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RB News & Notes
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RB News & Notes

June 8, 2012

Roberta Bitgood Organ Scholar Anna Pan

Filed under: Bitgood Collections News, New Reminiscences — Grace @ 8:34 am

Members and friends of the New London County chapter of the American Guild of Organists heard Bitgood scholarship winner Anna Pan give a very respectable account of a Bach fugue and a challenging movement from a suite of pieces by Louis Vierne at this year’s members’ recital on June 3, held at Calvary Episcopal Church, Stonington CT. Ms. Pan, who has won the scholarship for the second year running, provided a progress report on her organ study over the past year, which is available on the Bitgood Scholarship “winners” page.

June 20, 2011

Summer 2011 Bitgood giveaways

Filed under: Uncategorized — Grace @ 1:32 pm

(1) Free to good home: 100 single sacred anthems, mostly SATB, some including handbell parts, some from the Lorenz and Choristers Guild review distributions Roberta used to receive. The provenance of others is uncertain. A few names of note: 1 piece by Gordon Young; 2 by Alec Wyton; 7 by Ronald Arnatt; several arrangements of Hal Hopson; 1 piece by Gerald Near.

(2) For a small contribution to the Roberta Bitgood scholarship fund: Roberta’s collection of ceramic chorister figurines (includes 1 conductor, and 1 keyboard monk with two singing monk companions.

(3) Free to a willing home: small collection of musical instruments (1 recorder) and art objects (a pair of violin and cello bookends, a ceramic grand piano candy box, a boy chorister duo wall plaque).

Phone me anytime at 617/538-5185 to leave a message about your interest.

Grace

August 16, 2010

Claimed! Organ & choral LP giveaways from the Roberta Bitgood professional collections

Filed under: Bitgood Collections News — Grace @ 11:58 am

Two groups of (mostly) 33¹/³ LP recordings from Roberta Bitgood’s professional collections were offered for adoption at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Americal Guild of Organists, New London County Chapter, held on 6 June 2010.

The first group was comprised of recordings from the organ literature (and one organ workshop) as performed by organ luminaries of the 20th century, including a few of the less well-known, many of whom Roberta counted as personal friends.

Performers included: Mildred Andrews, E. Power Biggs, David Craighead, Catherine Crozier, Marcel Dupré, Maurice and Marie-Madeleine Duruflé, Lynwood Farnam, Virgil Fox, Howard Kelsey, Max Miller, Thomas Murray, Robert Noehren, Calvert Shenk, Albert Schweitzer, Carl Staplin, Carl Weinrich, William Whitehead, and Alec Wyton.

A few items from this group were claimed by AGO members in attendance on June 6: “Virgil Fox at Symphony Hall,” E. Power Biggs’ album entitled “Stars and Stripes Forever,” an organ workshop by Alec Wyton, and the two recordings made by William Whitehead (including one featuring the organ of the Philadelphia Academy of Music).

The rest of the above group (41 items) remained available for adoption: the updated list is available here. If you are interested in any of these, please give me a call. [Update 25 Jan 2014--The rest of Roberta Bitgood's organ LPs were subsequently claimed by a single New London County AGO chapter member. The choral collection was donated to the New London Public Library book sale.]

The second group of recordings features choral works, both important and little-known, as performed and conducted by groups and conductors that were of interest to Roberta. A list is not available at this time, again give me a call if you’re interested.

June 8, 2009

Bitgood souvenirs donated at AGO New London 2009 Annual Meeting

Filed under: Bitgood Collections News — Grace @ 10:29 am

It was our pleasure to attend the June 7 AGO New London County Chapter interfaith program on diverse liturgical traditions, followed by a sumptuous Middle Eastern meal and the chapter’s annual meeting. The following souvenirs from the former office of Roberta Bitgood were donated to the new music school currently undergoing incorporation at Christ Episcopal Church, Norwich.

(1) Plaster of Paris bas-relief of St. Cecilia at the organ (round, white, about 5″ in diameter, with an embedded hook at the back for hanging on the wall).

(2) Framed print of the 17th-century painting St. Cecilia and an Angel, by the Italian Orazio Gentileschi, held at the National Gallery of Art (a small framed poster, about 11″ x 14″ including the frame). For interesting information about this painter and his daughter, see: http://www.cosmos-club.org/web/journals/2004/schiff.html

(3) Leaded stained-glass votive light container (about 7″ high, and about 3″ x 3″ square).

(4) Plaster of Paris bust of JS Bach (about 10″ high, pretty substantial).

(5) Plaster of Paris bust of Beethoven (about 7″ high).

Additionally, the former national AGO president’s gavel was turned over to current AGO New London County Chapter Dean, Jesse Glaude, for use by himself and future New London County Chapter deans in carrying out their parliamentary responsibilities.

June 21, 2008

Online performances of Bitgood works

Filed under: Bitgood Music Online — Grace @ 10:49 pm

Working up to the idea of making audio downloads or streaming broadcasts of organ performances by Roberta Bitgood available, I have been scanning the environment for existing online performances of Bitgood compositions. These include a performance by Frances Nobert of the Choral Prelude on “God Himself Is With Us,” included in one of Michael Barone’s Pipedreams programs entitled “American Perspectives.” The program was broadcast on November 5, 2001, and is still available on the Web at:
http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/listings/2001/0145/

With appropriate gadgets inside or attached to your computer, you can listen to the program easily. I’ll keep looking for more Bitgood audio streams and add to this post when more are found. Meanwhile, stay tuned for performances by Roberta Bitgood herself–a challenge to put online, but I’d like to try. We have already processed audio files derived from Roberta’s two known LP recordings. Depending on how the technical issues are resolved, selections from these would certainly be appropriate additions to the Roberta Bitgood Commons site. I hope to make them available from the Memorabilia page. If this effort is successful, I will post a separate notice about it.

June 8, 2008

Let There Be Light: 35 copies CLAIMED

Filed under: Please Claim Me! — Grace @ 1:41 am

A multi-copy set of well-used copies of the Bitgood cantata for junior choirs, Let There Be Light (published in 1965, Sacred Music Press), is available to be claimed by anyone interested. There are 35 copies in the box. Please let me know (gwiersma [at] mit [dot] edu) if you would like these and I will arrange to get them to you. If you have the phone number, feel free to call.

Purpose of RB News & Notes

Filed under: About This Blog — Grace @ 12:17 am

This is a new installation of the WordPress blogging software, and also a new version release (2.5.1, which we are still getting used to). One purpose of RB News & Notes is to provide a virtual space where friends of the Roberta Bitgood Commons and others interested in my mother’s life and career may learn more about newly available information and materials uncovered in processing her professional collections. When new materials are added to the Roberta Bitgood Commons site, whether they be previously unpublished reminiscences, newly scanned documents, images, or other media, a notice will be posted here.

RB News & Notes is not intended to be a “blog about blogging” (so we will keep documentation and discussion of technical matters to a minimum). Neither is it a blog for denizens of the “blogosphere” (there are plenty of those elsewhere). The main idea is to provide a convenient yet dynamic resource for sharing new Bitgood information, such that the community of interest can be reached, and the task of disposing of the Bitgood collections can be facilitated. In short, RB News & Notes is designed more as a virtual bulletin board than as a blog.

In general, we do not plan to allow user comments, in hopes of keeping the maintenance of RB News & Notes to a minimum. Instead, if users find information here which they wish to pursue (for example, if they wish to claim a multiple set of choir parts that has been offered), they may send e-mail to the address provided in the relevant post (or get in touch by phone) to arrange transmittal of the materials they would like to claim. Comments generally turn out to be spam, sorry!

Beginning the archival evaluation

Filed under: Bitgood Papers Annex — Grace @ 12:03 am

A rough assessment of Roberta Bitgood’s unprocessed papers in terms of what is where, with reference to physical locations in her home, and the extent and content of the materials, is the starting point of my evaluation process. I hope that an overall survey of materials in each location at the Bitgood home can provide the basis for further analysis and processing, such that the unprocessed Bitgood collection can soon begin to be compared with its companion archive at Connecticut College. Four main locations need to be surveyed:

(1) the second floor studio

(2) the ground floor bedroom

(3) the basement

(4) the ground floor passageway

As of June 1, I am working in the basement. In this location alone, I have uncovered materials fitting all 7 categories listed in the previous post. To review, these are:

  • (I) Clippings
  • (II) Printed programs
  • (III) Correspondence
  • (IV) Notebooks
  • (V) Music formats
  • (VI) Books and pamphlets
  • (VII) Periodicals
  • June 7, 2008

    Outline of the unprocessed Bitgood papers

    Filed under: Bitgood Papers Annex — Grace @ 11:36 pm

    Between 1999 and 2003, after resigning from her final position as organist and choir director of Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Waterford, Connecticut, Roberta Bitgood lived at home under the care of her family with the help of an able part-time staff. In 2003 she moved to the Odd Fellows Home of Connecticut in Groton, where she remained until her death in 2007. Her papers now formed two separate corpora, one collection already owned by Connecticut College and partly described by Carolyn Johnson, Librarian of the Greer Music Library, the other collection remaining at her home in Quaker Hill, still unprocessed.

    The task of organizing and analyzing the unprocessed collection, to determine whether transmittal of parts of it to the Shain Library (as annexes to the existing archive) would be desirable or appropriate, was complicated by the fact that some materials had remained embedded in the business of Dr. Bitgood’s daily life until its regular patterns were either disrupted or forgotten, while some others had apparently not been seen since their storage in containers prior to moving to Connecticut many years before.

    Another problem was the unknown degree to which particular materials duplicated papers and printed resources already collected and maintained by the Shain Library’s Department of Special Collections as described above. It seemed likely, however, that parts of the unprocessed collection represented unique documentation of Roberta Bitgood’s career which could justifiably be annexed to the Roberta Bitgood Archive and made accessible to future researchers.

    A bird’s-eye view of the scope of the unprocessed collection (hereafter, the Bitgood Papers Annex) would need to include the following categories:

    (I) Clippings

    Clippings about Roberta Bitgood

    Other clippings (RB collected or received in correspondence)

    (II) Printed programs

    Recital programs (organ, given by Roberta Bitgood)

    Recital programs (organ, RB attended or received in correspondence)

    Convention and workshop programs (mostly AGO, but various auspices)

    Other musical programs (featuring Roberta Bitgood as a participant)

    Other musical programs (RB attended or received in correspondence)

    Printed orders of worship (churches served by Roberta Bitgood)

    Printed orders of worship (featuring Roberta Bitgood as a participant)

    Printed orders of worship (RB attended or received in correspondence)

    (III) Correspondence

    Correspondence and papers—professional activities (AGO business, church employment, organ consultations, guest appearances: recitals, workshops, etc.)

    Correspondence and papers—publications, related contracts, royalties, proposals

    Correspondence and papers—honors, awards, citations

    Correspondence and papers—alumni/volunteer activities

    Correspondence and papers—personal, family

    Miscellaneous records

    (IV) Notebooks

    (V) Music formats

    Music manuscripts—unpublished Bitgood autographs, sketches, unknown/partial works

    Musical scores—oratorios, cantatas, operettas

    Published music by Roberta Bitgood

    Sheet music and collections—liturgical and sacred music (choral, vocal solo)

    Sheet music and collections—organ solo

    Sheet music and parts—instrumental, organ and other instruments

    Sheet music and parts—secular (choral, vocal solo, with piano or organ)

    (VI) Books and pamphlets

    Hymnals and other liturgical collections

    Prayer books and other devotional literature

    Religious press non-fiction

    Trade press non-fiction

    (VII) Periodicals

    The American Organist

    The Diapason

    The Tracker

    May 31, 2008

    Thanks to David Spicer & the Choirs of First Church

    Filed under: Bitgood Festival — Grace @ 1:52 pm

    On May 18th, 2008, the choirs and handbell ringers of First Church of Christ in Wethersfield (Connecticut) were joined by area instrumentalists and conductors in presenting a selection of my mother Roberta Bitgood’s best-known sacred choral works (and a few works not so well known), including her cantata Job, with First Church Minister of Music and the Arts, David Spicer, at the organ. You can see the full program by clicking here.

    In attendance at this revival and appreciation of the Bitgood musical corpus were friends from the First Church community and Hartford area, as well as choir singers from Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Waterford, who had themselves sung most of the works performed here as members of Roberta’s choir in years past. My husband Stuart and I were joined, too, by Dave and Judy Culler (close friends of Roberta since the early 1960s, when they had been members of her choir in Detroit, Michigan). Judy even contributed a violin performance to the program, in remembrance of the many occasions when she had played the same piece with my mother over the years of their friendship. Another group in attendance was a contingent of Bitgood friends and associates from the New London County chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

    The choirs, soloists, and players all gave heartily of themselves in providing us with thought-provoking renderings of works we thought we knew inside out. Their attitude of enthusiasm and reverence for my mother’s achievement allowed listeners to grasp the sincerity of her spiritual quest as she explored, through her own musical language, the meaning of her chosen texts. It was an important milestone for me to get a clear glimpse of what motivated my mother’s earliest works and to experience admiration for her simply as a member of the public. I sent thanks to David and the choirs of First Church, as follows:

    Sincere thanks to all who sang, rang, played and conducted in the Bitgood festival on May 18. Your inspired performances made everyone present appreciate my mother’s music in new ways. The whole event was a wonderful expression of tribute to her as a person, too.

    Cordially,

    Grace Wiersma

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