lawrence Booth. They were married in 1951 and settled in Fulton, New York. Booth continued her musical career, primarily at the State Street United Methodist Church. After further education at SUNY Oswego she became an elementary school teacher, serving in the Phoenix Central School District, the Nicholasville, Kentucky, schools, and the American School in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 1979 she and George returned to New York, where she continued teaching and also served as organist and music director at the First Methodist Church in Syracuse.

Pat was active in Rotary, the American Guild of Organists (as Syracuse chapter dean), the Philanthropic Educational Organization, and in the Vero Beach Community Church. She was still serving as an organist up until the time of her death. Her proudest accomplishment there was serving on the committee that selected the new Lively-Fulcher organ for the church, which she played just three and a half weeks before her death.

Patricia Goodman Booth was preceded in death by her parents and her husband of 61 years, George. She is survived by her children and their spouses, Dr. Laura Booth Chan (Raymond), Celia Booth (Thomas McCaffery), Eric Thomas Booth (Kathy), Stephen Roger Booth (Kathy), Dr. Michael Booth (Sue), 18 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, and her companion Ramsey Ludington.

 

Bruce Prince-Joseph, 89, died April 25, in Kansas City, Missouri. During his childhood in Kansas City he began singing in the choir of St. Paul Episcopal Church, where he was first introduced to the pipe organ. In 1943, he moved to New York City and began organ studies with Pietro Yon at St. Patrick Cathedral, where he spent a brief period as chancel organist. He pursued his undergraduate studies at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he studied organ with Frank Bozyan and composition with Paul Hindemith. Upon graduation, Prince-Joseph moved to Los Angeles where he completed graduate studies at the University of Southern California and served as organist for St. John the Evangelist Church. He was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to study organ in Europe. He returned to New York City to teach at Hunter College in Manhattan, eventually serving as chair of the music department. In 1953, he became organist and harpsichordist for the New York Philharmonic. He made numerous recordings of organ and harpsichord music.

In 1978, Prince-Joseph moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he pursued work restoring old keyboard instruments, particularly pianos. In 1986, he returned to Kansas City, where he began service at St. Mary Episcopal Church. In 2009, he became organist and music director at St. Therese of the Little Flower Catholic Church, and also served as music director for the John Wornall House Museum and the Alexander Majors House Museum, restoring the 19th-century square pianos of the collection. He also served on the committee for the installation of the Casavant organ at Helzberg Hall in the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

 

McNeil Robinson II died May 9 in New York City. He was 72. Robinson served as organist and music director in New York City for Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, Park Avenue Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, the Church of the Holy Family at the United Nations, and the Trinity Institute of Trinity Church (Wall Street). His tenure at Park Avenue Synagogue spanned five decades. He also had long associations with St. Thomas Church (Fifth Avenue) and the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.  

Robinson, known for his improvisations, performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan, and recorded for the l’Oiseau Lyre, Decca, LIRS, and Musical Heritage Society labels. A proponent for historical performance practice for music from all eras, he conducted the first twentieth-century performances of selected works by Cavalli, Carissimi, Pergolesi, Alessandro Scarlatti, and Zelenka, as well as early works of Mozart and Méhul. He premiered works by such composers as Jacob Druckman, Vladimir Ussachevsky, Robert Starer, David Diamond, Charles Morrow, and Jack Gottlieb. 

As a composer, Robinson received commissions from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the American Guild of Organists, Group for Contemporary Composers, Meet the Composer, and numerous churches throughout the United States. Of his compositions for the organ, he was most proud of his Concerto for Organ and Orchestra, commissioned by the American Guild of Organists and the San Francisco Symphony for the 1984 AGO national convention, and Dismas Variations, which found its way into the required repertoire for the AGO National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance. His works are published by Theodore Presser, C.F. Peters, and Oxford University Press. 

Robinson joined the faculty of the Manhattan School of Music in 1984 and chaired the organ department there between 1991 and 2015. He also chaired the organ department at the Mannes College of Music and taught at the Hartt School of Music, Queens College, and Yale University. His students included Jason Roberts, Justin Bischof, and Aaron David Miller.

McNeil Robinson was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and at age 14 entered the Birmingham Conservatory as a piano student of Hugh Thomas. By age 17, he had performed as soloist with the Birmingham Symphony (now the Alabama Symphony Orchestra). Robinson attended Birmingham Southern College as a full-scholarship student, and moved to New York City in 1962 to continue his piano studies as a full-scholarship student of Leonard Shure at the Mannes College of Music. He also studied privately with Rosina Lhévinne and Beveridge Webster. In 1966 he entered the Juilliard School and studied organ with Vernon de Tar and Anthony Newman, and composition with Vincent Persichetti. He graduated in 1970, receiving the Juilliard Faculty Award.

Following his study at Juilliard, Robinson continued organ study with George Faxon, Russell Saunders, and Catharine Crozier, and with Guy Bovet and Monserrat Torrent at the University of Salamanca (Spain), and composition with Yehudi Wyner and Jacob Druckman. A significant influence in Robinson’s life was Marcel Dupré, several of whose works became signature pieces for Robinson. 

McNeil Robinson is survived by his wife, Maria Cristina Robinson, a brother, Robert Michael (Janice) Robinson, and many nieces and nephews. His life and career will be celebrated in New York City at a date, time, and location to be announced (see Agohq.org).

 

Robert Tucker, 60, died May 10 in Atlanta, Georgia. He studied organ performance at the University of South Carolina, and after holding a number of church positions in South Carolina moved to Atlanta, where he was well known as a substitute and long-term interim organist, and continued to concertize. Tucker held the American Guild of Organists’ Service Playing Certificate and was active with the local chapter, serving as transportation information chair for the regional convention. He was the creator and caretaker for the Georgia Pipe Organ information link found on the chapter website and assisted in the posting of job opportunities. At the time of his death, Tucker was the office manager at Parkey OrganBuilders in Norcross, Georgia, where his quick wit and cool efficiency earned the profound respect of staff and clients. Robert Tucker is survived by his partner, Jay Ellis. ν