A world of music for sale in the South Church basement

Published on Tuesday, 30 October 2018 20:53
Written by Erica Drzewiecki


NEW BRITAIN - A music lover’s treasure trove is hiding inside the basement of South Church.

Among an eclectic collection of musical paraphernalia for sale is recently-retired Music Director Richard Coffey’s personal 1988 copy of music for “La Boheme” by Giacomo Puccini.

The Music Series at South Church Steering Committee held the All Things Musical Tag Sale the last two weekends, but still have quite a few items to part with.

“This was going to be the last day of the sale but we’re still hoping people will come by,” Committee member Sarah Potter said on Oct. 21. “If anyone wants to get in touch with the church before Nov. 1, they can schedule a time to come down and see what we have.”

The sale is a fundraiser for the church’s popular music series, now in its 45th year. The series consists of five concerts open to the public with a free-will donation, featuring renowned musicians. Organist Katelyn Emerson will kick off the 2018-19 series on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 4 p.m.

A Candlelight Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is set for Sunday, Dec. 23, featuring South Church’s Chancel Choir. Then new Music Director Michelle Horsley Parker will present “Darkness and Light” Jan. 20, followed by the Yale Whiffenpoofs a cappella ensemble April 7 and the American String Quartet with pianist David Westfall April 28.

The series has sustained itself for more than four decades through grants and donations. More recently, the tag sale has supplemented the effort.

Committee Chairwoman Jean Esselink and fellow members have collected items from church members, local choral groups and musicians over the years. They are now sorted by type, from operas and choral music to tambourines and biographies of composers.

“We would love to find homes for all of this stuff,” volunteer Cynthia Mellon said.

There’s the Rev. Robert Lowry’s “Royal Diadem for the Sunday School” printed in 1873, “Hymns for the Space Age” by Edward Chipman, “Twenty-four Italian Songs and Arias,” and so many more.

Mellon, Potter and others gushed over titles they came across Sunday, like “Czerny Selected Pianoforte Studies” by Heinrich Germer (copyright 1916) and John Thompson’s Modern Course for the Piano, “Teaching Little Fingers to Play” from 1936.

“I bought two copies of “Dona Nobis Pacem” here because the Hartford Chorale is doing that in the spring with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra,” said Danielle Foint, visiting from Agawam, Mass. “My granddaughters are taking piano lessons and I bought a whole bunch of sheet music here as well. This is a wonderful resource for musicians who love to collect music.”

At the last sale in fall 2017, a Trinity College professor came in search of 78 rpm records.

“We had a bunch of them,” Potter recalled. “He came back this weekend and found music to match the scores, so people can read it while they’re listening to the records.”

Music teachers used to get a special preview of the sale before anyone else, pointed out Laurie Miner. Many of the sight reading and teaching books have been picked through now, however.

“There’s so little funding for the arts in schools,” Miner added.

The All Things Musical Tag Sale is now open by private appointment only. People interested can call South Church at 860-223-7555.

Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or edrzewiecki@centralctcommunications.com.

Posted in New Britain Herald, , New Britain on Tuesday, 30 October 2018 20:53. Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2018 20:56.