Ascension Organ Academy in New York City

Console of the Manton organ

The next Ascension Organ Academy will take place in June 2015. Check back for future news

Five Days of Artistic Study for students and experienced performers

Faculty: Dennis Keene & Jon Gillock

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General Description

The Ascension Organ Academy is held at the Church of the Ascension, Fifth Avenue at Tenth Street, New York City, which is located in Greenwich Village and is easily accessible by public transportation.

The Academy offers a select number of participants (maximum 8) five days of personalized, artistic study in two daily masterclasses taught by Dennis Keene and Jon Gillock. All participants will take part in both classes. Auditors who do not perform are also welcome.

Each participant will arrive at the Academy prepared to perform 2 pieces to study during the Academy, one from each of the two repertory classes listed below. In the case of French baroque repertoire, where movements are often short (such as in a Mass or a Suite), this could include a group pieces. Each participant will perform every day in one of the two classes. Participants are expected to bring pieces that are prepared at a concert level.

The Academy is centered around the new organ just installed by Pascal Quoirin of Saint-Didier, France. It is the first significant French organ in the United States and is an instrument designed to play all repertoire from early baroque to contemporary. See description of organ and stoplist here.

Each participant will have practice time each day on the Quoirin organ to prepare for the classes. Morning and early afternoon will be devoted to practice. Classes will be held in the late afternoon and early evening. Practicing will begin on Monday morning, times to be arranged ahead of time by Email. (There may be additional practice times available for those who arrive early or live in the NYC area.) The first class will be Monday afternoon, at 2:00 pm, and the final class will be on Friday evening.


Dennis Keene's class: Suggested repertoire:

  • Bach: Request what piece you would like to play
  • Titelouze: Veni Creator or Exultet Coelum
  • Couperin: Convent Mass or Offertoire from Parish Mass
  • Marchand: Grand Dialogue in C or Premier Livre d'Orgue
  • Grigny: Récit de tierce en taille from Mass
  • Guilain: Suite du Premier ton
  • Duruflé: Prélude et Fugue sur le nom d'Alain; Prélude, Adagio et Choral varié sur le Veni Creator; Scherzo; Prélude from Suite, Op. 5
  • Tournemire: (transcribed Duruflé): Victimae paschali

Jon Gillock's class: French 19th and 20th century composers
Suggested repertoire:

  • César Franck: Any of the 12 major pieces
  • Louis Vierne: Any movement from Symphonies I, II and IV, and the Adagio from Symphonie III; and Clair de Lune and Impromptu
  • Olivier Messiaen: Any piece
  • Tournemire: Te Deum (transcribed Duruflé); Offertoire from L'Orgue Mystique III (Noel)
  • Brahms: Fugue in A-flat Minor

It is possible to request other repertoire.


Participants: $450
Auditors: $250 for the entire week or $75 per day

How to apply

1. Complete online application form.
2. Send recordings of two contrasting pieces of your own choosing. These do not have to be the pieces you want to study. (Participants of the 2011 - 2013 Academies do not need to send recordings.)

Applicants will be notified of their acceptance by Email. After being accepted, we will ask you to send the fee in order to reserve your place. When all places have been filled we will send you a complete repertoire list so that you may bring your scores to the Academy.

Auditors: may arrange their participation up to one week before the start of the Academy.  Download the Word.doc application form, print and complete it, and mail it with your check. Last minute auditors may call the office 212-254-8620 or email to inquire about availability.


Everyone is responsible for his/her own housing, which should be fairly easy to arrange through the internet. There is also a list of possible housing near the church which you can request.


Dennis Keene: Email or 212-254-8620

Jon Gillock: Email

Dennis Keene

Dennis Keene is today best known as one of the country's leading choral conductors – the founder and artistic director of Voices of Ascension. But he began his career as an organist. He received the BM, MM, and DMA degrees at the Juilliard School, and was the winner of the prestigious Gaston Dethier Prize for Excellence in Organ Playing. His teacher was Vernon de Tar. In the winter of 1977 he studied in Paris with Marie-Madeleine Duruflé, André Marchal, and André Isoir. He was active as an organ teacher for many years, and was on the Organ Faculties of the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard School.

Dennis Keene's association with the music of Duruflé is known internationally. In 1989 he mounted the first-ever complete retrospective of he music of Duruflé, and conducted the complete choral works to great critical acclaim. For many years he played the Duruflé organ works in recital repeatedly, and has taught them in countless masterclasses. Likewise, he has conducted and taught the choral works many times throughout the United States. Mme Duruflé referred to Dennis Keene as the "Perfect Interpreter of my husband's music." His friendship with Mme Duruflé lasted until her death in 1999. Dennis Keene is a member of the Comité International de Soutien of the Duruflé Association.

His strong interest in French Baroque music lead him to studies with André Isoir. And, while a doctoral candidate at Juilliard, he completed his dissertation, "Ornamentation in the organ music of Jehan Titelouze." He looks forward to playing and teaching all this literature on the new Quoirin organ at Ascension.

Dennis Keene is the Organist and Choirmaster of Church of the Ascension.

A further biography of Dennis Keene can be found here on this site.

Jon Gillock

Press and public alike acclaim American organist Jon Gillock for his sensitive and moving performances. He is especially fond of performing the "French spiritual repertoire". This includes music of such composers as François Couperin, Maurice Duruflé, Nicolas de Grigny, César Franck, Charles Tournemire, Louis Vierne, and, of course, Olivier Messiaen and Johann Sebastian Bach.

Jon Gillock earned the BM and MM degrees at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and the DMA at The Juilliard School in New York City. He also studied with Olivier Messiaen at the Paris Conservatory.

A friend of Messiaen and one of his preferred interpreters, Gillock gave premieres of several of Messiaen's works for organ in New York City, across the United States, and in Japan. He is known internationally as an authority on this repertoire. During 2008 he celebrated Messiaen's centenary around the world with concerts (including the first complete performance of the organ works in Japan), masterclasses, and lectures. His book, Performing Messiaen's Organ Music: 66 Masterclasses, was published by Indiana University Press in 2010.

Jon Gillock has established an international career not only as a performer but also as a master teacher. Now a resident of Paris, he has been a member of the organ faculties of both The Juilliard School and the Manhattan School of Music in New York City and Montclair State University in Upper Montclair, New Jersey. From 2004-2009, he participated as Artist Faculty with Yuko Hayashi in the Boston Organ Academy. This summer he will begin a similar teaching venture with the Ascension Organ Academy, Church of the Ascension, New York City, centered around the new French organ by Pascal Quoirin. He has also served as a jury member for international organ competitions.

Jon Gillock was named International Performer of the Year, 1999-2000, by the New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. This prestigious honor was awarded to him "in recognition of his outstanding achievements and contribution to organ performance". Among the awards he has received for his recordings are the Diapason d'Or and the 10 de Répertoire in France and the Deutsche Schallplatten Preis in Germany.


The Manton Memorial Organ

new organ console

The Manton Memorial Organ by Pascal Quoirin of St. Didier, France, is the first French-built pipe organ ever installed in New York City. With its 6,183 pipes, 95 stops, 111 ranks, 2 consoles, and 7 keyboards, it is the largest French organ built anywhere in almost 50 years.

This new organ is made possible by a grant from The Manton Foundation to honor the memory of Sir Edwin and Lady Manton, who were active members of the Church of the Ascension for over 50 years.

The organ's remarkable sound qualities impress both the novice and experienced listener, with an extraordinary dynamic range from ethereal and delicate to powerful and profound. The organ has a coloristic palate that expresses the clarity of Baroque masterworks, the virtually infinite nuance of 19th and 20th Century French masters, and offers the versatility demanded by the works of today and the future.

Would you like to know more about the Manton Memorial Organ project?

Interviews, articles and press releases are archived on site:

Dennis Keene on The Manton Memorial Organ and the Inaugural Festival:

"In the world today, there are just a handful of the absolutely top organ builders. Among those, we felt that Pascal Quoirin would build us the finest eclectic organ possible.

The results have exceeded my expectations by a margin greater than in any artistic endeavor in my entire career. The organ he and his team have built for Ascension is the most successful eclectic organ I have ever played. The instrument sounds entirely different depending on what combination of stops one draws. It is difficult to comprehend that a single instrument can play with timbres of such warm, rich, sonorous 19th century qualities at one moment, and then turn around and play North German Baroque or French Baroque music with such clarity, brilliance, and authority. I have never experienced such range in one instrument. And the fact that all of these sounds are so beautiful, so human is even more amazing.

Our first three organ recitalists are extraordinary individual artists, each with a very strong musical personality. They will use the organ in very different ways, and consequently the Ascension organ will sound completely different at these three events.

The choral concerts by the Voices of Ascension will feature the organ in a prominent role as we perform some of our most beloved signature works including the magnificent Requiem by Maurice Duruflé (which we have not performed in many years!), works by Fauré, Poulenc, Boulanger, Kodaly's Missa Brevis, and Parry's I was glad.

We invite you to join us for our celebrated choral concerts, our world class organ recitals, or both! You are also invited to attend the grand Dedicatory Mass with Blessing of the New Organ on May 1 at 4:00pm."

Church of the Ascension with the new Manton Memorial Organ

Archive: 2011 Inaugural Festival Events

Sunday, 1 May 2011, 4:00 p.m.
Service of dedication, a Festal Eucharist and blessing of the new organ, with the choir of Church of the Ascension. Dennis Keene will conduct as well as play works of Duruflé, J.S. Bach, and French Baroque composers.
Thursday, 5 May 2011, 8:00 p.m.
Gala dedicatory recital by internationally acclaimed organist Jon Gillock, with French 19th and 20th century music (Dupré, Franck, Cochereau, Vierne, Tournemire, Duruflé, Langlais, Messiaen).
Wednesday, 11 May 2011, 8:00 p.m.
First inaugural organ-choral event, by Voices of Ascension Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Dennis Keene, featuring the organ in French works (Duruflé Requiem and music by Fauré, Poulenc, Boulanger, others).
Thursday, 26 May 2011, 8:00 p.m.
Second inaugural recital by Francis Chapelet, featuring Baroque works from France, Spain and Germany (works by Raison, DuMage, J.S. Bach, and Spanish Baroque composers).
Wednesday, 8 June 2011, 8:00 p.m.
Second inaugural organ-choral event, by Voices of Ascension Chorus conducted by Dennis Keene, in a concert entitled "Pipes and Voices" (Kodály Missa Brevis, Parry I Was Glad, the world premiere of Chiayu's Five Essences for solo organ, and winners of the 2011 Sorel Composition Competition).
Thursday, 16 June 2011, 8:00 p.m.
Third inaugural recital by Christoph Bossert, featuring German repertory (J.S. Bach, Mendelssohn, Reger, and others).
Monday, 20 June – Friday, 24 June 2011
First annual Organ Academy. For the inaugural year, the faculty and the focus of repertory will be all-French, from early Baroque through Messiaen.

The Manton Memorial Organ
Church of the Ascension
New York, New York

Pascal Quoirin
Saint-Didier, France

95 stops, 111 ranks
Three-manual, mechanical-action console
Four-manual electric console (movable)

Manton Memorial Organ by Pascal Quorin, installed in the Church fo the Ascension, Fifth Avenue in Greenwich Village, New York City
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16 Montre
16 Bourdon
8 Montre
8 *Second (large Cavaillé-Coll-style Montre)
8 Flûte traversière
8 Bourdon
8 Gambe
5 1/3 Gros Nasard
4 Prestant
4 *Second (large Cavaillé-Coll-style Prestant)
4 Flûte ouverte
3 1/5 Grosse Tierce 
2 2/3 Quinte
2 2/3 Nasard
2 Doublette
2 Flûte    
   Grande Fourniture II
   Fourniture IV
   Cymbale III
   Cornet VII (C3)
16 Bombarde
8 1ère Trompette
8 2ème Trompette (chamade)
4 Clairon
8 Trompette harmonique
en chamade

16 Quintaton 
8 Montre 
8 Flûte conique 
8 Bourdon 
8 Salicional?
4 Prestant 
4 Flûte conique 
2 2/3 Nasard?
2 Doublette
2 Quarte de Nasard 
1 3/5 Tierce 
1 1/3 Larigot  
1 Flageolet 
   Fourniture IV 
   Cymbale III 
16 Basson 
8 Trompette 
4 Clairon
8 Cromorne    
8 *Trompette harmonique
en chamade

RÉCIT-ÉCHO (expressif) 
8 Bourdon 
4 Flûte allemande 
2 2/3 Nasard 
1 3/5 Tierce 
8 Trompette 
8 Hautbois 
8 Voix humaine 
8 Basson (Cor anglais) 
8 Clarinette   
8 * Trompette harmonique
en chamade

16 *Bourdon?
8 *Principal
8 *Flûte harmonique?
8 *Bourdon
?8 *Gambe
8 *Voix céleste 
8 *Aéoline 
8 *Aéoline céleste  
4 *Prestant 
4 *Flûte octaviante 
2 2/3 *Nasard harmonique 
2 *Octavin  
1 3/5 *Tierce harmonique 
   *Plein Jeu V
   *Sur Cymbale III
16 *Basson 
8 *Trompette harmonique 
4 *Clairon harmonique  
8 *Basson Hautbois  
8 *Voix humaine       
8 *Trompette harmonique
en chamade

32 Bourdon  
16 Flûte
16 Principal  
16 Bourdon
16 *Petit Bourdon (Récit)
10 2/3 Grande Quinte
8 Flûte
8 Violoncelle
8 Bourdon
6 2/3 Grande Tierce
51/3 Quinte
4 Prestant
4 Flûte
3 1/5 Tierce
2 Quinzième
   Plein Jeu IV
32 Bombarde
16 Bombarde
16 Basson (Schnitger-type Posaune)
8 Trompette
8 Basson (Schnitger-type Posaune)
4 Clairon
8 *Trompette harmonique
en chamade

*playable only on the electric console