Happy early Tuesday morning,

Given the past week’s chaos of signing a lease on our new Upper East Side apartment, caring for a baby and paving the road for all that will soon come, I only now had the opportunity to open the beautiful “farewell” gift presented to me during the service on June 9. I can not thank you all enough for this! It is such a poignant and personal statement about the relationship we have shared at Grace Church over these past 5-1/2 years. I’m sure I am missing too many names and too many emails here, but I hope this reaches enough of the people for whom I have contacts that my gratitude will be shared appropriately with everybody.

It was clear when I arrived at Grace Church in 2007 that this was an historically important place serving a diverse community determined to create a future in keeping with the greatness of the past, no matter how long that journey took, nor how long was the wait. This has come into fruition in so many ways, most profoundly underscored with the arrival of the long-awaited new organ which, having performed upon or recorded most of the great organs in the world I’d only dreamed of encountering as a child, will leave a mark on my own artistic palette. I am grateful for the short time I could live with “her” as she came to life earlier this Spring.

Music at last Sunday’s 11am service embraced, altogether, the very elegance with which I would have hoped to “say goodbye.” I could not have wanted a more touching and perfect sense of closure. No matter how difficult the tasks, no matter how sometimes “colorful” our relationships and collaborations, there is nothing more beautiful than the music in liturgy which points beyond us towards God. I feel truly lucky to have shared with you so many such experiences that will stay with me.

The new path ahead both continues the inevitable after 25 years and races my engines. This coming Summer sees my 43rd tour outside the USA and, in La Verna, Italy in July, my 1400th solo concert. And beyond that, expanding European touring now encompasses a major teaching opportunity in southern Germany that allows me to share my knowledge and experience with the next generation on a rewarding level for which I feel quite honored. Guest teaching at a sort of “height” in one’s lifeline, accompanied by additional frequent flyer miles. A bit closer to home, there will also be some new landscapes for me right here in NYC. I am not yet at liberty to say more at this moment, but will in the near future.

With every good wish and thankfulness for the time I’ve had with you……

Yours,

Stephen
www.stephentharp.com