Hilary Carman paid the following tribute to Ruth Coggin on her resignation as music director of St Francis of Assisi, Parkview, at a service on 14 January 2018:
“We are hard wired for music. Music and the love of music is part of our genetic makeup and is the birthright of us all. Rhythm is our heartbeat and dancing is a step away from walking.To quote from an article in scientific American : “we have been making music since the dawn of culture – 30 000 years ago early humans were playing bone flutes, percussive instruments and jaw harps. Infants respond to music. Music is universally beloved and uniquely powerful to wring our emotions.” The article goes on to discuss the neuroscientific research which is underway to try and establish which parts of the brain and which neurological pathways are involved in this fundamental human involvement with music.
A fascinating film was made in about 1979 – about three years after the death of Mao Zedong end and the end of the Cultural Revolution. “From Mao to Mozart” described the visit of Isaac Stern to Communist China where he held violin master classes. His students were technically brilliant but failed in their musicality. Under his tuition we watched the conversion from admirable but cold technical prowess to the deeply moving music of Mozart and Brahms.
So what have these statements to do with Ruth?
I speak now as a member of her choir.
Ruth has taken us ordinary members of this congregation – all lovers of music but perhaps with rather ordinary voices and sparse musical training – and shared with us the joy and privilege of singing together and making music together. Ruth has brought the joy and love of music into our lives and has enriched us by so doing.
And now speaking as a member of this congregation:-. She has played for us at our joyful weddings and our sad funerals, at baptisms and birthdays, at our great Christmas and Easter services and at our Communion services Sunday after Sunday.
She is a consummate musician in the Stern tradition and her organ recitals at the end of the services have “wrung my emotions” and brought me to tears .
She has generously shared her gift of musicality, her humour, her vitality and enthusiasm , and her inspiration with us choir members – and I think the congregation itself.
We will miss her sorely.”