The Voice of Orpheus

Volume 4, #2____February 2003
Art: Bob Swaim ____ Editor: Ned Mackey

Ring out the Old
We've put sixteen concerts in the books since our first rehearsal in August. (We enjoyed wishing the community a Merry Christmas in ten concerts in the first two weeks of December; now we wish our readers a Happy New Year.) We're back at work preparing for the second half of our concert season.

Christmas at San Xavier del Bac
Christmas performances with the Tucson Boys Chorus and some excellent soloists is an annual highlight for Orpheus. Patronato San Xavier, the organization that funds the restoration of the mission, presented six concerts this season. If you count the hundred or so who came to see the final rehearsal, roughly 1500 people enjoyed the sounds of Christmas in the beauty of that magnificent building.

Orpheus was wholly responsible for "Riu Riu Chiu," a 16th century Spanish carol; and "Spaseniye Sodelal," a modern Kievan chant. We loved singing both of them, and fancy that it wasn't just the splendid acoustic of the mission that made them sound so good.

Keeping it in the Family
Tenor Jerry Villano had an especially nice experience at San Xavier. His grandson Roman sings with the Tucson Boys Chorus. Roman's mom and dad Kathy and Al Gastellum, his grandmother Betty Villano, and his maternal great grandparents Rosalie and Charlie Gaasch were all there to watch him perform with his proud Gramps.

[Fine Duet]

The Mission Inside...
Men who arrived early to set up staging had the opportunity to watch conservators work their magic with paint and gold leaf. Although the interior was finished in 1997, Timothy Lewis and Matilde Rubio return for a couple of months every year to clean and restore areas that have deteriorated since their last visit.

Timothy Lewis is a Tohono O' Odham who was born within sight of San Xavier del Bac. When the European conservators began work on the mission in 1991, they trained interested locals in their craft. Because Lewis was especially adept, the Patronato sent him to Europe for further study. Lewis left his village for Salzburg, Austria and the start of a bright, new career. While in training he met a Spanish woman named Maltide Rubio. They married and now work side by side, mostly on sites in Spain when they aren't tending Tucson's finest landmark. Lewis and Rubio will begin training young people from the village to carry on the work.

And Out
Lorraine Drachman, the Director of Fundraising for the Patronato San Xavier and a member of the Board of Directors of Sons of Orpheus, informs us that work on the exterior has been in progress for many years, but the use of a cement plaster in earlier times caused more problems than it solved. Within a year or two of application, the plaster cracked allowing moisture into the walls. When temperatures changed, the cracks closed and trapped moisture inside, damaging some of the art irreparably.

About eight years ago research into ancient construction in Mexico revealed a better recipe. Instead of a concrete-based plaster, the team now mixes lime, sand, and cactus juice into a "breathing skin." This is applied meticulously as old plaster is scraped away. Today, the exterior has been completed except for the two bell towers. Scaffolding is going up on the west one. It'll take a year and a half to two years to replaster each tower. Lorraine will have to keep her sleeves rolled up, not to squeeze juice out of cacti, but to squeeze cash out of those who would preserve San Xavier del Bac.

Lorraine says her fondest hope is to live long enough to enjoy the finished work and to know the endowment has been funded sufficiently to underwrite the future for San Xavier's preservation expenses. Orpheus is proud of its part in this noble endeavor. We wish Lorraine a long life and plenty of early success so she won't have to work herself to death to see her dream realized.

To Make the Season Bright
Several secular Christmas concerts were on our card too. We joined students at the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind to help Joanne and Ed Anderson with their annual Community Food Bank drive.

December 5 we provided the Christmas music for Loews Ventana Canyon's annual "Celebrating our Communities" program. The crowd was a good one— lots of kids, and we all enjoyed the lighting of the thirty-foot tree in the lobby. An interesting dissociation from the season of good-will-to-men was the bar television in plain view from our risers. We saw a couple of good hockey fights while keeping track of Grayson peripherally— a failing he suggests we are sometimes subject to even when there is nothing else to look at.

Balalaikas in Your Future
The Arizona Balalaika Orchestra and the Kalinka Dancers have entertained the community with authentic Russian instruments and beautiful costumes for the past twenty-three years. Victor Gorodinsky, trained in Moscow as a composer and conductor, will come from the University of Wisconsin to direct the orchestra. The featured soloist is Charlie Rappaport, domra virtuoso from Erie, Pennsylvania. We'll join them for concerts on February 8 at 7:00 p.m. and the following afternoon at 2:00 p.m., both concerts at Pima College's Proscenium Theater, 2202 W. Anklam. Tickets are $15, or $10 for kids and students. Call the box office at 206-6986 to order by credit card. Tickets are also available at the Folk Shop, Hears Music, and at the door, but the latter option is a risky one because these concerts usually sell out.

From the Bookshelf
Ann Patchett, the author of the novel Bel Canto, has written a beautiful description of the power of the human voice in song. The heroine of the tale is a diva named Roxane Coss. Father Arguedas, a priest, reacts thus to her voice:

It was different in ways he never could have imagined, as if the voice were something that could be seen. Certainly it could be felt, even where he stood in the very back of the room. It trembled inside the folds of his cassock, brushed against the skin of his cheeks. Never had he thought, never once, that such a woman existed, one who stood so close to God that God's own voice poured from her. How far she must have gone inside herself to call up that voice. It was as if the voice came from the center of the earth and by the sheer effort and diligence of her will she had pulled it up through the dirt and rock and through the floorboards of the house, up into her feet, where it soared through her, reaching, lifting, warmed by her, and then out of the white lily of her throat and straight to God in heaven. It was a miracle and he wept for the gift of bearing witness.

Profiling Maurice Hill
[Maurice Hill] Maurice grew up in a musical family in Macomb, Illinois. He remembers his first gig, a percussion solo at age 5. By the time he was 8 he had developed a vibrato and began singing in public. Later he played French horn, clarinet, sax, and drums in the high school band. At Western Illinois University he majored in choral and instrumental music and physical education, played football, and was a nationally ranked gymnast— this latter skill leading him to consider a career as a trapeze artist. The Korean Conflict came along and Maurice joined the Marines, who had plenty of daring young men but no trapezes. They did have a band, so Maurice played for the troops from 1951-53, specializing in vocals, percussion, and arranging. After the armistice he returned to Quincy, Illinois to settle down with his college sweetheart and teach music in the high school.

Maurice continued to perform and study while teaching. He earned an MMA from the University of Illinois in 1959 and sang with Robert Shaw in several clinics over the next ten years. He spent a summer behind the Iron Curtain in 1965 with The Roger Wagner Chorale, then returned to take a year sabbatical and sing with Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians and study with Waring's arrangers. In 1970 Maurice won a national competition to sing with Robert Shaw and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra at Ohio's famed Blossom Festival where he studied with such luminaries as Leonard Bernstein, Pierre Boulez, Aaron Copland, Alice Parker, and George Szell.

Maurice has done several arrangements for us and has several more in the works. He conducts our note-bashing sessions and tenor sectionals. He is the first-tenor section leader and a member of the choir's Executive Committee. Maurice's wife of 33 years, Roberta, is a Family Services Coordinator and therapist.

Edmund Waller, English Poet
A new piece for us is J. Chris Moore's beautiful a cappella setting of Waller's "Go, Lovely Rose."

Go, lovely Rose--
Tell her that wastes her time and me,
That now she knows,
When I resemble her to thee,
How sweet and fair she seems to be.

Tell her that's young,
And shuns to have her graces spied,
That hads't thou sprung
In deserts where no men abide,
Thou must have uncommended died.

Small is the worth
Of beauty from the light retired:
Bid her come forth,
Suffer herself to be desired,
And not blush so to be admired.

Then die that she
The common fate of all things rare
May read in thee;
How small a part of time they share
That are so wondrous sweet and fair.

So, what kind of man could imagine sending the rose on a mission and then, asking a lot, bid it die to make the point? (Such contrivance in the seventeenth century wasn't much different from modern models, except that it may be harder in our day to find a beautiful woman who "shuns to have her graces spied.")

Edmund Waller was one of the greatest poets and wits of his day, and a master schemer. He was born in 1606, educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge, and elected to Parliament when he was just sixteen.

During the troubled 1640s Waller tried to maintain a moderate course between the King and his opponents, but in 1643 he devised a plot to oust the Roundheads and secure London for Charles. When the plot was discovered, he was arrested and brought before the Parliament where he confessed and begged to be spared. His salvation lay not in the effectiveness of his plea, but in bribes and the betrayal of his fellow conspirators. He was fined heavily and exiled.

He traveled on the continent until he was allowed to return to England in 1652, whereupon he wrote "Panegyrick to My Lord Protector," to honor Cromwell. In 1660 he wrote "To the King, Upon His Majesty's Happy Return" to celebrate the restoration of Charles II. When Charles observed that the testament to Cromwell was the better poem, Waller replied, "Sir, we poets never succeed so well in writing truth as in fiction." He played dangerous games during his life, but he was agile and died peacefully in his bed at age 82.

Board of Directors Amplified
Five newcomers have signed on to serve alongside returning members of the Board of Directors of Sons of Orpheus, the Male Choir of Tucson. As presently constituted, the group looks like this:
Mo Barkan, Jerry Bouwens, Lorraine Drachman, Marshall Fealk, Don Haskell, Jim Kolbe, Ivor Lichterman, Jerry Nathanson, Faye Robinson, and Judy Strahler. Grayson Hirst, Vaughn Huff, secretary; and Everett Rothrock, treasurer are nonvoting members who represent the choir to the Board.

From Grayson Hirst
I take the greatest pleasure in congratulating the members of our newly formed Board of Directors. Each of these community leaders brings unique talents. They have agreed to serve Orpheus in their respective areas of expertise, to champion and nurture our organization, and to be a guiding force behind the policies and programs of Orpheus. I look forward to working with them as we meet the challenges and the opportunities that come along with expansion.

Orpheus has completed what you might call the first course of the 2002-2003 season. Our concert menu is complete, and we have a great second course coming out of the kitchen. I believe singers and audiences alike will be richly rewarded with the feast. We hope you'll check sonsoforpheus.org for our concert listings, and especially that you'll invite friends to join you at our twelfth annual Gala Spring Concerts, May 17 and 18.

Rummage Sale
To carry Grayson's gastronomic metaphor to the point of gastritis, frankly, we'd rather just sing for our supper. But our rummage sale is second only to our Spring Concerts for stocking the larder.

We pay our director, our treasurer, our rehearsal and concert pianists, our recording technicians; we pay rent for rehearsal and storage space; we photocopy music and programs, pay royalties, hire concert halls, buy costumes and equipment; and we mail this newsletter to 550 homes three times a year.

Antidote for Growing Pains
We have a small cadre of people who help us with publicity, ticket and CD sales (including the taking of phone orders), ushering, the rummage sale, social events, archive collection, etc. Auxiliary chairperson Jean Honeman wonders if our readers might be interested in helping. She figures as little as 5-10 hours per year would be great! Jean can be reached at 577-5757 or at jgbakken@aol.com

Jim Hogan's "Home in Arizona"
Our boy Jim has hit the big time. He wrote music and lyrics for all but one of the tunes on his new CD. The melodies are pleasant and catchy, the lyrics witty. His vocal style couldn't be better. Guitarist Bill Ganz and the other musicians and singers who back Jim are superb, as is the quality of the recording. Think of a hip Sons of the Pioneers.

Our favorites are "Western Wear," "Summertime in Tucson," "Another Cerveza Would Be Nice," and, of course, "Arizona for the Holidays" which Jim has sung with Orpheus for a couple of years.

Jim has generously pledged 50% of the sales of his CDs ($15) purchased at our performances. Look for "Home in Arizona" along with other Orpheus CDs here, or order by telephone--520/299-9900.

To Our Patrons
Thanks to readers of this newsletter and to the travelers who donated refunds at the completion of last summer's tour, Orpheus is the proud owner of a splendid new electric keyboard, a Kurzweil K2600. Your generosity allowed us to buy the top of the line along with keyboard stand, piano bench, and bulletproof case.

November 2 our pianists and several members of the choir met to check out the new baby and to assemble the various pieces that give it a voice. Jim Hogan brought in his amplifier, monitors, speakers, and speaker poles, all of which he is willing to lend us and schlep to concerts. He trained our incipient sound crew how to put what where without strangling themselves in the miles of cables and cords. When all was in readiness, the fun began. Players tried out the various piano and organ modes that we'll actually use. Then, satisfied with the results of the practical approach, they turned to the full range of sounds the Kurzweil can produce: strings, woodwinds, horns, tympani, the whole orchestra! No instrument went untested. If we should ever want an ensemble of jaw harp, nose flute, and comb-and-paper, the Kurzweil can handle it.

A Good Deal for Early Birds
We'll sing our Spring Concerts at Pima College's Proscenium Theater May 17 at 7:00 p.m. and May 18 at 3:00 p.m. Tickets are $15. Seniors and students pay $10. If you get your order in by April 17 the prices are $13 and $8. An order of 10 or more knocks off another dollar per ticket. Mail your order to:

Sons of Orpheus
P O Box 13168
Tucson, AZ 85732
Please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Early Bird Tickets

Please send__________tickets at $13 per.
Please send__________tickets at $8 per.

Total $__________

Minus another dollar for an
order of ten or more.
Total Total $__________

Make checks payable to Sons of Orpheus

include self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Click here for a printable form.

March 29 is the date, the parking lot at Hogan's School of Real Estate, 4023 E. Grant, the place. Sale goes from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call 1 877 447-3611 and leave a message for pickup service, or drop your best stuff off at Hogan's the week of March 24th from 8:30 to 4:30. Come back Saturday and buy someone else's.

Concerts, February-April

  • February 8, 9. See above
  • February 16, Tucson Estates, 2:30 p.m.
  • April 3, TEP to open the Sidewinders' season, 1:00 p.m.
  • April 13, Green Valley Community Church, 3:00 p.m.
  • April 27, Northminster Presbyterian Church, 3:00 p.m.

First TenorsBassesBaritonesSecond Tenors
Beavers, GeneBerger, GraftonArchibald, BillAquilano, Mark
Burner, DanBerger, IvánDickson, ChuckCampbell, Jim
Friesen, GeneBezusco, MikeDumes, ArtDimenstein, Errol
Hall, MartyFountain, JohnEvans, JohnHogan, Jim
Hewett, BobGalasinski, RonFraser, MikeHughes, Jack
Hill, MauriceKaiser, DaveHoneman, VanMiller, Richard
Kurtz, BobLauritzen, PaulHuff, VaughnMoore, Steve
McGorray, TomMagee, MauriceMackey, NedRicheid, Chris
Mortensen, BrucePaulus, AlTess, RaymondRudoi, PJ
Naughton, JimRothrock, EverittWeaber, JimSampson, Bill
Swaim, BobRussell, DougWilliamsen, VernSayre, Larry
Villano, JerrySabers, DarrelYetman, David
Smyth, Gary
Wentzel, Tom

Grayson Hirst, founder/director
Brent Burmeister, accompanist
Sue Lane, accompanist
Jo Anne Anderson, yodeler

Programs of Sons of Orpheus are supported in part by grants from the
Tucson/ Pima Arts Council and the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

Read the September 2002 Newsletter

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updated 02/19/03
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