World Class Music Comes to Norfolk

Marjorie Turner Hollman
Daniel Dickson, the Federated Church’s music director.
Issue Date: 
December, 2018
Article Body: 

Norfolk is becoming the place to be for classical music, thanks to the hard work of the Norfolk Federated Church’s music director, Daniel Dickson. Dickson, himself a world class classical pianist and cellist, provides music for each week’s Sunday worship services and has organized a local monthly concert series offering a wide range of classical chamber music. Dickson has traveled throughout North America, South America, Russia, and China bringing classical music to diverse audiences.
Pastor Scott Cousineau, a music enthusiast, is excited about what Dickson brings to the church community, as well as the wider community. He and Dickson talked about ideas for bringing people into the church and came up with the concept of offering a monthly music concert series. The result of their brainstorming is the 2018/2019 Chamber Music Concert Series, “World Class Music in Your Neighborhood!”
Dickson presented a solo evening of classical piano pieces in October, and spent time prior to playing each piece helping the audience understand what they were about to hear, and pointing out special aspects of the music to listen for. His easy sense of humor and passion for teaching put the audience at ease, kept them smiling, and left us wanting more. Parishioner Jim Lehan left the October concert shaking his head. ”Daniel is so good, he brings such great music to us, I’m just afraid we will lose him.”
Another parishioner, Nicole Siedel, whose daughter Catherine is a piano student of Dickson’s, commented that “Daniel has taken my daughter’s piano playing to a whole other level.” She continued, “He introduced Catherine to the National Guild of Piano [which requires an audition to become a member]. Daniel comes to our home to offer lessons, so our whole family has gotten to know him. That was my youngest who called out at the beginning of the concert, ‘Where’s Daniel?’” Indeed, as the concert was about to begin, when the child called for Daniel, Dickson strode onto the stage, all 6’7” of him, and laughed in delight with perhaps his youngest fan, who was ready and eager to hear what Daniel had for us. His pleasure in performing, and warm manner put all of us at ease.
While Dickson was not an eager student when he began his music studies, his father sat daily with him as he practiced. “He did this to be sure I finished my lesson,” Dickson recalled, smiling. Dickson related that his parents are still supportive of his studies and his career in music. In fact, when Dickson and three of his nine siblings all received full scholarships to study music at the University of Missouri (they lived in Washington State at the time,) the family picked up and moved, parents and all ten children, to St. Louis. Dickson and the three siblings had been a performing quartet when they received their full scholarships to study together.
Dickson said, “I never thought cello would be what I would have my degree in, but my scholarship was in cello. I thought my energy would go more toward piano, but in the past several years it has reversed and I am doing much more with cello.” He continued, “When I first came to Norfolk nearly two years ago, we had an idea for a concert series, and saw it as an opportunity to give musicians in Boston a place to play. But we also saw it as a way to give access to young families to classical music, to bring high caliber musicians to the suburbs, with reasonable ticket prices, and easy parking. We could also offer aspiring performers a chance to play. I am very happy with the audience size we have gotten.” In fact, as Dickson hoped, prior to the October concert, two of Dickson’s piano students, Maggie McLeod and Catherine Siedell, played some piano pieces in the church as the audience began filtering in for the 7 p.m. concert.
While Dickson has a full student roster for his piano and cello instruction presently (in fact, he has a wait list) he is happy to refer interested music students to trusted colleagues. He welcomes interested musical performers to send their resume to the church office ([email protected] ) which will get resumes to him. Dickson invites musicians to share music during regular church services, and will be planning next year’s concert series as well.
“We have a regular music calendar for Sunday services,” Dickson explained. “The chancel bell choir alternates with the chancel choir, as well as the praise and worship choice and an instrumental ensemble. We are not playing for applause during Sunday worship services, we are offering music for the glory of God. It’s different than a regular performance. I play the piano for the 3-4 hymns we sing each week, but of course, I like to add to the hymns as I provide accompaniment.”
Dickson concluded our conversation by noting, “I am excited about the good this concert series is doing in the community. It’s enriching for everybody, and creating another venue for classical music.”
In November the series offered a piano trio of piano, violin and cello, with Dickson on the cello. On Friday, December 14, another concert will take place at 7:30 p.m., a violin and piano concert, with a dinner at 6 p.m. prior to the concert. Tickets are sold separately for the dinner and concert afterwards. More concerts in the series will take place Friday, February 8, with dinner at 6 p.m. and the concert at 7:30 p.m. Two more concerts will also be held: Friday, March 8, at 7 p.m. and Friday, April 12 also at 7 p.m. Each concert costs $15 for general admission, $10 for seniors, and $5 for students.
For information about the concerts and/or dinners, email the church office at [email protected] or call 508-528-0262. To view the complete concert schedule, visit the Federated Church’s website at and click on the “community” dropdown list.