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As Luck Would Have it

As Luck Would Have it

Truth is often stranger than fiction, and, at times, it can even be fascinating. Such was the case for me, as I was trying to find some organ sheet music back in 2013. One of my hobbies is playing the organ; I find it to be very satisfying. I tell people that it is the most fun allowed by law, and, nowadays, with the help of the internet, it is easier than ever to obtain sheet music, especially for classical music that is past copyright (see I'm constantly in search of new pieces to add to my collection. 

One of my first encounters with Norman Coke-Jephcott's compositions was when I heard his "Tansy" (for Organ), as performed by Charles Callahan on his CD entitled "Cathedral Echoes." When I googled Norman Coke-Jephčott, I ran across a 33-page history of his life, as researched by his great nephew, Roger Jephcott. 



As I was reading the composer's biography, I came across a statement that gave me some hope of where I might find the sheet music I was looking for: "One of Norman's students, David Pizarro, who later became organist at St John the Divine, collected much memorabilia, including sheet music, about Norman. When David died, his widow didn't know what to do with it all, and I made arrangements for it to be sent to the AGO Library in Boston." 


After emailing the American Guild of Organists Library and getting a reply back that they didn't have it, I conjectured that maybe some of the pieces that were donated to the library had not been indexed yet. Obviously, Charles Callahan, the organist who recorded the piece, had a copy and I told 'the people at the AGO library that I appreciated the fact that Mr. Callahan would not want to be inundated with these types of requests, but I thought that their organization would have an “in” with organists of his caliber. I also offered to donate money to their cause, if that would make any difference. That was October of 2013. In April of 2014, I got the following email: 

Dear Mr. Anderson, 

My name is Anita. I have been a volunteer at the Ago Organ Library in Boston for the past twelve years. We are currently in-between librarians. I came across your message while I was checking the OL's e-mail account. I am writing to clear up some misinformation that you were given by the previous librarian. 

Unfortunately, the Pizarro archive was not sent to the Organ Library. The entire collection was sent to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York about three years ago. My son, Raymond, happens to be the assistant organist at the Cathedral. It was only because of this coincidence that the Organ Library received any of the Pizarro collection. Raymond was able to arrange for the published organ music from the Pizarro collection to be donated to the Organ Library. The Cathedral retained all of the the unpublished works, manuscripts and choral works, as well as all of the personal papers, in the collection. 

When I found your message, I asked my son to look in the papers at the Cathedral to see if he could locate "Tansy." It took some time, but he was able to find it. I have attached the scan he sent me to this message. I apologize for the misinformation that you were given, as well as the amount of time that has elapsed since your request. I hope that this music will still be of use to you. 

Sincerely, Anita 

Here's where it all ties together - For many years, RidgeCrest Herbals, Inc. was owned by Clyde St. Clair and Paul Warnock. Clyde St. Clair's funeral was on the day before Thanksgiving in 2009, and Paul Warnock's funeral was on the day before Thanksgiving in 2014. I was asked to play an organ solo at Paul's funeral, and the piece that I chose to play was "Tansy" by Norman Coke-Jephcott, the subject of this story. Later, when I got curious about what Tansy meant and looked it up, it was defined as "an old-world herb, commonly used for medicinal purposes." Yes, truth is stranger than fiction; I couldn't make this up.

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1 comment

Eric Osborne

Eric Osborne

Is it possible to get a copy of Tansy or at least contact information request a copy?

Many Thanks

Eric Osborne

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