Nunc dimittis

August 1, 2017

Nunc Dimittis

William Thomas Farrell, III, died April 27. He was born May 20, 1934, in San Antonio, Texas. He attended San Antonio College, studying organ performance with Donald Willing.

Farrell’s interest in the organ would change from performing to building, voicing, and maintenance of instruments, and he was accepted as an apprentice to Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company’s tonal finisher, Roy Perry, who was based in Kilgore, Texas. He also became affiliated with Jimmy and Nora Williams, the regional installers for Aeolian-Skinner. Farrell assisted in the installation of the firm’s pipe organs in San Antonio’s Central Christian Church and the Madison Square Presbyterian Church, as well as Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas, before relocating to New York City in 1960. There, he was curator of instruments at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Paul’s Chapel, Columbia University, and Philharmonic Hall (now David Geffen Hall), Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, among others. Farrell would install the pipe organ in the residence of Virgil Fox as well as assisting with many of Fox’s later recordings.

Returning to San Antonio in the early 1970s, Farrell maintained many instruments in Texas, including the Aeolian-Skinner organ at the University of Texas, now relocated to a church in Amarillo, and he tonally finished the first large analog organs built by Rodgers Instruments of Hillsboro, Oregon. In addition, he rebuilt instruments in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, also providing tonal finishing and new installations in the United States for Fratelli Ruffatti of Padua, Italy.

Tom Farrell was predeceased just a few weeks before his death by his partner of 57 years, Louis A. Goedecke, himself a master craftsman in woodworking. Together, they had formed the Farrell Organ Company of San Antonio.


James R. Metzler of Sylvania, Ohio, internationally known organist and choral conductor, died suddenly May 19. He was born June 20, 1947, in Worcester, Massachusetts. He began his musical career as a boy chorister in the Choir of Men and Boys at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Worcester. While a member of the choir, he began lessons on the church’s Aeolian-Skinner organ. 

Metzler earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Westminster Choir College, Princeton, New Jersey, and a Master of Music degree from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, Connecticut. He also pursued doctoral studies in organ and musicology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His organ teachers included Henry Hokans, Robert Carwithen, Alec Wyton (improvisation), John Holtz, Marilyn Mason, and Martin Neary at Winchester Cathedral in England. Additional studies were taken at the Royal School of Church Music, Addington Palace, Croydon, England.

James Metzler served as organist/choirmaster/director of music at Trinity Episcopal Church, Toledo, Ohio, from 1972 to 1996; Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Little Rock, Arkansas, from 1996 to 2006, where he was appointed Canon of Music; and churches in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from 2006 until 2016.

Metzler received the Choir Master certificate from the American Guild of Organists, earning the highest score in the country, and he was awarded the S. Lewis Elmer Award for the highest score of all diploma candidates. He held a Fellowship diploma from the Cambridge (England) Society of Musicians (FCSM); a Fellowship diploma from the Guild (England) of Musicians and Singers (FGMS); a Fellowship diploma from the Honourable Company of Organists (FHCO), Toronto; and an Honorary Fellowship diploma from the National College of Music and Arts (HonFNCM), London, for services to music. In addition, he was a member of the American Guild of Organists, the Organ Historical Society, and the Royal School of Church Music. 

Metzler presented organ recitals in the United States and abroad, including three in Westminster Abbey, London, two in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, as well as in Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, which he considered to be the highlight of his performing career, Norwich Cathedral (UK), King’s College Chapel (Cambridge University, UK), Westminster Cathedral, London, Worcester Cathedral (UK), Ely Cathedral (UK), St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, New York City, Washington National Cathedral, and, most recently, at the Church of the Madeleine, Paris, in April 2017. Recordings of his organ and choral performances are available at 

As an educator, he taught on the music department faculties at Mitchell College, New London, Connecticut; the University of Toledo, Ohio; and at Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan. As a choral conductor, Metzler directed over 25 choral residencies to England, leading the music for more than 100 services in Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, York Minster Cathedral, Canterbury Cathedral, Durham Cathedral, Salisbury Cathedral, Norwich Cathedral, Guildford Cathedral, Southwark Cathedral, Chester Cathedral, Liverpool Cathedral, St. Martin-in-the-Fields (Trafalgar Square), Ely Cathedral, Christ Church (Oxford), and St. George’s Chapel (Windsor). In August 1995, he was privileged to direct the music for the British VJ Day 50th Anniversary Commemoration Service in York Minster Cathedral.

A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Cathedral, Toledo, Ohio, on May 24, 2017.

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