Samuel Fort, and Lillian Fort, posthumously, were honored with the James V Salzwedel Award for Excellence in Church Music, on Dec. 7, 2014, during Sunday worship at Trinity Moravian Church. Rev. Nola R. Knouse presented the award, and Donna Rothrock organized the music and directed the band. Sam led the band in 169A – Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light. And, it was Sam’s Birthday!
Samuel E. Fort, Jr.
You began your musical career playing trumpet in the band at Gray High School and Trinity Moravian Church. After college, you participated both in church choir and band, and joined the Salem Band, serving as assistant director of the Salem Band and Easter Band from the early 1960s. Upon Austin Burke’s retirement, you assumed the directorship of the Salem Band in 1972 and Easter Band in 1975, retiring from both positions in 1991 and continuing to play in both groups. You continue to play cornet with the Trinity band at Easter.
In 1989 you agreed to serve as “interim” choir director at Trinity until a new director could be found – a post that lasted a little over ten years. You introduced many wonderful new pieces to the congregation, and continued to sing for many years after relinquishing your duties as director. To support your work as director, you studied conducting, music theory, and composition “just for fun”, resulting in a better band, a better choir, and some choral calls to worship. You have always felt that the groups whom you served deserved a director who was willing to learn as much about music as possible. You have consistently encouraged young musicians, helping them to attend music festivals, inviting their participation, and making them always feel welcomed and valued.
Throughout your ministry of music, you have modeled true servanthood, with your life and your musical gifts offered in witness and praise to our Lord Jesus Christ. For your dedicated service; your joyful sharing of the gift of music in and beyond worship; and your contribution to the preservation, celebration, and cultivation of the musical life of the Moravians; the Board of Trustees of the Moravian Music Foundation takes great delight in presenting to you the James V. Salzwedel Award for Excellence in Church Music, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, December 7, 2014
Lillian Fishel Fort
Lillian was born into a musical family, and played in the Easter Band starting in 1943 – the first year women were allowed to play. She played in the band at school and at college, including playing with the Darlinettes, an all-women’s dance band. After leaving school, in her own words, to pursue her “Mrs.” degree, she became the perfect helpmate for her husband and musical partner Sam. While Sam directed the Salem Band, she served as chief lemonade maker and band librarian. She faithfully supported the church band, and assembled groups to play concert music at the church. She recruited and rehearsed brass ensembles to accompany many choral works at Trinity, and also recruited band members for special events at Salem College and Old Salem.
A tangible and lasting contribution to Moravian Church music was her typing all of the parts for every tune in the 1974 “green” chorale book for band, on a music typewriter – state-of-the-art technology. These books continue to be widely used in Moravian churches in America and South Africa, and in many schools.
Everything that Lillian did in music seemed effortless; but she worked very hard and practiced every day, following her conviction that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well – especially for the church. With Sam, she encouraged and welcomed young musicians, having a life-long impact on many of us.
For her dedicated service; her joyful sharing of the gift of music in and beyond worship; and her contribution to the preservation, celebration, and cultivation of the musical life of the Moravians; the Board of Trustees of the Moravian Music Foundation takes great delight in presenting to her, posthumously, the James V. Salzwedel Award for Excellence in Church Music, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, December 7, 2014