It may be Don Ingram’s 80th birthday, but he’s more than happy to deflect any gift-giving ideas people may have for him toward the St. George’s Episcopal Church Organ Refurbishment Fund.
On Sunday, Ingram, a semi-retired organist and choirmaster who has served at various churches around the Capital Region, will conduct a special performance of Handel’s “Messiah” sung by more than 60 people, all of them with strong ties to Ingram’s long career.
The ages of the singers range from 17 to 95, and those involved will be coming from seven different states. It’s a planned get-together that Ingram has overseen every five years starting back in 1992 in Newport, R.I., and this year all the proceeds from a $10 donation fee will go to help pay for the cost of refurbishing St. George’s organ.
“In the past, people have made their way through blizzards to get to this event,” said Ingram. “It’s a lot of fun and it’s for a good cause this year. The organ at St. George works fine, but the console needs to be renewed and enhanced. It’s a $40,000 project so we’re going to give them a little help.”
performed by Don Ingram’s choir
WHAT: A fundraiser for St. George’s Organ Refurbishment Fund
WHERE: St. George’s Episcopal Church, 30 North Ferry St., Schenectady
WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday
HOW MUCH: $10 donation
MORE INFO: 374-3163, www.stgeorgesschenectady.org
The 1992 event was held at Newport’s Trinity Episcopal Church, built in 1726, and Ingram expects several members of that choir to travel to Schenectady for this event. One of them, 95-year-old Dorothy Franklin, will be making the trip from Peabody, Mass.
“She was my choir mother for my first job after college in Rhode Island,” said Ingram, who now lives in Latham. “We’ve been friends ever since.”
Performing as soloists will be Mary Abba-Gleason, Judyth Dawson, Sharon Roy, Damon Ayer, Richard Longley, Michael Luby, Scott McCarthy, Eugene Tobey and Kali Rose Morgan. At 17, Morgan is the youngest member of the performing group and is a member at St. George’s, where Ingram has been worshipping for the past five years.
“St. George’s has a wonderful bunch of people there, and they have wonderful hospitality,” said Ingram. “It’s a liberal Episcopal church, and that’s one of the reasons why I’ve made it my parish.”
Accompanying Ingram and his choir will be Andrew Krystopolski, director of music at St. George’s.
One of the most popular choral works in Western music, “Messiah” was composed by George Frideric Handel in 1741. Portions of the scriptural text were compiled by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible.
Handel had become famous for writing Italian opera but turned to English oratorio in the 1730s.
The work has been revised and amplified by various composers, including Mozart.
“We’re going to do Part One of Handel’s ‘Messiah’ and the ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ ” said Ingram. “It will be about an hour and a quarter of music. We’ve had rehearsal the last two Tuesdays, with about 20 people, and they’ll be around 70 for the actual performance. We’ve done it before, so they all know what’s going on.”
A native of Hinsdale in western New York, Ingram is a graduate of Syracuse University.
“I got my bachelor’s and my master’s at Syracuse, and I’m very proud of that,” he said. “I’ve been playing the organ and conducting for most of my life and I love them both. I guess the one I’m doing at the moment is what I love best.”
Installed in 1982
The organ was built and installed at St. George’s in 1982. It is located in the choir loft directly above the west doors of the church, and is housed in three separate chambers. It features a silver facade crowned with a trumpet-en-chamade (pipes mounted horizontally). The console is built from hand-rubbed mahogany.
“The singers will be in the south transept, and I’ll be up in the organ gallery at the west or rear of the church,” said Ingram. “It’s not a very high building, but St. George’s is a very handsome place, and it’s very appealing to sing there.”