The Pessarra lineage exists for over 900 years in Europe, and in Texas for
over 150 years. Anthony was inspired from an early age by music and family
members with musical talents. There were many examples including
kapellmeisters and organists as well as fiddle players, folk and country singers,
accountants, adventurers, soldiers and even
a Foreign Legion warrior and corporate lawyers .
Early musical studies started at age 3 1/2. Recognizing a prodigious talent at
5, he was accepted as a student by Ethel Clark, a Julliard trained pianist and
organist, and at age 9 began playing for local churches. As organist for St.
Paul's Episcopal church in Freeport, he was immersed in the Merbeck liturgy
and plain chant. Concurrently serving as organist at First Presbyterian Church,
it was common that he ran three blocks from St. Paul to First Presbyterian for
the 11: 15 service.
These early years of church playing provided contact with the great music of the
church including Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Brahms, et al. Additionally, through
association with music directors in church and school settings, he became
familiar with many fine examples of choral and solo literature from Palestrina to
contemporary. From this individual attention and direction there developed a
solid musical and technical foundation of practice habits approaching 4 hours
daily setting musical and performance standards that remain to this day.
He was fortunate at this age to be encouraged by Fr. Stanley Wilson, an
Episcopal priest, to attend church music seminars at the Seminary of the
Southwest in Austin, where he associated with many outstanding musicians of
national stature. This early exposure contributed significantly to the introduction
to and appreciation of the high professional standards that would serve as
models for his own dedication to excellence.
In addition to organ studies, several hours each day were devoted to piano
practice and quickly lead to opportunities as an accompanist for many
different community musical events. At 14, he was exposed to performances
of Prof. Michael Schneider playing J. S. Bach on the St. Johannis-Kirche organ
in Luneberg, Germany. Three of these works, the Toccata, Adagio and Fugue
in C major, Toccata in F major, and the famous D minor Toccata and Fugue,
particularly inspired and motivated study and practice despite his music
instructor's concern about their level of difficulty. The audition performance of
these three pieces eventually led directly
to the award of a full four year music scholarship.
For variety and fun during the teen years, he also played piano and guitar in a
rock band, a jazz ensemble and played various popular music styles and
venues of the day including "battle of the bands", proms, dances, weddings,
parties, etc.- again, over the occasional
criticism and raised eyebrows of his music teacher!
The unavoidable approach of graduation forced considerations of the future
options. In the senior year he ceased lessons in piano and organ for about six
months (for what was a well deserved rest from formal training). However, he
continued to play professionally for various churches and events as well as
maintaining a daily four hour practice schedule. After this hiatus and time to
consider all the available careers the decision was made to pursue a career in
piano and organ performance. That pursuit is an ongoing story and a never
EDUCATION AND CHRONOLOGICAL CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
- Piano and organ lessons 9 yrs - Ethel Clark (Julliard).
- Organist, First Presbyterian and St. Paul's Episcopal Churches
- Accompanist acappella choir, intermediate school/high school and UIL.
- Seminars at Seminary of the Southwest, Austin - first performance of
Handle Messiah, Bach's ltalian Concerto and the Brahms German
- Piano and theory studies with Dr. William Decker (Eastman School) at
Wharton Jr. College - acappella choir accompanist.
vocal and instrumental accompaniments.
- B.Mus. & M.Mus. studies and performance coaching Sam Houston
University - Double majors English lit and philosoply. Dr. Harry Mallard,
Dr. John Paul, Dr. Robert Floyd, Dr. Page C. Long, Dr. William Decker-
organ/piano. Accompanist acappella choIr & grand chorus - first
performance Handel organ concerti with orchestra, R. Vaughn WIlliams
- Premier performance of organ works by Vincent Persichetti for the
composer. Recipient of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Outstanding
Musicianship Award for six undergraduate organ recitals and three
graduate level recitals.
- Organ study with Dr. Hans Dietz and Freida Deicow, UT Austin; Organist
for Hyde Park Baptist Church. Apprentice piano rebuilder with George
- Organist St. Philip Presbyterian Houston. Post Graduate Organ study
with Dr. Robert Jones at the University of Houston. Planned "Programs
for the Young" series demonstrating the versatility of the organ with
discussion of organ construction, history and pipe sound characteristics
performance events during this period
- Organist, First Presbyterian Church, Galveston. Opened Pessarra
Keyboard Arts - piano service and restoration. Apprentice with WIlliam
Butler, organ builder. Chairman, Music Dept. Brazosport Community
College. Recitals, accompaniment and other
Organist at First Presbyterian Church, Galveston for a short period because of
- Organist, First Methodist Church, Lake Jackson, TX . Purchased
Rogers 925 3 manual 70 stop touring organ. Performances of the Major
works of J.S. Bach in standard format and with accompanying light
shows. Accompanist for East Texas Chorale Christmas programs.
Reserve Officer Certification.
- Completed Police training classes for Brazoria County Sheriffs Dept.
at All Saints Cathedral School, USVI.
- (Extended vacation) Organist, Evangelical Lutheran Church, St.
Thomas, USVI. Captain of sailing charter yacht. Instructor in English
- Organist, First Presbyterian Church, Freeport TX. Owner, Keyboard
Arts Piano Restoration including dealer for Baldwin and Kawai pianos.
Organ enlargement project mgr.
recitals and programs
- Organist/Choirmaster, First Lutheran Church, Shreveport, LA. Produced
St. Marks Episcopal Cathedral, Shreveport, LA
- Organist and Music Coordinator for the annual tri-state Lutheran
- Organist, First Presbyterian Church, Freeport, TX. Family gifts.
Operated Keyboard Arts - piano tuning, restoration, consultation. Solo
events, accompaniment for UIL and substitute or interim organist for
several other area churches.
ACTIVITIES 1998 FORWARD
- Organist, St. Matthew Lutheran Houston. Organist/Choirmaster, New
organ project mgr. New Carillon bell system project mgr. Produced
many weddings, wedding policies, Internet websites, costomary,
seasonal concerts, Lenten concerts, pre-Christmas concerts and musical
events. Guest artist programs. Recordings of many works for organ,
voice, instruments. Continued association with Houston Chapter of The
American Guild of Organists….by Anthony The Pipeline Newsletter,
produced A.G.O. Website.
- Established KeyArts Piano of Houston. Residence in Clear Lake; Mfg.
Custom Organ Mirrors. Many recitals, one of which was at Westminster
Methodist, Houston. Vocal/Organ Music of the Christmas season.
Weddings, seasonal music presentations. He is also accompanist for
The John McGhee Christmas "Messiah" presentation in Brazosport
presented every other year.
- Organist at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Houston. His many activities
included projects for a bell tower carillon and organ project to enlarge the
current instrument to over 100 ranks and 4 manuals. He and his wife
Kathy, specialized in creating and producing elegant weddings at St.
Matthew where definitive musical offerings were presented with musical
forces ranging from organ alone, professional soloists from Houston,
orchestras and boy choirs. Many musically and socially high profile
weddings were performed over a 7 year period with in excess of 35,000
guests passing through the church doors. Numerous concerts and pre-
nuptial recitals during this period.
and computer technology and graphics.
- Mr. Pessarra also instructs organists in the use and operations of Allen
and other classical makes of digital church organs. Mr. Pessarra also
personally designs and builds custom organ mirrors for organists
throughout the U.S.A. His interest extends beyond the organ and piano
to astronomy, photography, nutritional medicine
- In addition to organ studies, Anthony was fortunate to be associated with
some of the foremost writers and teachers on the subjects of religious
and philosophical thought. He has an ongoing interest in the philosophy
of religion re mentors: Profs. Hartshorne and Whitehead, Kading,
Ginanscol and Santayana at UT Austin. Anthony and Kathy reside in the
Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. Mr. Pessarra is available for
dedications, organ/piano consultation, instruction, services and
KeyArts Piano of Houston is owned and operated by Anthony in the Clear Lake
area and sells Yamaha, Kawai, Hardman-Peck, Perzina and other pianos.
Anthony has served as publicity, web and newsletter editor for The American
Guild of Organists, Houston Chapter. Anthony is involved in the representation
of used classic organs both electronic and pipe.
MOST RECENT POSITIONS 2007+, Overview
- Bellaire UMC - Houston - 2014 - Organist / Accompanist
- St. Matthew has an excellent performance venue in the culturally active
and diverse Museum District on South Main Street amidst a group of
historic churches noted for their public musical offerings and excellence
in service music. An appearance as dedication recitalist was made by
Carlo Curley, arranged and promoted by Anthony. St. Matthew was
selected for the 2005 closing service by the A.G.O. Houston Chapter.
Many of Houston's finest vocal and instrumental musicians have
performed at St. Matt including Dr. Daniel Shipman, trumpet, Leigh
Shipman, soprano and international personalities such as Melanie
- Alas, the church discontinued the efforts already flourishing in promoting
a growing presence of St. Matthew across the Houston area as a nexus
of musical offerings to the musical community at large. This made it
impossible to have public performance and master classes. Detailed
artistic submissions fore elegant console railings were created. See:
Artist Railings .
- During Anthony's tenure there, this church enjoyed a renewed flourishing
musical presence in the city in the years of 1998 to 2004. He provided
an alternate list of wedding venues for couples who are members and
non-members since St. Matthew no longer accepts these wedding
requests due to a pastoral change. Concert listings were referred to
American Guild of Organists and other venues. Anthony terminated his
association with St. Matthew in 2010 due to change, lack of funds and
little church interest in continuing musical outreach.
for a full realization of potential.
- 2008 Anthony functions best in a supportive, interactive atmosphere of
creativity and musical challenges. Activities and interests include but are
not limited to: Concert series promotion & production; an aggressive
Wedding outreach to the Christian community; recital series; organ &
piano instruction; music outreach programs such as "Concerts with a
Cause"; solo vocal, instrumental programs for public as well as worship
service offerings. Promotional emphasis of music, Internet presence and
communications emphasizing music programs, wedding venue and
support for events is necessary
SUMMARY OF QUALIFICATIONS
Emphasis is placed on the following:
1. Performance & improvisation ability
2. Solid social and interactive abilities
3. A wide range of organizational and office skills
4. Service playing and innovation
6. Integrity in business-High ethics in relationships
7. Knowledge of organs/technologies and pianos.
8. Christian background - Presbyterian/Episcopal/Lutheran
2012: SUMMARY OF PURPOSE
While musical activities and innovation have been many and varied in the prior
position, the need and desire for a broader context of musical endeavor comes
to the surface and is pointing toward a more comprehensive utilization of skills
and abilities in 2010 - 12.
For this recent period of 15 years, he has served as organist/music director,
and one year interim at First Presbyterian Galveston in 2012. Plans for the
future include additional performance opportunities, teaching, service
innovation and professional activities related to the Christian and greater
Houston musical community.
Continuing to provide substitute services, interim organist availability plus
choral skills for churches in the Houston Metro and surrounds.
See: Current calendar at: Organist
In 2012, November, he was asked to fill the position of organist at the First
Presbyterian Church of Galveston. This turned into an interim position
sometime midway in 2013 because of
the lack of a sufficient organ for performance of the works for organ and service
music as well.
A change of mind by the organ committee led into a project of rebuilding the
old Hook and Hastings organ of 117 years of age which was destroyed by
hurricane Ike. In previous months there
was a positive interest in adding a five manual digital concert instrument and
incorporating the best pipe-work from the Hook organ. However, the time at
First Presbyterian was spent well in creating and writing several documents
including a wedding customary, various forms for weddings and music plus a
wealth of current analysis concerning pipe/digital organs.
On January 31, 2013, Anthony accepted a position with Bellaire UMC.
2016 - 2020
Gloria Dei Lutheran Houston
St. Mary Star of the Sea Catholic
St. Michael the Archangel Church
979-292-8268 - KeyArts@att.net
C. Anthony Pessarra
C. Anthony Pessarra Chronological Resume Rev. 1.3.2020
Performance and Activities : www.keyartspianohouston.com/organist