My Memories. Since that amazing audition Sunday 9/27/64 6:55 pm [we’ve still the audition lists!], And being ‘thrown’ into learning some pretty advanced music- learning to read- and actually singing for a recording session[-the unreleased Martini Salve Regina/ Compere Sola caret monstris-fera Pessima/ and Janequin ‘Song of the birds”]- I still felt pretty insecure, so started to sing around in other groups. They each had their virtues and discoveries, but RCNY still seemed home. I‘d sung under Martin Josman, The Cantata Singers under Robert Hickok and under HB’s HS MA student Ken Cooper, and as Harold was retiring from concerts after about 1966, I’d best get my sight-reading up to par- [a task until just a few years ago].
Perhaps it was Ray Rosenstock, then working on his Maillard dissertation, who introduced me to Irving Godt’s Friday Night Sight-singing group, which had started c.1951 at a G&S gig in Bklyn, and continued then under Ray, Then Boyd Fagan, now under Marge Naughton.
This group, and occasional Renaissance Chorus splinters under Joel Meltz and later John Hetland kept me occupied. Marc mentioned the' Dufay-ant' Political Statements on the street fashioned by Joel, there was also his Electric Circus 'gig' with Frank Zappa- VERY heavy Mothers Of Invention- they dubbed us[accurately] the pseudo freaks!
My next group was the amazing Columbia Collegium then under Taruskin, Blachly and their successors. This group drew in addition to students and amateurs, conservatory instrumentalists. Meeting this trove of expertise impelled Virginia Schuler & I to organize, at Columbia, an open sing where Harold introduced his favorite motets. A few decided to join, but not many.
These experiences stimulated the search for new repertoire, and singing opportunity. Thankfully, the Renaissance revival was in full force- ‘out of the closet’, so we attended Concerts & workshops regularly. We of course heard Pro Musica, The Western Wind’s predecessor ‘The Renaissance Love Sandwich’[sic], and attended the 1971 Josquin Conference/Festival, there meeting Edward Lowinsky, and Fredrich Blume, to whom I gave my Heinrich Finck woodcut, adorning our reprint of his edition of the Hymnen.He found our [Joel's] concept of spreading the repertoire to the streets in tiny copies 'very interesting'.
After a stabbing I escaped the Lower Eastside, for the Columbia area, met Dorrie in 1972 , who had called looking for a singing group[actually in response to John's Village Voice ad]-another alto for the cause. When we met, discovered we often had the same LPs-i.e.:The Lyrichord Cappella Cordina series, which had included some of our own singers among them.
Brooklyn College’s Siegmund Lavarie, whom Harold quotes in his Buscaya notes, one of the émigré’ musicologists starting collegia, as did Paul Hindemith notably at Yale, started groups continued under Hickock and later Harry Salzmann to which I regularly attended. [Harry’s 'Salve Diva Parens' I considered revelatory.] I hope Styra will fill us in more about Dr. Lavarie.
Hindemith’s successor, in a sense was Alejandro Planchart whose Cappella Cordina mentioned above I’d heard in New Haven. Cappella was more professional, and was stimulating, but not with the feeling evoked by Harold.
I was in contact with Nancy and Harold often, and when he edited something anew, the call for singers went out. Now in Massapequa, [matza-pizza he termed it reflecting the dominant demography] Lou Lantz & I were then the contacts, and they collaborated on working the Ockeghem Catholicon “Cuisvis Toni”, and we also read the difficult Carver” Gaude Maria”, & Obrecht M .L’Homme arme’.[ I will attempt in a later piece to list the works in chronological concert order- for which submission of old programs is encouraged]
We used a succession of churches in Brooklyn and the upper west side, but as we hadn’t really hit upon a plan/venue for a concert, the personnel kept changing.
I found Denis Stevens Chorwerk Fayrfax M. Tecum Principium in 1974, showed it to Harold who had doubts about it- then after sharing Steven’s recording of same- which he claimed ‘all wrong’ – said it was a masterpiece- ‘we must do it right’.
Energised, we started rehearsing at 320 w.108 St, where Dorrie & I settled in, a place with ample room, and obtained from Bloomingdale School of music, our neighbor, a donation of 20 fine folding chairs- we were in business. We seemed satisfied with just studying, but when singers got restive- I told Harold we had to actually schedule a concert to keep interest. We finally pulled it off- Harold said it our best group.
When I had auditioned, in 1964, the officers were Dave Weisbrod, who then went to New Haven to work at Yale, later Dan Davis, who I understand now lives in Texas[fill me in if you can].
If I was ‘baptized in the spirit’ by Harold, Hugh Rosenbaum later baptized me in the ‘flesh’- I was left the chorus material-corporation papers/bank account[which I transferred to a savings]/and the like: An act of faith by Hugh normally the paragon of risk-aversion.
I’ve not really understood the organization needs apart from performing, so when we completed our Fayrfax Concert at General Theological Seminary, and services at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and St. Ignatius, in May and June,1975, and Harold retired, we went into caretaker role, maintaining and expanding the library.
I became involved then with my mother’s final needs. The chorus-actually Joel- gave us support and medical advice which was priceless.
When Dorrie & I were married[alas September 11]1977, in New Haven, We again prevailed upon friends to chorally bless the occasion. Boyd Fagan conducted, Debbie Malamud typed a beautiful program, Harold was there to conduct Josquin’s “Ecce Tu Pulcra es”. Our rabbi had never before heard of Salamoni Rossi.
In 1978, when Harold’s condition was discovered, we discussed what he considered his legacy. We ordered reel to reel copies of most of his Eastman Orchestral performances, some of his, which previously, with noisy surfaces we had transferred to the Rogers and Hammerstein Sound Archives at NYPL. He declared his general satisfaction, except perhaps he should make a cut in the allegro of his Introduction & allegro. Claiming also that in general his [and most modern music] inferior to the renaissance masters.
During a visit to Massapequa, he pointed to a packet, in the closet, unopened from American Composers Alliance of his scores, he did agree however to a hearing of his chamber music, and we proceeded to explore with Rosalie Calabrese of ACA, then at W.74 St, the scores.
We discussed with Harold the chorus parts to Josquin’s M. Una Musque de Buscaya, then in his S/A & T/B form. We noted that subsequent uses [including mine] deleted or modified his laboriously worked out musica ficta, and he agreed to a more practical SATB score, in collaboration with and the beautiful orthography of Rita Udell, the Hostess and sometimes conductress of the Friday Night Singers. Rehearing of Baroque 9002 confirmed Harold’s recollections. This edition is Renaissance Chorus Series # VIII.
When we heard Harold and Nancy [and the cats] were driving to Spokane to spend their end time there, a group of us from the Friday Night Group and Renaissance chorus spent a day, singing “Credo Sine Nomine” etc. in Massapequa. Harold mentioned we were saying goodby, we hoped not-and tried to ensure that he had scores there with which to read with singers there. Spokane and later Walla-Walla, were where they remained.
Steve Bonime agreed to take over and we performed the difficult Obrecht Salva Diva Parens at Advent Lutheran Church on 2/25/79.
That same spring, Steve led the chorus for a 6/6/79 Concert at Washington Square Methodist Church, Featuring the Buscaya Kyrie/Agnus , Ockeghem Credo Sine Nomine, Josquin Gloria/sanctus de Beata Virgine.
These groups included new friends from Advent, Hunter College, and some remain in our ‘circle’.
We heard of Harold’s passing 9/26/79 and resolved that his Memorial [12/9/79] include his own rarely heard music, a description of which is elsewhere. Nancy and the family responded immediately with scores and quite scholarly advice, and his sister Blanche with a check. There were a few other donations but lots of volunteers.
Our role was in assembling the artists, some who were recommended by or played with his colleagues, obtaining the venue, and paying for most of the rest. Dorrie did the graphic work, and John Hetland provided many of the singers and publicity.
When Steve introduced me for comments, I was too focused in the details to respond with anything like a statement/speech- saying something like: ‘thanks for coming- lets enjoy the music’.
[I hope to be more communicative at the Centennial.]
The following year- about 6/1/80 I think, Steve prepared the Isaac M.’O Praeclara’ and settings by Senfl, duFay, & Palestrina at Advent.
Our last official concert 6/8/82 was at General Theological Seminary, and featured wonderful Biblical settings and Narratives and conducted by Jennifer Quinn.
We hope Joel Steve and Jennifer will also contribute their memories and perhaps correct mine.