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Guest 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

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