|The Pessarra lineage 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
- Piano and organ lessons- Ethel Clark (Julliard).
- Organist, First Presbyterian and St. Paul's Episcopal Churches (weddings, funerals).
- Accompanist acappella choir, intermediate school/high school and UIL.
- Seminars at Seminary of the Southwest, Austin - first performance of Handle Messiah,
Bach's ltalian Concerto and the Brahms German Requiem.
- Piano and theory studies with Dr. William Decker (Eastman School) at Wharton Jr. College -
acappella choir accompanist.
vocal and instrumental accompaniments.
- 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,
- Premier performance of organ works by Vincent Persichetti for the composer. Recipient of
the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Outstanding Musicianship Award for six undergraduate organ
recitals and three graduate level recitals.
- Organ study with Dr. Hans Dietz and Freida Deicow, UT Austin; Organist for Hyde Park
Baptist Church. Apprentice piano rebuilder with George Whitby Restorations
- 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
performance events during this period
- 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
Organist at First Presbyterian Church, Galveston for a short period because of auto accident.
- 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.
Reserve Officer Certification.
- Completed Police training classes for Brazoria County Sheriffs Dept.
at All Saints Cathedral School, USVI.
- (Extended vacation) Organist, Evangelical Lutheran Church, St. Thomas, USVI. Captain of
sailing charter yacht. Instructor in English honors classes
- Organist, First Presbyterian Church, Freeport TX. Owner, Keyboard Arts Piano Restoration
including dealer for Baldwin and Kawai pianos. Organ enlargement project mgr.
recitals and programs
St. Marks Episcopal Cathedral, Shreveport, LA
- Organist and Music Coordinator for the annual tri-state Lutheran convention,
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
and computer technology and graphics.
- 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
- 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
- Bellaire UMC - Houston - 2014 - Organist / Accompanist
- St. Matthew 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.
See: Artist Railings and The Outcome .
- Alas, the church discontinued 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. This made it impossible to have public performance and
master classes. Detailed artistic submissions for elegant console railings were created.
- During Anthony's tenure there, this church enjoyed a renewed flourishing musical presence
in the city in the years of 1998 to 2004. He provided an alternate list of wedding venues for
couples who are members and non-members since St. Matthew no longer accepts these
wedding requests due to a pastoral change. Concert listings were referred to American
Guild of Organists and other venues. Anthony terminated his association with St. Matthew in
2010 due to change, lack of funds and little church interest in continuing musical outreach.
for a full realization of potential.
- 2008 Anthony functions best in a supportive, interactive 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
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.
8. Christian background - Presbyterian/Episcopal/Lutheran
2012: 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 this 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.
Continuing to provide substitute services, interim organist availability plus choral skills for churches
in the Houston Metro and surrounds.
See: Current calendar at: Organist
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 concert instrument and incorporating the best
pipe-work from the Hook organ. However, the time at First Presbyterian was spent well in creating
and writing several documents including a wedding customary, various forms for weddings and
music plus a wealth of current analysis concerning pipe/digital organs.
On January 31, 2013, Anthony accepted a position with Bellaire UMC.
979-292-8268 - KeyArts@att.net
With Warmest Regards & Thanks for visiting.
C. Anthony Pessarra
C. Anthony Pessarra Chronological Resume Rev. 5.4.2015
CLICKABLE LINKS ARE INCLUDED BUT MAY NOT FUNCTION ON SOME PRINTABLE DOCUMENTS
USE HOT LINKS BELOW FOR ALL INFORMATION:
1. Performance and Activities : www.keyartspianohouston.com/organist
2. TYPICAL AUDITION FOR CHURCH ORGANIST-ACCOMPANIST