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I did battle with Dupre Symphonie-Passion 1st movement this week, and I’m pretty sure Dupre won. But what a gift to practice, practice, practice in such a gorgeous setting, quit for a while, walk the hill back, nap, eat, go for a stunning, surreal waterfall hike, and go back for more! My second time here, and it has swiftly become a home away from home – even a musical paradise.

PS. The white rabbit escapees are a joy to track each day! The owner came with a net one day but failed to collect them. They love this cottage!

SJ – Hartford, CT

This week has changed my life! The pandemic years changed many of my duties and many of the new items didn’t go away after we reopened. My practice time has virtually disappeared. Many weeks my first attempt at the hymns is the first liturgy of the weekend. This week has allowed me to escape all responsibilities except practice. I have learned that my 60-year-old brain doesn’t absorb things as quickly as it used to, but with concentrated practice time, it can! My vacation companions, Vierne, Frank, Buxtehude, and Zipoli have given me a week of challenge and great satisfactions. Thank you for this great opportunity! I hope to return to Portageville soon.

JB – Laurenceville, GA

It was so great to be back after a two-year pandemic break. It’s so amazing what you can accomplish here once you get into a consistent practice regimen. And then…. Once you’ve had enough, you can drive over to the park, get recharged and inspired, and come back and practice more!

On my 8th visit I kept discovering new things – the Trout Pond and trails around it, the long country road at the Parade Grounds, and the huge breakfast omelets at the Glen Iris.

I recommend dining local – the Pines is great and very friendly, Lower Fals restaurant is open all day, and there is a bakery next door to the cottage.

And…. If you read back a few pages, there were two rabbits on the loose in the neighborhood. I think they’ve been caught, but it was a surprise to find one under the porch by the back door last Wednesday. Until next time….

JJ – Lincolnwood, IL

Portageville Chapel has been on my bucket list ever since I first heard about it. This was mostly a working vacation to get caught up on music planning at my three churches (yes, you read that right. I’m the organist at three churches). One church is Saturday, the other two are Sunday.

I didn’t imagine that there would be two 19th century pianos at the museum in Letchworth. Check them out. Besides the beauty of Letchworth, it is humbling to think of the millions of years it took for the waterfalls and canyon to form. For worship on Sunday, I went to Trinity Church in Nunda. It has a 19th century organ and beautiful stained windows. Very friendly parish.

Don’t let the appearance of the piano at the Chapel fool you. It plays very well. I first learned organ on a Schantz, so it was a treat to be able to play on one again. I will definitely make plans in the future to come back.

EK – Syracuse, NY

Great to be back to enjoy Portageville and enjoy Perry’s ice cream at the Citgo Station. Had an afternoon trip to Seneca Falls, the Seward House in Auburn, and Ithica. Thanks to Helen and Tim for making this place of regeneration possible!

JD – Cincinnati, OH

It was a fantastic week this second week of July, in every way. It’s a privilege to get to be here and experience so much beauty.

JG – Knoxville, TN

This is my second time at Portageville Chapel. I came five years ago and brought my son. We’re from San Antonio, TX and we enjoyed the long road trip! This time a friend came along and stayed at the Brick Inn in Mount Morris. We explored the park and some nearby small towns. Sunday lunch at the Glen Iris Inn was delightful.

I love being able to “woodshed” and learn some notes for new Christmas music. In some cases I was able to bring some older pieces back to life, including the Guilmont Sonata #1 and the Mulet “Tu es Petra”.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to have a working vacation – we hope to be back!

SS – San Antonio, TX

Had the best first time here! Love spending time in nature and reconnecting with my instrument. I hope to return! Every best wish,


It is difficult to find the right words to adequately describe what this past week has meant to us. The opportunity for such intense practice time, free from the distraction of rehearsals, meeting, etc. is something we have not experienced in many years. As we are both organists, it worked out perfectly to have one of us practicing in the chapel while the other was home working on various musical skills in this beautiful, quaint cottage. The location is fantastic, and we enjoyed spending some time at Letchworth State Park and experiencing all of the beautiful surroundings.

Thank you, Helen and Tim, for being such wonderful hosts and for your vision in creating this exquisite retreat! We can’t wait to return next year. Blessings,

SM &CM – Houston, TX

This is our fourth time here and we hope to be back. This year, my trip was subsidized by a sabbatical grant from PCUSA. It was a time for prayer, devotions, practice, wonder, rest, and play! We took our annual bike ride on the Erie Canal, had a delicious dinner at the Glen Iris Inn and visited, for the first time, the Strong Museum of Play. What a wonderful place to revisit your inner child!

We are grateful for this unique retreat center and appreciate all that it takes to make this available. Peace and blessings,

DT&MT – Farmington, NJ

Another incredible week!!! Thank You!

PD – Rochester, NY

Thank you for making this beautiful opportunity for rest and retreat! Focusing on my craft amid the beauty and serenity of this area was life-giving and restorative, and the disconnection from technology was surely needed after two years of pandemic-era church music.

This week I accomplished a longtime goal of finishing Bach’s Trio Sonatas. The freedom from distraction the Portageville Chapel offers enabled me to focus in a way daily life in the city prohibits. Taking breaks at Letchworth and in the nearby towns brought renewed intention to each practice session.

Thank you for making this opportunity available to our profession!

SB&KV – Chicago, IL

Another productive and restorative week is in the books! PC is a gift!

JJ – Black Mountain, NC

What a truly wonderful experience this week has been. When traveling to the chapel for the week, the hymn “Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven” was on my heart – particularly the line, “ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven”. Thank you for this opportunity to be “healed and restored” in making music in such a lovely and unique setting! Looking forward to returning next year!

JR – Winter Haven, Florida

Kudos to all who have worked to make this retreat possible. I have had a great time making use of all three instruments. I could play that flute on the Great for days at a time and never tire of its lovely sound. The park offered great hiking and gorgeous vistas. Dinner at the Glen Iris was a true treat. I depart with sadness.

RE – Elizabethtown, PA

What a joy it has been to be in this special place for the week, especially as the rich autumnal colors start to appear on the trees. With the help of fingerless gloves and lots of warm tea, my practice  in the chapel was productive and rewarding: Bach Passacaglia, Sinfonia from Cantata 29, plus a few other projects on both organ and piano. The cottage was sweet and comfortable and my visit to Letchworth was refreshing. Many thanks to all for providing this retreat, and I hope to be back!

KK – Norfolk, VA

Guest Comments 2022 Season

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