Dean Letter: Sub-Organist and Assistant Choirmaster

Dear St. Paul’s family,
As we begin the beautiful season of Advent, it’s especially timely to hear about the ministry of our sub-organist and assistant choirmaster, Gabriel Arregui. Gabriel first discovered St. Paul’s some 40 years ago and it has been his spiritual home ever since, regardless of where his musical vocation has taken him. He came home to St. Paul’s about three years ago when we created this part-time position averaging 25 hours per week. Here’s how he generally spends his time:

  • Service playing, including  warm-ups, rehearsal on Sunday morning and Sunday evening – 6 hours/week (more during  Christmas, Easter, etc.)
  • Weekday rehearsals with cathedral choirs – 7 hours per week (less in the summer): serves as the required second adult for children’s ministry
  • Practicing (improvisation, solo repertoire for liturgies and recitals, choral music preparation, hymn and service music preparation) –20-25 hours per week.
  • Administrative (pulling/filing choral anthems, bulletin preparation—1-2 hours per week 

As you can see, his hours run substantially over the 25, but his practice time is not only for St. Paul’s but also for other commitments. Gabriel also spends time each week reviewing the video recordings of services and recitals. He comments,
“This is an important part of what I do. Watching and hearing things where improvement on my part is called for is the simultaneously the most  revealing, honest, and often painful way to observe, but it is an invaluable tool, like having a good coach or teacher. For improvisation, I spend a good amount of time on YouTube, where I hear and study the improvisations of organists I admire. I have learned a great deal this way, as well, besides  listening to my own improvisations—the ultimate brutal teacher. What a gift our livestream recordings are!
“To me, there is no question that this is a ministry.  My constant prayer is to always  bring inspiration and foster spiritual growth among those who listen to our music. Music transcends words and language in a way few things can. I simply see myself as a servant used by God, using the tools and abilities with which I’ve been blessed, to accomplish this.”
If you’ve never heard Gabriel improvise at the end of a service, you have missed something extraordinary. He has a rare gift for this, and the Evensong congregation is often transfixed. Gabriel is an integral part of our music and worship team, and his partnership with Martin Green is a blessing to us all.
Thank you, Gabriel!
Your sister in Christ,

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