Nunc Dimittis

May 2, 2011

Nancy Jane Blair died November 6, 2010. A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, she graduated from Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, and earned a master’s degree in church music from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, where she also received a distinguished service award. Blair served as minister of music at the First Baptist Church of Osceola, Arkansas, from 1961–76, and organist-music associate at Briarlake Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia, from 1976 until her retirement in 2002. A member of the Atlanta AGO chapter, she prepared the handbell group for the premiere of Alice Parker’s The Wells of Salvation during the 1992 AGO national convention.

Rodney Alan Giles died December 4 at age 63. Born in Kansas City, Missouri, he earned a BMus in organ at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, studying with Bethel Knoche, and an MA in organ from Ohio State University, studying with Gordon Wilson. Giles served as minister of music and organist at the First Baptist Church of Kansas City from 1973–89; as college organist and adjunct instructor at Park College (now University) in Parkville, Missouri; university organist and instructor at Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas; as a staff organist at the RLDS (now Community of Christ) Auditorium in Independence, Missouri (1967, and 1973–85); and at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria, for five summers in the 1980s.
A member of the Greater Kansas City AGO chapter since 1962, he served as chapter dean in 1978–79. Giles moved to New York City in 1989 and served as organist-director of music at Hansen Place Central United Methodist Church in Brooklyn and later at West Park Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. From 2001 he spent winters in Florida, where he served as minister of music at First Congregational Church of Fort Lauderdale. Rodney Alan Giles is survived by his mother, two sisters, a brother, and nieces and nephews.

James Noel Grenhart died January 13 in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. He was 69 years old. A gifted pianist-accompanist, organist, and choir director, Grenhart made his living as a financial analyst. He had played at Holy Comforter Church in Drexel Hill beginning in 2003, and then at the Church of the Redeemer in Springfield. Grenhart was a member of the Philadelphia AGO chapter. James Noel Grenhart is survived by a sister, a brother, and several nieces and nephews.

Hugh Allen Wilson died on December 18 in Lake George, Bolton Landing, New York. He was 85 years old. An organist, harpsichordist, and conductor, his first professional position was at the age of 14, as choir director-organist for St. James’ Episcopal Church in Lake George. He taught at Union College in Schenectady from 1962–96; in 1977, he conducted the glee club in a performance at the White House for Jimmy Carter’s first state dinner. Wilson attended Yale College, where he studied organ with H. Frank Bozyan, theory with Paul Hindemith, and musicology with Leo Schrade, graduating in 1946. He studied musicology from 1947–49 at Yale University, and studied organ with Marcel Dupré in France and harpsichord with Gustav Leonhardt in Holland.
Wilson was founder and co-conductor of the Bolton Festival of Music in 1948, founder and first dean of the Adirondack AGO chapter, and cofounder of what would become the Lake George Opera Festival. During his career, he gave more than 1,000 public performances; they included a performance of Honegger’s King David at Alice Tully Hall with narrator John Houseman in 1975 and at the National Cathedral in Washington in 1983, and the debut of an organ concerto written for him by Union College professor Edgar Curtis in 1966. Hugh Allen Wilson is survived by his longtime companion, Marshall Ford, and many friends and colleagues.

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