Nunc dimittis: Ray McLellan, Liuwe Tamminga, and Rev. Ralph Verdi

June 27, 2021

Ray McLellan died April 30. Born in 1958 in Florida, he learned to play the carillon while earning his Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees at the University of Michigan, and he later studied at the Netherlands Carillon School.

A carillonneur member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, McLellan served on a number of GCNA committees, including as an exam juror. He served as university carillonneur at Michigan State University starting in 1997, was an active carillon recitalist in the United States and other countries, and was a faculty member of the North American Carillon School. He taught organ and piano, served as director of music at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church, Monroe, Michigan, and was an accompanist for the Kol Halev Choir of Temple Beth Emeth, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

 

Liuwe Tamminga, 68, died April 29. He was born September 25, 1953, in Hemelum, the Netherlands. Having studied at the conservatory of Groningen, he then went to Paris to study with André Isoir at the organ of the abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Thereafter, he relocated to Italy to tutor with Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini, with whom he began a thirty-year collaboration working with historic instruments.

From 1982 until his death, he served as organist of the Basilica of San Petronio, Bologna, Italy, which houses historic organs by Lorenzo da Prato (1471–1475) and Baldassarre Malamini (1596). For much of his time at this church, he shared his duties with Tagliavini, who died in 2017. Tamminga was noted for his performances of early Italian music on organ and harpsichord. He played and presented masterclasses throughout Europe and abroad, including the Academy for Italian Organ Music at Pistoia, Italy, and the Haarlem Summer Academy for Organists, Haarlem, the Netherlands. He was a collaborative musician with ensembles such as Odhecaton and Concerto Palatino.

Tamminga served as curator of the Tagliavini collection of instruments acquired in 2010 by Genus Bononiae in the Museum of San Colombano, Bologna. The collection includes organs, harpsichords, clavichords, pianos, and automated instruments from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries. As a musicologist, he edited publications of the music of Marco Antonio Cavazzoni, Jacques Buus, and others. His numerous recordings from 1991 through 2017 include two compact discs of the organ works of Giacomo Puccini. Other recordings featured works of Frescobaldi, Mozart, Palestrina, Cavazzoni, and Giovanni Gabrieli.

 

Reverend Ralph Verdi, C.PP.S., 76, died May 10 in Carthagena, Ohio. Fr. Verdi was born September 21, 1944, in New York. He entered the Society of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood in 1962 at St. Joseph’s College, Rensselaer, Indiana, and was ordained to the priesthood on June 19, 1971, at St. Charles Seminary, now St. Charles Center, Carthagena, Ohio.

After ordination, Fr. Verdi returned to St. Joseph’s College to teach in its music department. He later attended the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., for graduate studies in music, earning a doctoral degree in composition. He then continued in music and education at St. Joseph’s College, particularly with the Rensselaer Program of Church Music and Liturgy, teaching music theory and composition.

In 2005, he was appointed parochial vicar at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Cleveland, Ohio. In 2010, he served as sacramental minister at St. Rita and Precious Blood Parishes in Dayton, Ohio, later becoming part-time chaplain for the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Dayton.

Fr. Verdi retired to St. Charles Center in 2015. With his health declining, he launched his search for a kidney transplant, which took place in late 2017. He faced numerous medical obstacles during his recovery, but eventually made his way back to St. Charles Center, where he spent his last years.

Fr. Verdi incorporated music into his priestly ministry as a teacher and composer. He composed several hymns to the Precious Blood as well as a “Votive Mass for St. Gaspar del Bufalo” and the Precious Blood Founders Hymn Collection. His compositions were published by GIA Publications, Chicago, Illinois, including “Come, Let Us Adore,” “Psalm for Christmas,” and “Psalm for Pentecost.” He served as a contributing editor to the publisher’s hymnals, Worship II (1975) and Worship, Third Edition (1986).

Reverend Ralph Verdi is survived by his brother Richard (Mary) of Bronx, New York; and his sister Barbara (Frank) Rakas of Yonkers, New York. A funeral Mass was celebrated privately on May 14 at St. Charles Center with burial in the community cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Cincinnati Province: cpps-preciousblood.org.