Guest Comments 2016
I had no idea what to expect when my organ teacher gifted me a week at The Portageville Chapel. I was nervous to spend a whole week learning new music by myself, but it was magical. I got lost in the music and the beauty of the sunlight coming through the windows of the chapel and was overwhelmed by the peacefulness that comes from putting in hard work for the joy and the beauty of your art. I was amazed at how quickly time passed when I’m not being asked to stop practicing so the 2nd graders can practice for their 1st communion, or to shoot the breeze with the maintenance, or to answer my cell phone, or to practice with a soloist or choir…. The list goes on. It is a miracle to get one hour of uninterrupted practice time in my church (we also have a Schantz). In two days, I far surpassed what I normally get to practice in a week. We cooked most of our meals at the cottage and had picnic lunches in Letchworth. We had absolutely gorgeous weather and hiked four of the trails in the park. Our favorite unadvertised waterfall was at Wolf Creek – just beautiful. Our little girls loved the cottage so much, they said they want to live here when they grow up! Thank you for this wonderful retreat!
-Libby, Ben, Susan, Sydney
I knew I had read about the Chapel in TAO – and then I had the great privilege of getting to know Helen and Tim, and so here I am for the first time. What a wonderful place, full of beauty, inspiration and quiet (apart from the noisy music!) Thank you for the delight of knowing you both, and thanks to all who have made this possible.
-Marcia, West Chester, PA (Philadelphia AGO)
June 21, 2016 (4th visit to The Portageville Chapel)
Thank you to everyone who makes this wonderful experience possible! I challenged myself this year and brought repertoire I’ve had for years but never had a chance to dive into. Grateful to have had a coaching session with Dr. Congdon – invaluable!
A few items of advice for fellow PVC fans:
- Try the Parade grounds (do drive to the Castile entrance to Letchworth … but if you want a short excursion (free!) just drive over to the Parade grounds on a nice sunny day).
- Play as much as you want, whenever you want. Like the binder says, obviously play softly after 11pm, but I’m sure the neighbors would much rather hear faint 8’ stops than the hair-raising storm alarm that sounded in the middle of last night!
- Go to church on Sunday (if you are comfortable, obviously). There are so many country churches around here and very nice people.
- Take time to learn some of this region’s history – read the displays in the park, the monuments. Find the books in the living room of the cottage.
Thanks so much and hope to return again next year!! (I will remember my organ shoes, I will remember my organ shoes, I will remember my organ shoes, I will remember my organ shoes……)
-Jim, Lincolnwood, IL
June 28, 2016
What seemed like an endless week of peaceful practice has come to an end. This is an extraordinary place – so far removed from the frantic and sometimes chaotic life of suburban/urban music making. The cottage is a pleasant retreat of its own – offering quiet evenings, reading on the front porch. The chapel is wonderful with an organ that lends itself to careful, deliberate practice. I hope to return again soon.
I have once again had a wonderful and entertaining time here. I take delight in reading everyone’s comments here, which echo my feelings exactly.
July 5, 2016
Thanks for a wonderful week to re-create. One could not ask for a more welcoming facility. It has been a joy to rework Clavieruburg III for a recital in October.
July 6-12, 2016
Another amazing week at The Portageville Chapel ( My 5th!)
Got so much practicing accomplished – both learning new rep and resurrecting some pieces I’ve not had the time to touch in my daily routine. So grateful! The whole experience is restorative – from focused practice, to walks through Letchworth and the countryside, the evening reading on the porch, to soft serve custard as a reward for a 6 or 7-hour practice day! Endless thanks to all who make this possible.
July 28, 2016
Another useful and enjoyable week. What a great place!
August 2, 2016
Thanks for a great week! The piano and organ are wonderful. Lots of practice time and hiking at Letchworth. May got some writing done at the cottage. Found some gems in the library. Peace to all who helped make this place a reality.
-John and May, Fredericksburg, VA
August 3-9, 2016
Thank you, thank you for such thoughtful and intentional attention to detail at both the chapel and cottage. You have created an amazing oasis of hospitality and calm. Long walks, long drives, long hours of practice and much planning for the new choir season. I leave refreshed and having taken a big step in plotting out another year. Thank you again!
-Tim, Buffalo, NY
August 10-15, 2016
My week here in Portageville was a gift from my congregation for the occasion of my 25th anniversary with them. Barb Hunt, who is on the Chapel Board, is a member of my church, and made the arrangements for this opportunity for me.
I did not have specific repertoire pieces I wanted to work on, but brought stacks of music to read through. Some went in the, “Let’s work on this” pile, and some went in the “Oh, I remember why I haven’t played this in 30 years” pile. After doing some recycling, there will be more room in my file cabinet.
Unfortunately, I think I picked the hottest, most humid week of the summer. I was very grateful for all of the fans.
Per everyone’s advice, I had lunch at the Glen Iris Inn, which is lovely. I enjoyed driving around the area (in my air-conditioned car!), enjoying the scenery and towns. The most interesting stop I made was at the Jell-O museum in LeRoy!
Thank you to all those who had the vision for this place, and who put in so much hard work to make it a reality.
-Lucille, Dublin, OH
August 17-23, 2016
After quite a busy year with many challenges, our 7th visit to Portageville Chapel did not disappoint. Yet again this place provided the refreshment and relaxation I desperately needed as a church musician for the upcoming church year of music. At the chapel, I discovered some new tips and tricks as a choir director from the library and now can add Bach’s Pastorale, Gigot’s Toccata and a Buxtehude Prelude and Fugue to my repertoire. This year I focused more on the softer sounds of the organ and was thrilled by how well they spoke in the space. (Yes, even in the 7th year, I am still enthralled!). Another highlight was a hymn sing with my wife and 6-week old daughter, Lauryn – her smile as we were singing and I was playing the organ will be something I won’t forget.
This area continues to have many treasures. If you have a chance, visit St. Taco on State Street in Nunda for affordable and excellent food. Saturday, we also visited the Farmer’s Market in Perry and the Day of Yard Sales. I never thought I would have so much fun walking around the community. The people here are friendly and dedicated – it was a delight to meet them. We look forward to returning and thank everyone, especially Tim and Helen, who have made this possible.
P.S. I will miss the countryside and sweet corn as we travel back to the Metro area.
-Robert, Miranda, and family, Fairfax, VA
August 21-30, 2016
What a delightful week we had! It was such a joy to have the chapel and practice time – as already mentioned, you have thought of everything we could possibly need.
I was able to review (and relearn) some of the J. S. Bach repertoire (how easily I forget when my mind is in so many places – but this week I was in a place where concentration was automatic – thank you!).
I was worried my husband might not have enough to do – but he is an avid reader and was also looking at the books here, as well as the ones he brought. My husband organized our exercise – hikes in the morning at Letchworth State Park. What a marvel that place is!
Of course, we loved the Glen Iris Inn; Hole in the Wall Restaurant was also very good. We got our wi-fi at Letchworth Pines and experienced beef on weck for the first time. Bully Hill Vineyards was also a treat!
Thank you for the work and love that you put into this wonderful idea!
-Joyce & Doug, Naples, Florida
August 30-Sept. 5, 2016
Refreshed, restored, inspired. Thanks for another great year!
-Wilber, Asheville, NC
Sept. 14-20, 2016
Around 10 or 12 years ago a friend told me that this was being prepared as a retreat center for organists. It wasn’t quite ready at the time, but it came to mind this winter as I was looking to take some study leave. It is truly a gift and a blessing! I was not expecting the organ to be as versatile as it proved to be. I had Messien scores sent overnight mail and it was thrilling to hear/play it! Thank you all for this gift of beauty and caring. The cottage is wonderful – thanks for equipping it with a nice microwave! Blessings to you all – nice to meet you, Helen.
-Glen, New Jersey
Such a joy to be here! The charm and local flavors definitely met my expectations, but even more so the time to decompress from the regular grind of ministry and life. I leave with a smile on my face, a song in my heart, and inspired to listen, learn and lead others in music. For this I am most grateful! My suggestion to future retreatants would be to take time to drive the 70 miles to the Corning Glass Museum in Corning, NY – It will keep the inspiration and creativity flowing from your hands and feet, AND you can get your Christmas shopping taken care of too!
The BEST grocery store is in Geneseo – Wegmans. And if you need help decompressing to focus your week, my recommendation is to stop in at the Trappist Abbey of the Geneseo, a couple miles north of Geneseo, and experience the monks at prayer in the stone chapel.
-John, Kansas City, MO
Guest Comments 2014
I'm writing on Monday afternoon. I feel great! This week dedicated to studying and practicing music has filled me with confidence and strength. I'm grateful to Helen, Tim and everyone involved in making The Portageville Chapel what it is. This part of New York is so amazing and inspiring.
It seems I may be the first guest of the summer. I played the National Anthem on the house piano to celebrate. Here is some advice for making the most out of your experience here.
Go to Letchworth State Park. I hiked every morning and I was able to concentrate for hours of practicing later in the day.
Explore. There is a lot to see and do around here. Read the black binder.
Browse the library in the chapel. Thanks so much to Thom Robertson for this legacy. There is a lot of wisdom in these books! I found myself renewing baroque articulation and looking at old method books.
Make time for silence and listen.
If you are driving near Buffalo, there are several grocery stores in Cheektowaga/Walden Ave.
Suggeston: How about starting a DVD collection at the house of musical videos. There are a lot available, including AGO videos.
Finally, I once went to a music education conference. At the final celebration dinner, the professor stood up and said grace. He prayed for all those who need to attend a future conference. I hope that anyone in need of an inspiring week like this may find their way here. Let's pray for them!
James Janossy, Lincolnwood, IL
June 25-July 1
As my week in Portageville comes to an end, I think back on the first time I saw an ad for The Portageville Chapel in The American Organist. Year after year I saw the ad and thought about what a terrific idea it was. I'm very glad I finally called and reserved this week at the chapel. I have a renewed sense of confidence in my playing and have gotten myself back into a regular practicing schedule. It's amazing how much one can accomplish without the distractions of other church-related things (i.e. the anthems that need to be filed away or the desk drawer that could use a good cleaning).
The chapel itself was not only beautifully restored, but the acoustics were spectacular, especially for a room so small. The organ, regardless of its modest size, was a joy to play. The range of tonal color it can produce is outstanding. A wealth of soft flutes and gemshorns, an excellent principal chorus, and a reed perfectly scaled for the room make it an organ suited for playing almost any repertoire! Truly outstanding.
The cottage was also very nice and gave my wife a chance to practice the piano and learn some new arias for an upcoming opera workshop. There was no lack of interesting activities in the time not spent at the organ. From hiking in the park to taking a ride on a train pulled by a steam locomotive, to eating outdoors at the Glen Iris Inn, it was a relaxing and productive retreat, which I hope to repeat for many years to come.
I am a "returnee". I found my week here went even faster than last year. I was sad when Monday rolled around knowing it would be my last full day of musical immersion.
After I left last summer, I found I had regained a lot of my confidence in playing again, simply because my week spent here re-charged me and re-encouraged me. It helped me get through another season. This year I also brought a lot of littler pieces to learn. Little gems that get overlooked. This I tend to play more often anyway for services.
Thank you so much for continuing this retreat center. I have told so many people about it and am trying to encourage my organist friends to try it. They are all jealous of me!
John Nowik, N. Plainfield, NJ (Seton Hall University Organist)
This has been my 3rd time to spend a week here, and it's now something that I count on for undistracted practice, reading, listening and planning. What a gift this place is!! I wasn't able to work it into my schedule last summer, and I felt the void all year - in my playing and in getting a handle on the coming season. Thank you, thank you, thank you for continuing this unique retreat!
Peter Dubois, Rochester, NY
The Rosenbergers came back for a second year and, once again, it was delightful to be here. I practiced hours and hours. Loved having time to read through all the new music I just bought at the Boston AGO convention. It's so fun to have time to plan service music and jot down ideas for the whole coming year. The chapel blesses me with such a clear head. It's so freeing to be away from my office and church folk - we all need a break from the usual!!
We highly recommend the train ride in Arcade with its steam, laughing children and the sing-a-long with the accordian player. Walking the grounds and having dinner at the Glen Iris Inn was memorable.
If you're from the Northeast, treasure your summers. We Texans love your climate.
Eat well, drink wine, watch movies and revel in the sounds of the chapel organ.
Cheers to all who follow!
P.S. We were also highly entertained by a three-day auction/estate sale up the street. What fun! Then Brian and Andrew spent one day in Toronto seeing the Hockey Hall of Fame and much more. Glad we remembered their passports.
Kyla Rosenberger, Brian and Andrew - Fort Worth AGO
Thank you for the opportunity to spend a week practicing in The Portageville Chapel. It seems that you have provided every convenience for one to practice (i.e. pencils, metronome, fans, and a tuned pipe organ). The cottage was appointed with nearly everything one could want from home. Also, the helpful information on local restaurants was much appreciated. My favorite is the Glen Iris Inn (the almond/cranberry bread pudding is "to die for"). I hope to return next year!
Ed Howell, Terry H. Wise, Bobby Sullivan, John Raupach - Canton, OH
Many thanks to Helen and all of those involved with The Portageville Chapel. Great work!
It is one of the great ironies of this life that the more successful you become in your career, the less time you spend doing the thing you love the most. Too often we lose track of our calling because the little things get in the way. Paperwork, meeting, planning meetings for when we are going to have the next meeting....
I remember my college instructor telling me, "You'd better learn those big pieces now! You will never have time when you get out in the REAL world!" Of course, as a student, I was like "whatever"....but, of course, he was right!
Portageville Chapel gives you a chance to reframe things, focus, and get back to basics. Hopefully in the process you will discover why you became a musician in the first place!
Every sanctuary should have a Carlyle Corner in the back!
What a piano! My first thought was, oh what a clunker, but then I played it and WOW, what a rich bass. Great for Brahms!
USE THE METRONOME!
Perfect organ for the space! Every day I found a different sound that I liked.
91.5 WXXI Best Classy Radio ever!
P.S. My hobby is fly fishing and I had a great time fishing around Letchworth - 16"
small-mouthed bass. Yippee!
Mark Loring - Grand Rapids, Michigan
Portageville Chapel remains a great blessing! This week went way too fast and this retreat has become something my family depends on each year. After a busy year home at my church, I used this week primarily to "clear my mind/head " and get back to what is important: my faith, family, the basics, and of course practicing the organ! I am happy to add Bach's Toccata, Adagio & Fugue to my repertoire - I finally finished this piece after leaving it unfinished in 2001 (I guess I needed uninterrupted practice time!) I was excited to explore the new library in the chapel and enjoyed sampling music of Pachelbel, Howells and Brubeck and reading books on choral technique. (I was intrigued by the Gregorian chant ones, but I'll save those for next time!)The silence in the chapel allowed me to work on my phrasing, particularly German Romantic works. I also managed to teach my son (now 4) a few organ lessons - it was great to see and hear him play the organ.
Other than the chapel and the "daily" yard sale, we decided to make this a year to explore Perry. I recommend all of the following: The farmer's market on Saturday, The Nearly New Shop at the Episcopal Church, Burlingham Book Store (interesting used books) the mini golf at Charcoal Corral (my brother won a free game) and The Hole in the Wall Restaurant. And, of course, the week was not complete without a visit to Letchworth. Thank you again to everyone that has made this possible. Portageville is the highlight of my family's summer and after this, our fifth year, I cannot wait to return for a 6 th year!
To those who follow - Take a chance and enjoy the organ (AND piano) and do RELAX!
Robert, Mirande, Vieren, and Graham Morehead - Pittsburg, PA
Wow, wow, wow! This is my first trip to The Portageville Chapel and what a real find this place is. Many thanks to Helen Smith and Co. for making this retreat center available. The chapel is a gem - uninterrupted practice time was a real joy. For the first time in years, I felt I made real progress learning new pieces, re-visiting old gems, and planning for the next season. I enjoyed walks in Letchworth State Park and sitting on the front porch of the Glen Iris listening to the falls. And, the food at the Inn is outstanding. Thank you again for a wonderful week. I look forward to many returns in the future.
P.S. The music library is a real treasure!
J. Riggs - Shaker Hts., OH
August 27-Sept. 2
Thank you for a fantastic week here at Portageville Retreat/Chapel! It has been a great opportunity to prepare heart and repertoire for the upcoming season at the churches we serve. Uninterrupted practice time is such a gift - and in a beautiful place with an excellent organ too! Tim really enjoyed "Carlyle Corner" during my evening practices. The library was fascinating. Thanks to all for the warm hospitality and little touches (like a metronome left at the console) that made the week so enjoyable. The "Grand Canyon of the East" also provided a great opportunity for some hiking and photos. We'll certainly recommend Portageville Chapel to organist friends and hope to return, too.
Andrea and Tim McGahan - Montgomery, NJ
I have heard it said that true "genius" ideas are not complicated, but simple ideas brought to life in a meaningful way. This is truly a genius idea in all its simplicity. Yet, the confluence of factors - cottage, scenery, solitude - make this truly a unique place. I have grown fond both of the little chapel and cute cottage. I will sorely miss them! The cottage and chapel have been lovingly prepared, and it is clearly evident. I feel renewed as a musician after my time here. I will spread the word about Portageville to the organists in Texas, and I hope more people will avail themselves of this wonderful place.
Benjamin Kotachziej - Dallas, TX
Our visit this year falls on Columbus Day weekend... something totally different being that we have always come during the summer. Although only a short visit, we were still able to spend time in the chapel playing the wonderful instruments, visiting Letchworth State Park and poking around the cute towns and villages nearby. We certainly missed being here with our dear friends, Cindy and Al Adcock but we know the four of us will spend more time together here in Portageville. Continued thanks to Tim and Helen for this wonderful "retreat" for church musicians. It was a refreshing get-away for us. (we missed seeing gray kitty).
P.S. The renovation work that was done in the back room of the chapel looks great!
Gary Raish - Stroudsburg, PA
A short visit over Columbus Day weekend. Did just a little organ/piano playing. This was more of an escape from the world than a retreat to something. It was nice to just PLAY the organ rather than PRACTICE it. And it was terrific to hear and FEEL those bass octaves on the big old pie-ano. And... being a SUNY/Fredonia graduate ('79) it was great to experience Letchworth in the fall again!
Bob Riday - Stroudsburg, PA
Guest Comments 2013 Season
Once upon a time a school musician and organist was battling a sleepless night . Frustrated, at last he reached for his copy of the American Guild of Organists magazine. An advertisement with a beautiful waterfall and the prospect of a week of uninterrupted organ practice caught his attention.
During a break the next day, he borrowed a cell phone from a fellow teacher and dialed the number. To his great delight, the dates he inquired about were available! After the dust settled in June and the classroom door shut for the summer, he set out for the East, taking with him his old friends Bach, Scarlatti, and Boëllmann.
He discovered that not only was there a lovely chapel with the best organ (and most in tune!) he had ever had exclusive use of, but there was a charming, well-appointed cottage just up the hill. By reading notes in the guest book he learned that it took vision, fortitude and help from many people to keep the chapel going, and he was grateful to all of them. In addition, he was grateful to Mr. Letchworth who so generously helped others and continues to benefit all who are blessed to visit the State Park.
He spent many happy hours (not that kind of happy hour) at the console, enjoyed singing the bass line without puzzled looks from passers-by, left his cell phone off, and even explored some of the hymn books on the shelf. (A chorale a day keeps the Doctor away.) He learned and relearned many valuable lessons, such as the value of slow practice, of using a metronome, and of being mindful of quality not quantity.
Most of the time he used 8-foot stops, but rumor has it that the " Battle Hymn of the Republic" was heard as far away as Chicago when his foot "mysteriously" hit the Sforzando . (The walls shook, too!)
So, thanks for everything. This is a real treasure, and I hope to return!
This has been a wonderful trip. It was so nice to get away from the city for a while, change things up, slow down the pace. The chapel is indeed a wonderful practice facility, a true sanctuary for musical development. I can safely say that I learned the Franck Prière this week - and I can think of no better place to learn such a sublime piece. It definitely needs "atmosphere", and Portageville provides! Thanks for making this such a relaxing (yet productive) place to stay. I'll try to make it out here again soon. Bryan Holten, Rochester, NY
A return to Portageville. Double rainbows at Middle Falls, mostly sunny days and warm weather, truly a blessing we shared this week! The music of many composers permeated the walls of the chapel into the streets of Portageville. From Bach to Gershwin, surely the residents heard the sounds of violin, piano and organ! Just as I remembered from last year, an amazing little chapel! My artistic friends filled the house, as I did the chapel. Canvas, paint, drawing and paper! They even showed me how and my project is almost complete. An extremely productive week for all! Here's to next year at Portageville Chapel! Christine Couch
All good things must come to an end... or do they? The week has gone too quickly for me! It was sunny when I arrived. Then it rained virtually all week. Now that I am leaving, it is sunny again! The rain did not dampen my spirits. I used this quiet week to compose a new setting of Psalm 84, "How Lovely is Thy Dwelling Place" and it doesn't sound anything like Brahams! I also brought music to read through, but I never got around to that. I was so charmed by the organ that I decided to make a recording of my set of 12 miniature pieces, "The Apostles: Twelve Sketches for Organ, based on 12 prints of Salvador Dali".
My approach to this area is different than most who come here. I'm from here - I grew up in Geneseo, New York, where my father was a professor at the college. My family made frequent trips to Letchworth State Park. Indeed we "lived" in our trailer for several weeks one summer in the campground while our new house was being finished! When I was 13, a friend and I rode our bicycles all the way from Geneseo to Portageville over the high railroad bridge! In later years we would take out-of-town guests to visit Letchworth Park - and wineries!
I read two books while here: "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voscamp and "William P. Letchworth: A Man for Others" by Irene Beale. Time to finish packing up belongings - and newly made memories. Hopefully there will be more memories to create here in the future. Robert Green, Jr, Bristol, VA
A wonderful week of discovery and re-discovery! Discovery of new pieces I have wanted to learn - and having the time to truly delve into the structure of those pieces. Re-discovery - dusting off some of my "golden nuggets" of 25-30 years ago! (Yes, I can still play them!)
Being allowed to just concentrate on music and nothing else helped me gain my confidence back as a performer. Being allowed to slow practice without the ears of other people always surrounding me - making me feel self-conscious. Playing the piano in the cottage until late at night - finger exercises, Beethoven, Bach, Mendelssohn Scott Joplin!
Thank you to all who make this happen! Long may it prosper! John Nowik, North Plainfield, NJ
Worshiping rhythm and tone in a living white space
Reveling in emerald green focus, in cobalt blue concentration
Embracing the deep quiet of nature
Tasting the sweetness of simplicity
Drinking in mesmerizing cascades of liquid music
Contemplating the universe in a humble white flower
Consuming skeins of sound wrapped in a blanket of silence
Appreciating a fragrant beam of sunlight
Loving a smoky gray purrr
Savoring the succulent gift of time.
...Not to mention eating a lot of fresh corn! If anything, our second visit was even more enriching, magical and restorative than our first. Vielen, vielen dank!
Mike Rocha and Brian Jones, Boston, MA
Thank you for your vision to provide a retreat facility and cottage for organists. May Portageville Chapel continue to exist for years to come. I spent a productive week at the bench, working on some new pieces and re-learning several pieces to play for church later this year. My sister was glad to see a friendly cat.
We enjoyed spending time at Letchworth State Park and hiking to the waterfalls. Practice breaks also included trips to seven quilt stores in the area. We also enjoyed eating at the Black-Eyed Susan Cafe in Angelica. Gina Simpson, Omaha, NE
Our fifth summer at Portageville and once again we enjoyed a wonderful week of music, rest, relaxation and much fun and fellowship with our dear friends, Cindy and Al. As an added bonus, this year we enjoyed a day trip to Niagara Falls, Canada. As always, the week went too fast! We continue to thank the Portageville Board for continuing this wonderful place of musical retreat for church musicians. ..."Our hope for years to come".
P.S. The remodeling work in the laundry and back bedroom looks great!
Gary Raish and Bob Riday, Stroudsburg, PA
Adding to the above, we also traveled for the second year to Christ Church in Rochester for the Sunday 11:00 am service. In addition to hearing the Craighead-Saunders instrument in the balcony, we heard for the first time the Hark and Hastings organ in the chancel. We have become very familiar with this area of New York State and are more adventurous in finding new places to eat and visit. The concept of this retreat is fantastic. Hopefully, people will come forward over time so that the Portageville experience can be sustainable beyond the efforts of the founders.
Al and Cindy Adcock, Columbus, OH
I don't want to leave! The chapel organ has become a friend and I feel like I have to come back to visit. A huge thank you to all who are responsible for making this retreat center possible. I was able to play through a large amount of music and reconnect with my love of practicing. (I'm determined to take this sense of peace and focus to my sanctuary rehearsing back home.)
Having never been to this part of NY State added to my enjoyment. My husband, son and I found lots of places to explore. The park is beyond beautiful and so well kept. We even added to our adventure with an expedition to Niagara Falls and Toronto - all in one day!
Good luck to all who come after me. Remember we organists have been blessed. Take care of the gray cat and this lovely cottage. Peace
Kyla Rosenberger, Fort Worth, TX
Had a lovely time, as usual! More piano stuff than organ this year, due to approaching deadlines, but still managed to brush up on some Bach and Mendelssohn for upcoming preludes/postludes and learned a few new things of the easier variety. Coming here is a great instruction on how focused you can actually be when you don't have all the distractions and obligations of home. I'm glad to be reminded that I am still capable of staying on task for more than 20 minutes!
Thanks for another delightful week here and the opportunity to play a recital at the end of it! What a beautiful place!
P.S. For next inhabitant - we are leaving some dry cat food behind. You will learn pretty quickly who it is for. Andrew Gordon, Redding, CT
The magic of the chapel and the area of Portageville continues to inspire! This being our fourth time, I am once again sad to leave but renewed and refreshed for the new church year of music! This was a year of many little moments that were quite special: the beauty of silence at night at the cottage, practicing uninterrupted for hours which resulted in learning Bach's Fantasy and Fugue in C Minor and discovering and learning the music of a composer I had not known before - Renè Becher, a day trip to explore Warsaw and dine at Silver Lake Restaurant, an exploratory "scavenger hunt" of yard sales in the area, hiking with my family at Letchworth Park, eating sweet corn every night, my 3-year-old son distributing hymnals in all of the empty pews throughout the chapel while I was practicing (maybe one day he'll be an usher!), playing the piano at the cottage and exploring the books of music there and Sadie, the cat. Truly, this is an experience my whole family cherishes and enjoys each year. We look forward to returning to this beautiful place and sincerely thank Tim, Helen and the Portageville Board that make all of this possible.
Robert Morehead family, Pittsburgh, PA
Guest Book Comments 2012
Once again the cottage and chapel have worked their magic. I leave refreshed and ready to face my new life in retirement after sitting on an organ bench every Sunday for 53 years. Strange that I should spend even more time on an organ bench, but this time it was for the pure enjoyment of playing music for myself! Thank you again to all who make this a real place of retreat and regrowth! Thom Robertson, Alexander, VA
What a wonderful place to spend a week. I want one more day, in fact. The chapel's instruments were great fun to play each day. It was exciting to practice a piece because I wanted to - not just because it needed to be ready for Sunday. The cottage has all one could ask for - even feline visitors. Hiking in Letchworth nearly every day was also good refreshment from the bench - several great hikes from Parade Ground. Even picked blueberries on 19A (North) toward Warsaw (Bells?) Abbey of the Genesee is always a good visit, though the music was not what I expected. Thank you to everyone who has made this place a reality. I hope to return. - Michael Salmon, Washington, DC
Portageville Chapel - we saw the advertisement in the AGO magazine a few years ago and knew this was a place we needed to visit. The piano and organ are wonderful instruments and have been played a lot this week as we planned our monthly piano/organ duets for church and our annual Christmas concert. The new KAWA1 was truly a great addition to your lovely cottage. Thank you for all your work and foresight in creating such a marvelous retreat! - Karen Balogh & Carolyn Miller, Cincinnati, OH
From the very first moments we were intoxicated by the immense possibilities for physical and spiritual "retreat"! A beautiful idea - a beautiful setting - and a beautiful refreshment. Congratulations to all those who have lavished such painstaking detail on both the restoration of the chapel and the comfortable and edifying ambiance of the cottage! I could hardly tear myself away from the old hymnals. I even thought that downtown Portageville was charming - what with the beautiful rooster wandering the street. The vocalization of the rooster was the only punctuation in a quiet place. Not enough can be said about the chapel experience. Thank you for making all of this available. Letchworth State Park was a giant bonus. We walked there every day. The waterfalls were as mesmerizing as the organ sounds in the chapel. My son and I are both church organists and we were somewhat competitive over the organ practice time! At nights, the three of us (my wife on the recorder) were an ensemble reading through hymns by the dozens with variations galore. Bravo! We certainly would like to return! - Brandy, Wendy and Raymond Hawkins, Eutawville, SC
Finally! A week to practice myself. The comments are true. This is a special place. The Bach Passacaglia & Fugue is now part of my life, only because I had 7 days of peace and quiet. Thank you to all. - Tim Smith, Executive Director of The Portageville Chapel
I am so grateful to have spent part of my sabbatical here. I was excited to come, and was not disappointed. In fact, I am a bit sad to leave. To have undisturbed practice time is heavenly. I loved using "Carlyle's Corner" during breaks, and am wondering how I can incorporate a reading corner into the chancel at home! I loved hiking in the park. The trails near the Parade Grounds (free entrance) are spectacular! I even fulfilled a life-long dream and went up in a hot air balloon. It was a splurge, but I am so glad I did it! What a brilliant vision - an organists' retreat! Thank you! I wish there were several across the country. The combination of focused work, quiet, rest, and physical activity was perfect. I hope to return. - Sarah Hawbecker, Atlanta, GA
The glorious sounds and the majestic sights: "How Great Thou Art"! How great it was having the chapel with both instruments to practice without interruption. Only with this week in Portageville, have I had the time to prepare my entire selection of concert pieces for my concert in November. Only with this quiet setting, have I been able to focus and prepare for the next season of concert series. To the Portageville Chapel members and all the dedication of those that created this awesome retreat, Thank you! Thank you! As a younger organist (six years in the business), I am happy to discover such a wonderful opportunity that I hope to enjoy every year! My artist friend joined me for the week and was able to focus and produce lots of preparation for print making when she returns home. Here is a skunk that will be made into a wood cut. We were able to finally enjoy a hike at Letchworth and the waterfalls. Truly the most amazing park I have ever been to. The inspiration from the experience has given me a new vision into, "But for the heights and depths words cannot reach. God gave ME music, the soul's own speech." All the best for the future! - Christine Couch & Lynette Spencer, Silver Spring, MD
Another wonderful week in Portageville! This is our 4th year at the chapel and once again we enjoyed music, rest, relaxation and fun. As always, our time in the chapel with the wonderful organ and piano was outstanding and we enjoyed reading, prayer and meditation in Carlyle's Corner. A new side trip took us to Rochester where we worshiped and spent time at Lake Ontario. Along with our dear friends from Columbus, OH we once again want to thank Tim Smith and the Portageville Board for making this wonderful retreat available. We look forward to many more years here. - Gary Raish & Bob Riday, Stroud Township, PA
P.S. The piano in the cottage is a wonderful new addition. Even though the pump organ was charming, the piano is much more useful. We didn't need to bring the keyboard to use in the cottage this year!
This is simply an addition to what Gary has offered above. The trip on the 19th to Christ Church in Rochester was special, seeing the historic rear organ and the pipes in preparation for the Hak and Hastings organ to go in the chancel. The Director of Music was most affable in taking time with us, explaining the installations and actually guiding us into the "innards" of the balcony instrument. On the 18th we ventured out to the annual city-wide garage sale and the Mt. Morris Italian Festival. Portageville once again inspired me to a new Christmas carol (with text) and the sketch of an anthem based on the carol to be used this Christmas in Columbus. What a great place! -
Al Adcock, Columbus, OH
Bucolic (corny) surroundings and lovingly restored chapel (complete with extremely live acoustic) and cozy and thoughtfully decorated cottage (complete with lively Kawai Klavier) and Sadie the friendly kitty and gorgeous gorges and Lorraine's pies = a truly sublime week. Went way too fast! Danke Schon! - Mike Rocht & Brian Jones, Boston, MA
A real privilege to spend a week in this corner of God's country. The church is a gem in every way, and the vision and generosity of concept shown by Tim, Barbara, Helen and the others responsible for the opportunity seized and shared is extraordinary. It is a joy to practice and experience both the chapel and the comfortable cottage, day in and day out. Lorraine's homemade pie in Castile, the astounding Letchworth park (what vision he had too!), Sadie the pussycat, and the fun exploring the region all combine to make this a week of renewal, rest, refreshment and musical growth and accomplishment. Thank you! - Brian Jones, Boston, MA
This being our 3rd year, I can only think of how refreshing and peaceful this place continues to be! In addition to enjoying Lorraine's homemade pies and the beautiful sights at Letchworth State Park, I continued with my goal of finishing pieces I've wanted to finish for years. This year I am happy to add Boellmann's Suite Gothique and BWV 541 to my list. There were more musical memories in the chapel this year than usual - hymn singing with friends on Sunday night, playing Scarlotti sonatas on the piano before moving to the organ and much needed time for rest and meditation.
The magic of the chapel space also managed to add more feeling to some organ works I was preparing for an upcoming recital - every night (almost!) I closed my practice with playing Wyton's arrangement of "Lotus" by Billy Streyhan. Just using the flutes and the strings I sometimes would play it so slowly because I did not want to leave. What an amazing acoustic - absolutely worth coming back to hear again and experience repeatedly! We look forward to returning again and thanks to Helen, Tim and the executive board all of us leave for home renewed and refreshed. Thank you for this blessing of The Portageville Chapel. Robert & Miranda Morehead, Pittsburg, PA
I have been wanting to come to The Portageville Chapel since it was first announced, and finally I did! It surpassed my expectations in many ways. I was able to practice concert and service music on organ and piano, work on teaching and vocalizing for adults and children, do some reading and listen to instructional DVD's. Often I go to conventions and seminars and am exposed to a lot of information. Here I was able to put some of it into practice. The musical, acoustical, spiritual, and geographic ambiance offer inspiration to work, practice, dream and muse! To Tim, Helen and Board members, as well as those behind the scenes: your vision and labor are extraordinary. Well done. Carry on! - Thomas Bohlert, East Hampton, NY
Guest Comments from the 2011 Season
Once again, the cottage and chapel welcomed us and we were again able to relax, practice, and recharge for another season. After a very long and stress-filled Eastertide, it was nice to be away from the stress. The chapel organ continues to be an instrument capable of playing almost anything, and the comfort of the cottage was perfect for evening relaxation on the patio.
Blessings on Tim and all the board for continuing to keep this dream alive!
Thom Robertson, Alexandria, VA
How fortunate we are to be able to retreat to a place like this. My second visit and just as awesome as the first. The chapel - the cottage - the park and falls - the gorgeous countryside; I am leaving here refreshed and inspired. Many thanks to all who work to make this possible.
Suzanne Horton, Baton Rouge, LA
Thanks so much for providing this incredible place to respite and retreat! The beauty of the chapel is inspiring in itself - and the ability to practice, plan, read and relax uninterrupted is a real gift. Blessing on all who have made this possible, and continued success as you offer this retreat for so many of us.
Peter DuBois, Rochester, NY
What a week! Peaceful and refreshing. I've never played so much in so little time - and it was all good. I enjoyed every minute in the chapel, the cottage, the park. My heart is glad and sad at the same time as I prepare to leave this morning. Thanks to everyone who has made this week possible for me. I can hardly wait to come back.
Cynthia Baxter, Westminster, MD
It has been a delight to return a second time! This year, I targeted finishing pieces I had wanted to finish for years and I can say I met my goals! I did arrive concerned thinking I may have forgotten many items, however everything I forgot you had. Thank you for being so thoughtful! One of the highlights this year was performing an ogan demonstration on Noah's Ark for the families. The children were taking it in, but it seemed that the adults were benefiting more. This year I also took some time to relax in the chapel and read and compose a bit. My wife and I also shared in a hymn sing. All in all, I can say it has again been a refreshing week for both families and we can't wait to come back! Thank you for making this possible!
Robert & Miranda Morehead; Christy, Eric, Abigail, Rachel Birch, Pittsburg, PA
Thank you for providing such a restful and relaxing retreat! The cottage has everthing I could have ever needed ... even air conditioning (it was a hot week. It got to 100 degrees one day!). I love all the antiques and old photographs on the walls. The chapel is wonderful, such nice acoustics. Both instruments were actually in tune, which was amazing considering the heat. I loved the rocking chair and books in the corner to relax and take a break. Letchworth State Park was beautiful. Everything came together to create a wonderful place. Thank you!
Kevin McGill, Bowling Green, OH
The idea for this marvelous place was just the beginning - you have made certain that those fortunate to spend a week of retreat here have every little comfort. It is certainly wonderful to practice on such an enjoyable instrument, but Carlyle's Corner is also delightful with interesting reading material. I thoroughly enjoyed this week and all the opportunities for growth, both at the organ and in visiting the surrounding countryside.
Stephen G. Schaeffer, Birmingham, AL
I loved every moment of being here, and am grateful to all who have made this place possible.
Jim Garvey, Knoxville, TN
Thank you to all who made possible such a wonderful few days of organ practice and relaxation. It was a treat being able to learn new repertoire in such a peaceful and affirming environment. I particularly appreciated such attention to detail, for example, the metronome and pencils on the console, as well as Carlyle Corner. I also enjoyed the company of an affectionate grey cat, who sat with me on the porch at around 7 pm most evenings!
Jamie Hitel, Greenwich, CT
This is our third year in Portageville. As always, it was a wonderful week of music, rest, relaxation and sightseeing spent with our dear friends, Cindy and Al from Columbus, OH. Portageville always provides just "what the doctor ordered" - peace, quiet, meditation, music - which I so much needed this year. We are now ready to return to the "real world" and start a new season of church music. Thank you again for providing this most unique retreat for church musicians in the little village of Portageville.
Gary Raish, Tannersville, PA
Tied to the above paragraph, Cindy and I had a wonderful third year. She spent much time to rehearse difficult music for piano and euphonium. I was inspired to once again sketch out a new composition. We continue to venture further into the adjacent towns and countryside and, of course, spend time at our favorite spots in Letchworth State Park. This place continues to be a blessing in our lives. Thanks to the Creator for this beautiful land and for the board of The Portageville Chapel for their initiative in selecting this place for us to enjoy.
Al and Cindy Adcock, Columbus, OH
This was our third consecutive annual week at the Chapel. It continues to be a source of peace, retreat and inspiration. This first year was filled with feeling of "new kid on the block", getting used to and familiar with this place. Last summer, our second year, was spent preparing to record a piano/vocal album of standards and torch songs at the chapel. The wonderful Knabe grand paired with the terrific chapel acoustics made for an intense but rewarding week of recording.
This year, I spent some time at the chapel but was drawn to Letchworth for spiritual renewal from a different bench: my bicycle seat! To our friends (known and unknown) who visit the P'ville chapel:Enjoy the chapel, the organ (don't forget the piano!) and make sure you get out and look around! Western New York is BEAUTIFUL! And Letchworth is a GEM!
Bob Riday, Stroud Township, PA
My sister from Cleveland, OH and I, from Ocean City, NJ, come here because we thought we were better musicians 45 years ago than we are today. This week has helped us catch up a little, though I think Carnegie Hall will still have to wait a bit!
As everyone has said, the house is charming and the surrounds, particularly Letchworth State Park, are astoundingly beautiful. The chapel acoustics are great. If we could have had just one wish, it would have been for a piano in the house, so that the one not playing at the chapel could practice here (the pump organ is pretty, but less than effective on Bethoven Sonatas!) * Note: In 2012, we replaced the pump organ with a fine rehearsal piano so that guests can practice at the house or at the chapel.
We could have used a good map of the area but did find a charming town about an hour away. Pittsford has a lovely park where you can walk by the Erie Canal and shop at a collection of stores, some quite unique. We ate at Aladdin"s and had a fresh, delicious meal on the outside patio overlooking the canal.
Jeanne Blochwelder, Ocean City, NY, Lucille Parsier, Westlake, OH
Thank you for your vision and dedication that has brought this wonderful place into being. So many thoughtful choices have been made that I never doubted I would find whatever it was I needed at the moment - from sharp pencils to flower vases, candles and bandaides! I have long enjoyed taking quiet retreats every year to retreat houses and monasteries. This place with its proximity to Letchworth and lovely chapel to practice in with lovely instruments has gone to the top of the list!
Sue Ellen Echard, Lansdale, PA
Reflecting on the week at the chapel - beautiful pipe organ, unbelievable acoustics, neat windows with old glass, trees and flowers all around, grand piano!! Who couldn't forget the noise of the city and practice, practice. The cottage was so restful and quiet. The park, countryside, small towns show God's handiwork. There is no getting bored here! What a wonderful idea for organists. Thanks for all your hard work. Hope we can return.
Sharon and David Leyerle, Houston, Texas
A mountaintop experience. The pipe organ is thrilling! Beautiful cottage, nice place to reflect and read. Awesome experience. Thank you so much for the opportunity to come!
Shirley Ruth French, Erie, PA
Guest Comments from the 2010 Season
The trumpets have arrived in time for spring. Newly placed in the chapel, they are singing beautifully! This is our first spring visit to Portageville and lovely to see all the new flowers popping up everywhere. The heavy rains last week have given the Letchworth falls a spectacular show: the mist greets you from the parking lot. Tonight is dinner at the Glen Iris Inn and home in the early A.M. Thank you! - Barbara and Michael Herzog, Columbus
Thank you for a wonderful few days of music, singing and food. A beautiful place for relaxation. - Christine Bloom, Cape Cod, MA
How can you write words to describe the magic of this place? Having access to an organ without interruption and the peace of the cottage is cheaper than therapy and twice as effective! The beauty of the park - in all kinds of weather - also serves to revive both body and soul. Friends joined me for the weekend, and we were able to really enjoy all the cottage offers. All the information and suggestions in the notebook proved very helpful, and between concentrated practice sessions we explored the area. Thanks go to Tim, Helen, and all the chapel board for having the vision and will to create this gift to musicians! - Thom Robertson, Alexandria, Virginia
Whether you come for a day or a week, the peace and tranquility affords you such a rest from the rigors of your regular routine that you know that you will, someday, return. What a joy to have undisturbed, uninterrupted practice time on the organ. The atmosphere of the cottage is cozy, comfortable and welcoming. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to experience this wonderful place. - Suzanne and Jim Horton, Baton Rouge, LA
My husband and I traveled here not knowing what to expect. We were simply hoping to find peace and quiet in which to concentrate on our music. Upon arrival, we were completely won over by the charm of this lovely cottage. How very relaxing and cozy it is! We could not wait to begin and immediately went down to the chapel. The instruments are superb! We laughed at ourselves as we each vied for more time on our respective instruments. The rich tones of the piano as well as the live acoustics combined to make my practice time a real joy. My husband also thoroughly enjoyed the pipe organ - what a treat! And I appreciated the comfy corner set up for reading so that I could listen to him practice. We were surprised again and again by all the thoughtful details that were put in place here. Thank you for putting this vision into reality! - Robert Edwards and Jennifer Kauffmann, Martinsburg, WV
The chapel provided me with practice and inspiration while the park was a very different place of experiencing the grandeur of nature. We are grateful for the opportunity and hope to have it on another occasion. - Richard Bumburg, Boston, MA and Matthew Perry, Spencer, MA
Thank you for providing this quiet repose for creativity and inspiration. It has been a wonderful week - much "wood" shedding" has been accomplished. Now I am well ahead musically and can concentrate on non-musical aspects of my ministry for a while - very important. May the handiwork you have created here prosper among many for years to come. - Michael Grabe, Dallas, TX
Another great week of rehearsing, relaxing, reading and resting! Come to South Carolina and play the Gabriel Kneg organ at FPC Cheraw! - Barbara Dickson, Cheraw, SC
Thank you for such a wonderful productive week. It was such a pleasure (and luxury) to have so much time and opportunity to prepare for the fall and winter. As a new organist, this gave me a rare gift to advance towards my goal of being a good organist. I will be back! - Lori Murray, Bloomington, MN
Thanks so much for providing this wonderful opportunity to rest and to recharge the batteries. Once again, our whole family enjoyed the piano and organ practice and the serenity of the chapel. To be surrounded by such beauty is refreshing, and this year, watching the birds in the garden as they fed their young was fascinating! We are already looking forward to next year! - Pinkerton family, Pittsburgh, PA
I came to Portageville with six girlfriends for our annual travel adventure. Since I celebrated my 50th birthday this summer, I was granted the privilege of choosing our destination. Having read about the chapel in American Organist Magazine, I suspected that it would be the perfect spot: a quiet and private setting in which to play just for the joy of it; to re-connect with the instrument I have largely ignored for the past year; and to remember why it is that I play. My friends knew very little about pipe organs and most had never heard me play (as I am relatively new to the instrument). Nearby towns have more than satisfied my girlfriends' shopping needs, and the natural beauty of the park was greatly appreciated. We loved the patio garden and the neighbor's cat! All in all, a refreshing and renewing week. - Kathy Elich, Blacksburg, VA
What a wonderfully equipped, charming, relaxing place. The organ is beautiful. The acoustics in the chapel are fabulous. The flute and piano and flute and organ pieces we did sounded heavenly. I think our singing sounded great too! We enjoyed hiking in Letchworth, visiting local towns and restaurant, and the frozen custard at Keith's is a must! We all had a relaxing week. Hope to come back some day. - Averall Tinker, Lebanon, NH, Sal, St. Ignace, MI, and Mary, Elyria, OH
This was our second stay at Portageville Chapel. and another wonderful week it was indeed! This year we discovered the Citgo gas station's delicious ice cream and also the good food at Letchworth Pines. and even a few games of bowling! The main focus was to do a vocal and piano recording which was very successful in the chapel's wonderful acoustics. As usual, the organ was in perfect condition and we got some much needed practice time and pleasure time on both instruments. The cottage, Letchworth State Park and surrounding villages provided sightseeing, recreation and much needed rest and relaxation amongst friends. We are looking forward to returning next year.
- Gary Raish, Tannersville, PA
Too often those who dare to dream allow practicality, or small mindedness, or cautious, well meaning people to prohibit or discourage a grand creative idea. I am grateful that those who dared to dream The Portageville Chapel did not waver from that dream - which is now a marvelous reality! The retreat from our everyday demands is a mandate for those of us who continually give through our gifts of music. Portageville encourages us to rest in the beauty of nature, and to refresh our souls at the organ or piano keyboards; or to simply absorb the spiritual ambience of the chapel itself. Thank you for following through with that initial dream, and for opening the opportunity to share it with us. I am profoundly grateful. Cindy Adcock, Columbus, OH
A perspective from "the other bench": Thank you for providing a piano with such spirit and soul. The chapel presents itself as being centered around the organ as perhaps it should. The grand old 1915 Knabe allowed and encouraged me to find spirit and soul within myself and my playing that I have been searching for. Thank you for providing a magnificent organ AND a piano that invites one to become a part of it. - Bob Riday, Tannersville, PA
In addition to all of the other marvelous attributes of this experience, and despite my being a grandfather myself, coming here to the cottage seems like making a trip to "grammi's" house in the summer. - Al Adcock, Columbus, OH
Second time around! Last year we came by car and could bring some of our food and a case of music. This year we flew to Buffalo, rented a car, drove to Cooperstown where we participated in an Elderhostel at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival. We saw four operas in three days: Tosca (Puccini), Tolomeo (Handel) The Tender Land (Copeland) and The Marriage of Figaro (Mozart). The speakers were outstanding and really enlightened us regarding opera. We then visited Watkins Glen on our way to Portageville. We walked 1 ½ miles in the Gorge and climbed 800+ steps. We saw 19 waterfalls. We enjoyed so much the cottage, the chapel (organ and piano) and the park. We are grateful for Tim's vision and all who have supported him in providing this wonderful organist's retreat. We like the quotation on one of the cottage's walls: "Make time for the quiet moments as God whispers and the world is loud." - Doug and Lois Potter, Albertville, MN
Another lovely week and about ten new preludes/postludes to play! The quiet and solitude of the first four days were as pleasant and restorative as were the next three graced by the company of Tim and Helen. Thank you for another productive week and the chance to show myself what I can accomplish when circumstances are ideal! - Andrew Gordon, Boston, MA
This was a wonderful week of refreshment! Thank you for this opportunity! Having a chance to recharge spiritually and relax and practice all at the same time was a winning formula! I particularly enjoyed the "silence" of the chapel and the uninterrupted practice time. I discovered I can learn a piece in 1/3 of the time it would take normally. It was also musically exciting to experience the Baroque counterpoint in the chapel - what an amazing sound! Thank you for keeping the instruments in condition and thinking of practically everything we needed in the cottage! We appreciate your kindness! The week, in addition to practicing, was even better as we shared moments with friends and took advantage of Letchworth State Park and all the beauty it beholds. We look forward to returning again. - Robert and Mirenda Morehead, Pittsburgh, PA
Guest Comments from the 2009 Season
"My heart is full of joy from this very special week spent in this cozy home, the beautiful chapel,
the breathtaking gorge, and the surrounding countryside. Thank you for all you have done to make this such a paradise for church musicians. I loved looking through all the old hymn and anthem
books, Sunday school publications, etc. The acoustics of the chapel were a delightful surprise. I am quite unable to express the richness of the inspiration that has overcome me this week. Bless you
all for what you have done! Gratefully," - D.B., Philadelphia PA
"The most productive week I've had in I don't know how long! What a terrific opportunity to learn new pieces, finish old ones and get a big push on a program coming up in October. Using that
beautiful room made the hours fly by and I can't wait to come back. Thanks so much for making
such a thing possible!" - A. G., Redding CT
"We had a wonderful time in both the Chapel and the park. Congratulations on a great project.
All the best to you in the future!" - J. K., Aurora, OH
"What a peaceful and refreshing week. It has been years since I had the opportunity for such uninterrupted time with the piano and the organ. Thank you for the vision that saw the potential
and for all the efforts that made the vision a reality. With three organists in our family, it was a
most remarkable week!" - R. P., Pittsburgh, PA
"What a blessing! Thank you for this wonderful week of practice for my husband and relaxation for
me. The chapel is beautiful and was a perfect spot for Steve to learn new pieces. The seating area
was a nice touch, so great to listen and read in a cozy little nook. The cottage was very welcoming
and homey. We loved playing Scrabble and Quiddler each night. Thank you for doing this!" - B.S., Palmetto, FL
"What a wonderful place! I've practiced more in the last week than I have in years. Also had a
superb time with my family in the park. Thank you so much to the Smiths and everyone who
made this possible. What a blessing!" - T.S., Royal Oak, MI
"Thank you to the Smith family and Board for a marvelous idea for organists to have a retreat.
Thank you for all the work it took to restore the chapel, repair and decorate the cottage and
plant the flowers. Your work gave four adults a productive and restful week. I hope we get to
return." - B.D., Cheraw, SC
"What a re-'treat' ... a week of rest, relaxation and wonderful music among great special friends in the quaint village of Portageville, NY. We came here with no expectations and were overwhelmed with the magnificent Schantz organ, the Knabe grand piano, and wonderful acoustics
in the beautiful and simple confines of the Portageville Chapel. We certainly expect to return to Portageville and hope that other musicians get to enjoy the same wonderful experience for many years to come!" - G.R., B.R., Tannersville, PA - A.A.,C.A., Columbus, Ohio
"What a wonderful time, place and experience. A big thank you to all involved in the
Portageville Chapel project. Enjoyed selecting new music for the coming year. The cottage
is so homey and very well stocked with the necessities and more! The falls and gorge are
spectacular in their beauty. Thanks again to the responsible committee and best wishes to all
who take advantage of this opportunity." - D. P., Albertville, MN
"Wow! What a great few days of practice and relaxation. Thanks to all who make this place possible. It was such a blessing to be able to spend time - quality time - with the music." - P. G., Bloomfield, NY
"We had a great week here, both with the organ and the surrounding area. The organ
and chapel acoustics complement each other wonderfully. It was cold (40s and 50s) and rainy for
most of the week, but still managed to see some of the area. Letchworth and, a little farther away, Watkins Glen, are amazing. Overall, a great time, setting and implementation." - J.L., Ellicott City MD