|C. Anthony Pessarra
14703 Sugarplum Ln., Houston, TX 77062
Ph: 281-488-2055 Fax: +1(281)249-5366
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|CHRONOLOGICAL BACKGROUND SNAPSHOT
|The Pessarra linage exists for over 900 years in Europe, and in Texas for over 150 years. Anthony
was inspired from an early age by music and family members with musical talents. There were
many examples including kapellmeisters and organists as well as fiddle players, folk and country
singers, accountants, adventurers, soldiers and even
a Foreign Legion warrior and corporate lawyers .
Early musical studies started at age 3 1/2. Recognizing a prodigious talent at 5, he was accepted
as a student by Ethel Clark, a Julliard trained pianist and organist, and at age 9 began playing for
local churches. As organist for St. Paul's Episcopal church in Freeport, he was immersed in the
Merbeck liturgy and plain chant. Concurrently serving as organist at First Presbyterian Church, it
was common that he ran three blocks from St. Paul to First Presbyterian for the 11: 15 service.
These early years of church playing provided contact with the great music of the church including
Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Brahms, et al. Additionally, through association with music directors in
church and school settings, he became familiar with many fine examples of choral and solo
literature from Palestrina to contemporary. From this individual attention and direction there
developed a solid musical and technical foundation of practice habits approaching 4 hours daily
setting musical and performance standards that remain to this day.
He was fortunate at this age to be encouraged by Fr. Stanley Wilson, an Episcopal priest, to attend
church music seminars at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, where he associated with many
outstanding musicians of national stature. This early exposure contributed significantly to the
introduction to and appreciation of the high professional standards that would serve as models for
his own dedication to excellence.
In addition to organ studies, several hours each day were devoted to piano practice and quickly
lead to opportunities as an accompanist for many different community musical events. At 14, he
was exposed to performances of Prof. Michael Schneider playing J. S. Bach on the St.-Johannis-
Kirche organ in Luneberg, Germany. Three of these works, the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C
major, Toccata in F major, and the famous D minor Toccata and Fugue, particularly inspired and
motivated study and practice despite his music instructor's concern about their level of difficulty. The
audition performance of these three pieces eventually led directly
to the award of a full four year music scholarship.
For variety and fun during the teen years, he also played piano and guitar in a rock band, a jazz
ensemble and played various popular music styles and venues of the day including "battle of the
bands", proms, dances, weddings, parties, etc.- again, over the occasional
criticism and raised eyebrows of his music teacher!
The unavoidable approach of graduation forced considerations of the future options. In the senior
year he ceased lessons in piano and organ for about six months (for what was a well deserved rest
from formal training). However, he continued to play professionally for various churches and events
as well as maintaining a daily four hour practice schedule. After this hiatus and time to consider all
the available careers the decision was made to pursue a career in piano and organ performance.
That pursuit is an ongoing story and a never ending quest…..
EDUCATION AND CHRONOLOGICAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
1946 Piano and organ lessons- Ethel Clark (Julliard).
1949 Organist, Fjrst Presbyterian and St. Pauls Episcopal Churches (weddings, funerals).
1954 Accompanist acappella choir, intermediate school/high school and UIL.
1955 Seminars at Seminary of the Southwest, Austin - first performance of Handle Messiah, Bach's
ltalian Concerto and the Brahms German Requiem.
1959 Piano and theory studies with Dr. William Decker (Eastman School) at Wharton Jr. College -
acappella choir accompanist.
1961 B.Mus. & M.Mus. studies and performance coaching Sam Houston University - Double majors
english lit and philosoply. Dr. Harry Mallard, Dr. John Paul, Dr. Robert Floyd, Dr. Page C. Long, Dr.
William Decker- organ/piano. Accompanist acappella choIr & grand chorus - first performance
Handel organ concerti with orchestra, R. Vaughn WIlliams Hodie,
vocal and instrumental accompaniments.
Premier performance of organ works by Vincent Persichetti for the composer 1965 Recipient of the
Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Outstanding Musicianship Award for six undergraduate organ recitals and
three graduate level recitals.
1966 Organ study with Dr. Hans Dietz and Freida Deicow, UT Austin; Organist for Hyde Park Baptist
Church. Apprentice piano rebuilder with George Whitby Restorations
1969 Organist St. Philip Presbyterian Houston. Post Graduate Organ study with Dr. Robert Jones at
the University of Houston. Planned "Programs for the Young" series demonstrating the versatility of
the organ with discussion of organ construction, history and pipe sound characteristics
1971 Organist, First Presbyterian Church, Galveston. Opened Pessarra Keyboard Arts - piano
service and restoration. Apprentice with WIlliam Butler, organ builder. Chairman, Music Dept.
Brazosport Community College. Recitals, accompaniment and other
performance events during this period
1974 Organist, First Methodist Church, Lake Jackson, TX . Purchased Rogers 925 3 manual 70
stop touring organ. Performances of the Major works of J.S. Bach in standard format and with
accompanying light shows. Accompanist for East Texas Chorale Christmas programs '74-'77.
Organist at First Presbyterian Church, Galveston for a short period because of auto accident.
1980 Completed Police training classes for Brazoria County Sheriffs Dept.
Reserve Officer Certification.
1981 (Extended vacation) Organist, Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Thomas, USVI. Captain of
sailing charter yacht. Instructor in English honors classes at All Saints Cathedral School, USVI.
1985 Organist, First Presbyterian Church, Freeport TX. Owner, Keyboard Arts Piano Restoration
including dealer for Baldwin and Kawai pianos. Organ enlargement project mgr.
1991 Organist/Choirmaster, First Lutheran Church, Shreveport, LA. Produced festivals,
recitals and programs
1993 Organist and Music Coordinator for the annual tri-state Lutheran convention,
St. Marks Episcopal Cathedral, Shreveport, LA
1994 Organist, First Presbyterian Church, Freeport, TX. Family gifts. Operated Keyboard Arts - piano
tuning, restoration, consultation. Solo events, accompaniment for UIL and substitute or interim
organist for several other area churches.
ACTIVITIES 1998 FORWARD
1998 Organist, St. Matthew Lutheran Houston. Organist/Choirmaster, New organ project mgr. New
Carillon bell system project mgr. Produced many weddings, wedding policies, internet websites,
customary, seasonal concerts, Lenten concerts, pre-Christmas concerts and musical events. Guest
artist programs. Recordings of many works for organ, voice, instruments. Continued association
with Houston Chapter of The American Guild of Organists….produced The Pipeline Newsletter,
produced A.G.O. Website.
2003 to current date: Established KeyArts Piano of Houston. Residence in Clear Lake; Mfg.
Custom Organ Mirrors. Many recitals, one of which was at Westminster Methodist, Houston.
Vocal/Organ Music of the Christmas season. Weddings, seasonal music presentations. He is
also accompanist for The John McGhee Christmas "Messiah" presentation in Brazosport presented
every other year.
He was organist at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Houston. His many activities included projects
for a bell tower carillon and organ project to enlarge the current instrument to over 100 ranks and 4
manuals. He and his wife Kathy, specialized in creating and producing elegant weddings at St.
Matthew where definitive musical offerings were presented with musical forces ranging from organ
alone, professional soloists from Houston, orchestras and boy choirs. Many musically and
socially high profile weddings were performed over a 7 year period with in excess of 35,000 guests
passing through the church doors. Numerous concerts and pre-nuptial recitals during this period.
Mr. Pessarra also instructs organists in the use and operations of Allen and other classical makes
of digital church organs. Mr. Pessarra also personally designs and builds custom organ mirrors for
organists throughout the U.S.A. His interest extends beyond the organ and piano to astronomy,
photography, nutritional medicine and computer technology and graphics.
In addition to organ studies, Anthony was fortunate to be associated with some of the foremost
writers and teachers on the subjects of religious and philosophical thought. He has an ongoing
interest in the philosophy of religion re mentors: Profs. Hartshorne and Whitehead, Kading,
Ginanscol and Santayana at UT Austin. Anthony and Kathy reside in the Clear Lake area of
Houston, Texas. Mr. Pessarra is available for dedications, organ/piano consultation, instruction,
services and weddings.
KeyArts Piano of Houston is owned and operated by Anthony in the Clear Lake area and sells
Yamaha, Kawai, Hardman-Peck, Perzina and other pianos. Anthony has served as publicity, web
and newsletter editor for The American Guild of Organists, Houston Chapter. Anthony is involved in
the representation of used classic organs both electronic and pipe.
See: Organs Houston
MOST RECENT POSITIONS 2007+, Overview
This church has an excellent performance venue in the culturally active and diverse Museum District
on South Main Street amidst a group of historic churches noted for their public musical offerings
and excellence in service music. An appearance as dedication recitalist was made by Carlo Curley,
arranged and promoted by Anthony. St. Matthew was selected for the 2005 closing service by the A.
G.O. Houston Chapter. Many of Houston's finest vocal and instrumental musicians have performed
at St. Matt including Dr. Daniel Shipman, trumpet, Leigh Shipman, soprano and international
personalities such as Melanie Holliday.
Alas, the church also deconstructed the efforts already flourishing in promoting a growing presence
of St. Matthew across the Houston area as a nexus of musical offerings to the musical community at
large. In addition they preferred to cover the new organ console behind a blank wall which in one
stroke made public performance and master classes untenable. Anthony’s detailed artistic
submissions for elegant console railings were discarded in favor of this wall.
See: Artist Railings and The Outcome .
During Anthony's tenure there, this church has enjoyed a renewed flourishing musical presence in
the city in the years of 1998 to 2004. He provides an alternate list of wedding venues for couples
who are non-members since St. Matthew no longer accepts these wedding requests due to a
pastoral change. For Houston organ concert listings please refer to American Guild of Organists.
Anthony terminated his association with St. Matthew in 2010 due to change in leadership, lack of
funds and little interest in continuing musical outreach.
2008 Anthony functions best in a supportive, interactive collegial atmosphere of creativity and
musical challenges. Activities and interests include but are not limited to: Concert series
promotion & production; an aggressive Wedding outreach to the Christian community; recital series;
organ & piano instruction; music outreach programs such as "Concerts with a Cause"; solo vocal,
instrumental programs for public as well as worship service offerings. Promotional emphasis of
music, Internet presence and communications emphasizing music programs, wedding venue and
support for events is necessary for a full realization of potential.
SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS
Emphasis is placed on the following:
1. Performance & improvisation ability
2. Solid social and interactive abilities
3. A wide range of organizational and office skills
4. Service playing and innovation
6. Integrity in business-High ethics in relationships
7. Knowledge of organs/technologies and pianos.
2013: SUMMARY OF PURPOSE
While musical activities and innovation have been many and varied in the prior position, the need
and desire for a broader context of musical endeavor comes to the surface and is pointing toward a
more comprehensive utilization of skills and abilities in 2010 - 12.
For the recent period of 15 years, he has served as organist/music director, and one year interim at
First Presbyterian Galveston in 2012. Plans for the future include additional performance
opportunities, teaching, service innovation and professional activities related to the Christian and
greater Houston musical community.
Anthony continues to provide substitute services, interim organist availability plus choral skills for
churches in the Houston Metro and surrounds.
Anthony continues to provide substitute services, interim organist availability plus choral skills for
churches in the Houston Metro and surrounds. See: Current calendar at: Organist
IN RETROSPECT - 2013
In 2012, November, he was asked to fill the position of organist at the First Presbyterian Church of
Galveston. This turned into an interim position sometime midway in 2013 because of
the lack of a sufficient organ for performance of the works for organ and service music as well.
A change of mind by the organ committee led into a project of rebuilding the old Hook and Hastings
organ of 117 years of age which was destroyed by hurricane Ike. In previous months there
was a positive interest in adding a five manual digital organ and incorporating
the best pipe-work from the Hook organ.
On January 31, 2013, both the church and Anthony agreed that this was not the position for him.
He was faced with an organ of very low capability and a committee that did not want to have the
notability of an full fledged concert instrument. In addition the time line would be in years and there
was no potential in staying. However, the time was spent well in creating and writing several
documents including a wedding customary, various forms for weddings and music plus a wealth of
analysis concerning pipe/digital organs with the beginnings of publicity for the concert organ.
Alas that was not to be.
As of May 1, 2013 Anthony is available as substitute, interim or a creative position as
organist/pianist. Contact: 281.488.2055 - KeyArts@att.net
With Warmest Regards & Thanks for visiting.
C. Anthony Pessarra
C. Anthony Pessarra Comprehensive Resume Rev. 5.1.2013