We were saddened to learn that our dear friend Charles Page passed away Monday morning (November 30, 2020) – please keep him, his family, his friends and his loving husband, Malcolm, in your prayers. He was a former member of Worcester AGO, and substituted for many of us through the years. Charles made our world a better place.
The following tribute appeared in the December 1, 2020 edition of The Republican newspaper. It was written by Clifton “Jerry” Noble, Jr. who has been the classical music critic for The Republican for more than two decades. As a composer, he has written for clients nationwide, ranging from the Bella Voce Women’s Ensemble in Reno, Nev., to the Canticle Singers of Baltimore. This tribute is reprinted here with permission.
SPRINGFIELD — Former Old First Church Music Director Charles E. Page passed away Monday (November 30, 2020) at the age of 83 in Naples, Florida.
As is so often the case in today’s world, it was social media that bore the sad news, and very quickly a number of former students, choir members, colleagues and friends responded with sincere sweetness, including one assertion that Page now had “…the best choir you could ever have – the Choir of Angels.”
Serving Old First Church for 45 years as organist and choirmaster was only a fraction of the musical presence Page enjoyed in Greater Springfield before retiring in 2005. He was also a professor of music at Bay Path College, a performing member (and long-time artistic advisor) of the Tuesday Morning Music Club, director of Music At First chamber music series, and former dean of the Springfield Chapter of the American Guild of organists.
Page grew up in St. Johnsbury, VT, playing organ in an Episcopal church to earn spending money. Given his own choice, Page once said he would have gone on immediately in music, but his parents, ever practical, encouraged him to go into business.
Following graduation from Boston University with a degree in business administration and marketing, Page went to work for Aetna Life & Casualty Co. in Springfield. Aetna’s offices were a block from Old First Church, and Page happened to hear that the church’s minister of music was leaving.
He wandered by Old First Church one day to ask if they had any interest in an interim organist, scheduled an audition, and within a month accepted a full-time post that he would occupy for nearly half a century.
Music had firmly supplanted business in his life, so Page abandoned insurance and returned to graduate school at Yale University, where he studied organ with Charles Krigbaum and won the Woods-Chandler Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Organ Performance. At Yale, Page also conducted the Apollo Glee Club.
Following graduation with a Master of Music degree, he received a Fulbright Scholarship, took a leave of absence from Old First Church, and traveled to Europe to study with the Dutch concert organist and composer Piet Kee in Amsterdam. During that magical year, he practiced on world-famous organs, attended regular performances at the Concertgebouw, and traveled to Berlin, London, and other European capitals.
It was an extraordinary opportunity. Page played the organ at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, skied the Swiss Alps, visited St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, spent Easter in Rome, and reveled in a week of evensong and choral seminars at Kings College in Cambridge, UK.
Back in Springfield in 1983, Page invited German organist Gunther Kaunzinger to give a recital at Old First Church. His university-earned marketing skills served him well. The concert was such a success that the Music At First Chamber Music Series was born, and blossomed into seasons of sanctuary-filling events featuring musicians of local, national and international acclaim in concerts presented free of charge to large, appreciative Sunday afternoon audiences.
Page made his mark at Bay Path University as well, teaching music, conducting ensembles, and directing musical theater there for several years. The Page Singers, named in his honor, are a group of select vocalists auditioned from the Bay Path Chorale each fall and spring.
Following his retirement from Old First Church, Page’s musical activities seemed to actually escalate! As he traveled across the U.S., he wrote enthusiastically to friends and colleagues about concerts that amazed and excited his eclectic musical taste. Whenever he returned to Springfield, he attended concerts by the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, the Tuesday Morning Music Club, and other organizations, always ready with a supportive word and a discerning comment to share.
For a short time, Page even came briefly out of retirement to serve as interim Director of Music and Organist at Christ Church Cathedral in Springfield, until Todd Beckham’s arrival in the post in late 2019.
Charles Page will be heartily missed and warmly remembered by a host of musicians, parishioners, teachers, students – he touched numerous lives with his kind heart, keen mind, and consummate musicianship.
Musician Florence Alice Dunn, 98, of Boston, died peacefully on October 12 at Sherrill House in Boston. Miss Dunn was born in North Adams, MA, on May 20, 1922, the daughter of Harland and Alice Oakes Dunn. She is survived by two nieces, Catherine Ann Rose of Albuquerque, and Rosalie Dunn and her partner Pamela Meistrich of Stratford, CT. She was predeceased by her brother Robert Dunn and his wife Lillian of Albuquerque and her brother Richard Dunn of San Francisco. Miss Dunn, who was universally known as “Flossie,” grew up in Williamstown and graduated from Williamstown High School in 1940. After receiving an Associate’s degree from Larson Junior College in New Haven, she earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the New England Conservatory in Boston. While at NEC, she was appointed Dean of Women and Resident Head. Later she received the NEC Alumni Award and was recognized for distinguished service by the NEC Alumni Association. In the 1920s and 1930s, Flossie’s father was the poultry manager for Mount Hope Farm, a 1400-acre experimental farm in Williamstown founded by Mrs. Alta Prentice, who was the third daughter of John D. Rockefeller. The Prentices lived in a 72-room summer home, and the Dunns lived in a converted schoolhouse on the property. Mrs. Prentice’s chauffeur attended the Second Congregational Church in Williamstown, and when she learned from him that the church had lost its organist, she made sure that Flossie, then 12 years old, was hired for the job. Six years later, when Flossie was admitted to college but could not afford to go, Mrs. Prentice went to her desk and tallied up all the hours that Flossie had played the organ for Sunday services, weddings, and funerals. It turned out that Flossie’s “back wages” totaled the amount of tuition and fees for four years of college. Mrs. Prentice wrote the check. Flossie had a storied musical career as a teacher, pianist, organist, singer, and music director. She taught at the Emma Willard School in Troy, NY, and for 21 years she was a talented and beloved elementary music teacher for the Brookline Public Schools. Concurrent to that Flossie was a respected member of the faculty of the Berkshire Music Center in Lenox, MA, for 12 years. She was a sought-after accompanist on piano and organ and singer in a multitude of auditioned choruses in MA, NY, and CT. Flossie played the piano and organ for many musical groups, including the Troy Vocal Society, the New England Conservatory Chorus, Chorus pro Musica, and the Boston Cecilia. She was the organist for the Second Congregational Church in Williamstown, for Tabor Lutheran Church in Branford, CT, for the Humphrey Street Congregational Church in New Haven, for the First Baptist Church in Troy, for the Newton Highlands Congregational Church, and for Faith Lutheran Church in Cambridge. For many years, she was assistant organist at Trinity Church in Copley Square in Boston, where she was also director of the Canterbury Chorus. She also served as accompanist for the Coolidge Corner Community Chorus in Brookline. Flossie was also active as a singer, first with the Bach Choir (later known as the Berkshire Chorus) and then with the choirs at Old South Church, the Church of the Advent, and St. Paul’s Cathedral, all in Boston. She sang with Chorus pro Musica and with the Boston Cecilia, with which she toured northern France in 1953. She participated in concerts with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and performed with the Arthur Fiedler Chorus and the Tanglewood Chorus, the latter for 13 seasons. Flossie enjoyed a 60-year-long association, first as accompanist and then as music director, with the Apollo Club of Boston, a men’s chorus founded in 1871. In 2015, she became the group’s Conductor Emerita. Flossie enriched the lives of thousands of schoolchildren, friends, colleagues, and audience members over the course of her long life. Her positive outlook and the energy that she infused into any gathering could be summed up in her own assessment of her life: “I’m living the dream!” In 1997, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Choral Arts New England, an organization that provides resources to encourage choral excellence in New England. She was a loyal member of the College Club of Boston and the Daughters of the American Revolution. A Memorial Service will take place at a future date. To add to an online book of memories, please visit www.flynndagnolifuneralhomes.com Donations may be made to the Apollo Club of Boston, c/o Gerald Hamilton, 12 Antrim Street, East Boston, MA 02128 email@example.com or to the New England Conservatory, 290 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 necmusic.edu/give
From Ray Cornils:
When I moved to Boston in the 1970’s I noticed that at nearly every organ concert I attended a tall, thin, bearded man was quietly sitting near recording equipment. When I became Portland’s Municipal Organist in 1990, that same man, Scott Kent, was recording the programs of the Kotzschmar Summer Series at the invitation of my predecessor, Earl Miller. Over the decades during which Scott faithfully recorded concerts at City Hall I came to know and respect his work.
Scott was a quiet, hardworking man who had a fine ear and a wry sense of humor. His years of attending concerts was evident in his knowledge of the literature and his appreciation for artistry. When assembling a season sampler, he had a great sense of program flow and variety. He obviously kept good notes, as he always knew what pieces had been played in previous years or appeared in former samplers.
His affection for the organ and dedication to the artistry of our profession had a lasting impact on the organ world. He has captured generations of musicians plying their craft. We, throughout New England, celebrate his life, and are thankful for the joy and pleasure his being among us has brought.
From Barbara Owen:
All of us on the Methuen Memorial Music Hall (MMMH) trustee board loved Scott. He was always there early to set up his equipment, and after recording for us for so many years, he knew the exact floor spot and mic height to best capture our organ. We paid him, of course, but it was well below what anyone else of his caliber would charge, and he never raised it over the many years. He always made two copies, one for the artist and one for our archives. Richard Ouellette, who is our Secretary, has also taken up the task of organizing all our archival material, and might give you an idea of how many of his tapes, cassettes and CDs we have. After the program, as he was packing up, we often stopped to chat with him.
Scott also recorded the recitals at Holy Cross for many years, and when there was a program played by several organists, he would give each a special copy of their own performance. There is probably a collection of his recordings there too. Scott recorded music of all kinds and all over the Boston area, but I think his favorite instrument was the organ.
After his first stroke, we all wished him well and hoped for his recovery, but sadly it never happened, and we were told that it was another stroke that ended his life. He will be missed by many.
From Martin Steinmetz:
I knew Scott and worked with him on various projects. He recorded all of the Methuen Music Hall summer recitals. I would ask him to provide me with copies of a few of these recordings for broadcast on the Chapter’s radio program on WCRB; which he always graciously provided.
He was an expert repair person for the Revox brand reel-to-reel tape recorders which were used by the Boston Chapter and other professionals. I would often bring our unit to his house in Wilmington where he would make adjustments or fix if broken.
He was one of the pioneers of a method of restoring the premium back-coated recording tapes sold and used in the 1980s. This type of tape was found to disintegrate and not play after a few years. His method involved heating the tape to a specific temperature to be able to play it only once tin order or transfer the music to a good recording device. This method is used by research libraries to be able to play certain old tapes. Scott was also called the person with a golden ear, as he could hear defects in sound recordings that other did not.
Scott recorded many professional musicians in special sessions to have LP or CD recordings made and sold through his AFKA record label. There are about 30 recordings presently listed on this label.
Scott was elected to be one of the 8 Honorary Members of the Boston Chapter, AGO.
From Leo Abbott:
We had presented our Cathedral Organ Benefit Recital on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020 as a memorial to Scott Kent because of his nearly 30 years of recording at the Cathedral.
From Richard Ouellette:
I knew Scott well. I just finished taking his recordings in the MMMH Archives and filing them in chronological order by year. He recorded for us from about 1976 to 2017. He did cassette recordings up through about 2003 and CDs after that. I am looking for a way to preserve them for the future. Scott was a pretty serious person normally but did have a sense of humor at times. I was on the road with him on some recording projects. I remember his contracts included lodging and meals. Once somebody served him a vegetarian meal and he modified his contracts from then on to include meat with meals. He needed meat to function right. Scott was a knowledgeable person in many subjects with a great memory at one time. However, most people do not that he had his first stroke many years ago and he lost his memory selectively for the years 1980s and 1990s. He remembered his early years and more recent years but not much in the middle. He had to relearn things that he learned from those lost years. I think he covered it up pretty well. Sometime early in 2018 he had a second stroke and we had to find somebody else to record our concerts. He will be missed by MMMH and many others who he used to record like the Portland Kotzschmar people. I know that there are many reel to reel recordings at MMMH that were recorded in the 1960s and early 1970s (not by Scott) that I would like to preserve. Scott would have been perfect to have done that.