Spreading the sounds of music


Organist: Margaret L. Budd...

March 23, 1997|By Stephanie Shapiro

Spreading the sounds of music; Organist: Margaret L. Budd founded a concert series that features both student performers and well-known professionals.

Graciously, tenaciously, generously, Margaret L. Budd has spread the gospel of music in Baltimore since 1972. That year, she became the organist at Second Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, where she remains today.

Ten years ago, Budd founded the Second Presbyterian Concert Series, a remarkable (and free) offering of artists ranging from the Morgan State University Choir to Kevin Kenner, the only American ever to win medals at both the international Tchaikovsky and Chopin competitions.

Last month, one concert featured gifted Baltimore youth, including the Mount Royal Elementary School Orchestra. Coming June 1: Jazz musicians Charlie Byrd and Paula Hatcher, who will perform on the church lawn.

Last July, Budd recorded her own CD on Second Presbyterian's Casavant organ console, pausing for the noisy buses that passed outside. The recording was "not something I sought out," she says. It was a command performance, funded by a group of Budd's friends and fans, including Elam Ray Sprenkle, the church's director of choral music.

"In Concert" is a compilation of pieces by Bach, Handel and Vaughan Williams, among others, chosen by Budd "based on the dictates of my own heart yet honoring the individual requests" of others. Included is Sprenkle's "Four Vignettes on the Hodie From the Vespers for the Nativity," composed for Budd when the Casavant organ was installed in 1980.

As she sits in Second Presbyterian's airy sanctuary, Budd tries her hardest to deflect attention away from herself and toward the music, her church community, the future of organ playing and her 21 piano and organ students. She wishes that more people were aware of the concert series, which is supported by church and community members, as well as several grants.

But Budd's outreach has rippled far and wide, a fact readily acknowledged by notable Baltimoreans. A day earlier, Budd had stood before the Sunday afternoon audience that had come to hear Kenner, a former Peabody student and protege of Leon Fleisher. Before the concert, Budd introduced Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who quipped, "It seems like I'm working for you these days." It was not the first time Schmoke had appeared at the concert series at Budd's request.

Budd, a native of Illinois, studied at Oberlin Conservatory and at Northwestern University School of music, where she earned her master's degree in organ performance and church music with highest honors. She has performed around Chicago, the East Coast and in Europe, and has served as organist-in-residence at Gloucester Cathedral.

As a church organist, Budd takes a leading role in Sunday worship. "It's an exhilarating feeling," she says. "I don't look at it as a performance. It's a giving. It's a serving."

Budd and her husband live in Roland Park and have five children and "five precious grandchildren," to whom Budd dedicated her recording.

"In Concert" sells for $15 and is available through Malcolm Dutterer at 410-668-9496. All proceeds benefit the concert series. Martin Dansicker had just returned from a family fishing trip when he suddenly found he could not speak. The 37-year-old union leader indicated to his wife that he also had a splitting headache and a growing weakness in his leg. At the hospital, they discovered Dansicker had suffered a stroke, which would forever change their lives.

After a year of hospitalizations, brain surgery and therapy, Dansicker regained his speech and most of his former abilities. (He now reviews disability claims for the Social Security Administration.) But it took longer for his children to recover from the severe blow to their family.

As a result, Martin and his wife, Janice, of Pikesville have helped create a book for children that explains brain injury, its treatment and recovery.

"Why Did It Happen on a School Day?" -- published by the Brain Injury Association Inc. -- is written in the voice of 8-year-old "Steve," who tells what happens to his father after his car accident.

"There were times when Dad got really angry. He would throw his food, say bad words and swing at people near him. It was hard to believe, but the doctor said this was normal. It was hard to believe this was my dad."

"When a parent becomes ill, it's devastating," says Janice Dansicker, a social worker for Sinai Hospital's home care and hospice program. "For a long time, our kids would say, 'When are we getting the old Daddy back?' Then they just stopped saying it."

After Martin's stroke, Janice went back to work part-time as a nurse's assistant. Meanwhile, 14-year-old Andy and 11-year-old Jason struggled to keep up in school and relate to a father who couldn't hold a pencil or speak to them. While Andy assumed the role of "man of the house," Jason became fearful and prone to nightmares. They also suffered from depression.

Now, 16 years later, Andy Dansicker is a lawyer in Manhattan and Jason is a stockbroker for T. Rowe Price.

"Both of them -- knock on Formica! -- have become sensitive, caring, compassionate people who go out of their way for others," their mother says. "It was a turning point for all of us."

"Why Did It Happen on a School Day?" was also written by Bob Cameron, Debbie Kitchner, Linda Hays-Maughan, Patrice Brylske and Jeannette Felton. James Scott Brady Jr., son of gunshot victim James Brady, wrote the foreword.

The illustrated book is available from the Brain Injury Association for $11.45, which includes shipping. For details, call 202-296-6443.

Linell Smith

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