THE JOACHIM AND NANCIANNE PARRELLA MEMORIAL ORGAN FUND

The Joachim and Nancianne Parrella Memorial Organ Fund honors two beloved members of the St. Ignatius Loyola family and the greater musical community. Donations will be used for tuning and maintenance of the N.P. Mander Organ, funding the organ recital series, and maintaining the exemplary standard of musicianship of the Principal Organist at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola.

Nancianne B. Parrella, 83, renowned musician, educator, and Organist Emerita of the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, died on June 2, 2019. Joachim E. Parrella, her husband of 55 years, an aircraft engineer-turned-choral director and logistician, died on April 28, 2013 at age 83.

During her 22 years tenure at St. Ignatius, Nancianne played an indispensable part in the liturgies of St. Ignatius as organist and on the church’s acclaimed concert series as organ soloist, continuo player, and accompanist for choral and orchestral works under the direction of its founder Kent Tritle and its current Artistic Director K. Scott Warren. Nancianne’s signature Organ Plus! recitals, regular audience favorites on the N.P. Mander Organ Recital Series, demonstrated the versatility of the organ in combination with harp, violin, and violoncello. In addition to New York City performances, Organ Plus! enjoyed performances in Ohio, New Jersey, Texas, and Long Island.

Joachim (Jo) Parrella was Logistics Coordinator for the concert series at St. Ignatius from 1995-2013. Possessing the skills of an aircraft engineer with the heart and soul of a musician, it was Jo who crafted detailed schematics and precise timelines for each concert. The concertgoing community of St. Ignatius was the beneficiary of his logistical knowledge and experience, which was honed while working with Robert Shaw at Shaw’s Choral Workshops at Westminster Choir College, and with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in later years.

His work was behind the scenesunseen, mostly unrecognized by all but a few, but absolutely essential to the success of the performances. Jo was well organized and did his job with meticulous attention to detail. He believed this allowed the musicians to make music without distraction by non-musical issues. Musicians remember his warm and welcoming manner, and how he treated them both as professionals and as members of the St. Ignatius family.

Jo began a career in aircraft engineering, but later decided to go back to school to study to be a teacher of choral music. It was always the love of his life. He sang in church choirs and in small groups, wrote choral arrangements, managed choruses, established boards to help organize them, wrote publicity and programs, and later became a recording engineer for concerts. He started teaching at age 31. He taught first in the Trenton, NJ public schools and then in Princeton, NJ schools for 32 years, notably as the Choral Director at John Witherspoon Middle School, where he established a very successful choral program.

When Nancianne began as an accompanist for legendary choral conductor Robert Shaw's workshops in Princeton and later in France, Jo worked as a team with Mr. Shaw, preparing scores and arranging all the logistical details of performances. He served a similar function for the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, arranging every detail of concerts for a major tour of Germany.

A superb organist, Nancianne’s solo recitals and organ concerto performances with orchestras were brilliant, but it was as a collaborative artistone of America’s preeminent choral accompaniststhat Nancianne soared above all. In Princeton, she was co-director with William Trego of the renowned Princeton High School Choir, which for most would have been a full career, but she then went on to join the faculty of Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where she was accompanist and assistant director of the famed Westminster Choir and Symphonic Choir directed by the late Joseph Flummerfelt, with which she toured and recorded extensively in Europe, America, Taiwan and Korea.

While teaching at PHS, Nancianne taught in summer programs at Westminster, performing with major choral conductors. She also assisted at the Spoleto Festivals in Italy and in Charleston, SC, where she was the founding director of the chamber music series “Intermezzo.” She worked with Maurice Duruflé on the first performances of his Requiem in the United States.

Nancianne’s long association with America’s pioneering choral conductor Robert Shaw began at his summer choral workshops, continued in France with his Festival singers, and included touring and recording in America, France, and Brazil. She also collaborated with other major conductors of the era: Kurt Masur, Charles Dutoit, and Lorin Maazel with the NY Philharmonic; Wolfgang Sawallisch of the Philadelphia Orchestra; Zdenek Macal and Neeme Järvi of the NJ Symphony; and James Bagwell and Louis Langreé in New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival.

From 1978 -92, she worked with Frederick Grimes in the acclaimed Bach Vespers program at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and was a frequent accompanist for other conductors, including Dennis Keene and Voices of Ascension. For 14 years she worked with Greg Funfgeld and the Bethlehem Bach Choir in its historic Festivals in Pennsylvania, and she also served at Trinity Church, Princeton, with John Bertalot. 


Both Nancianne and Jo will long be remembered by the thousands of students, colleagues, and friends whose lives they touched and who were made to feel part of their family over the course of their more than six-decade career in music and education.  To the St. Ignatius parish community, Nancianne and Jo exemplified excellence, not just in musical performance, but in ministry, treating everyone with a warmth and dignity that continues to inspire us all.

 
 
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