Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Twenty years have passed since I began my Gena Project, as I call it.  Many of you have read and heard how I discovered her music, my journey through her life, co-authoring and performing a one-woman show, writing articles and giving talks about composer Gena Branscombe.

Through the twenty years there have been countless people who have helped me, encouraged me, contacted me and been cheerleaders for the work I was doing.  As I look back, I have been blessed by each of these people, what they have generously given me and for their friendship.

Very few of my Gena people had met one another and in some ways, they were compartmentalized because of their location or expertise.  Yet, each day I have been thankful for all of their contributions to my work.

When Dan Ryan, Director of Choral Activities, at Clark University in Worcester, MA, announced he would be performing Gena Branscombe’s oratorio Pilgrims of Destiny on April 27, 2019, I knew that was the day all my Gena people would come together.  Following the concert at a reception, I would be able to thank each of them and they would be able to meet one another.

In attendance were Gena Branscombe’s grandsons, Roger Branscombe Phenix and his wife, Joanne, and Morgan Scott Phenix.  Gena’s family has been most generous with their time sharing stories, pictures, newspaper clippings and more.  Their thanks for the work I have done warm my heart. 

Dr. Laurine Elkins Marlow and husband Bill.  Laurine met Gena and wrote her dissertation on her.  Over the years Laurine shared with me her time spent with Gena as she listened to the composer tell her life story.  What a friend and generous colleague she has been and will continue to be. 

Allison Branscombe and husband Bob Remen.  Allison is Gena’s great niece and my writing mentor.  Allison makes sure to let me know I must continue writing and get that children’s book finished!

Martin Hennessy and partner, Tom.  Martin is my friend and fabulous pianist.  Truthfully, without Martin’s encouraging me to record Gena’s songs, the Pilgrims of Destiny concert would probably never have taken place. 

Heather Seaton, a friend and champion of Gena’s music.  The two of us photographed each and every page of the Pilgrims of Destiny score at the Library of Congress.  A dear person!

Linda Johnson and her sister, Carol, who are the great granddaughters of Gena’s publisher, Arthur P. Schmidt.  Linda found me on the internet and contacted me to recount her family’s story with Mr. Schmidt.  Someday soon, Linda and I will meet at the Library of Congress to look over the Schmidt Company business papers. 

 George Boziwick and his wife, Stephanie.  George, now retired, was head of the American Music Collection and Special Collections at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.  In the early days of my Gena Project, George listened as I explained all I wanted to do.  He gave me solid advice and over the years we would see one another as I made another trip to the library to look through Gena’s collection.  George’s encouragement was instrumental in my getting started on Gena’s life and music. 

Dan Ryan, conductor of that evening’s concert.  What a wise man, a good conductor and friend.  It has been a pleasure working with someone determined to present a piece of music composed by a woman.  He understood the historical importance of Pilgrims and will continue to put forth Gena’s music.  You have made my twenty years’ dream of having this work performed….a dream come true.  Thank you. 

Charles Peterson – my voice teacher from far longer ago than 20 years.  All those years ago he tapped me on the shoulder and invited me to study voice with him.  Several years later, he opened his studio door encouraging me to find my place in the music world.  I did!

Dan Holland – my husband of 33+ years and champion of the work I have done.  Thank you for comprehending what a project this was going to be, what it was and where it will go in the future.   

And, to all my other dear friends and neighbors who traveled to attend the concert, thank you.  

A weekend filled with real people, real Gena Branscombe people.  The conversation flowed, friendships were renewed, friendships were made and a dream came true.  Thank you all.  May Gena’s music live on in the 21st century. 


Friday, May 10, 2019

Recognition from Canada

With many thanks to the Honourable Neil Ellis, Member of Parliament, Bay of  Qunite, for the letter below:

Monday, April 22, 2019

Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Richard Duckett of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette wrote a feature article about this Saturday's performance of Gena Branscombe's dramatic oratorio, Pilgrims of Destiny.   Conducted by Dan Ryan, Director of Choral Activities at Clark University, the concert includes the Clark University choirs, soloists, children's choir and orchestra.  A woman composer's award winning work will have its first performance in the 21st century!



Saturday, April 13, 2019

Pilgrims of Destiny Concert at Clark University

On Saturday evening, April 27th, the Clark University Choirs under the direction of Dan Ryan will perform Gena Branscombe's dramatic oratorio, Pilgrims of Destiny.  

Composed in 1919, the 1929 premiere of this work was given in Plymouth, MA with the last known performance in 1940.  This performance will mark the 21st century premiere of Miss Branscombe's masterpiece.  

The concert is free and open to the public.  Please join us in Worcester, MA at Clark University's Atwood Hall for what will be an exciting evening of beautiful music. 


Friday, March 15, 2019

National League of American Pen Women Article

The National League of American Pen Women's Spring magazine features an article about their illustrious former member, composer Gena Branscombe.  Miss Branscombe became a member in 1924.  In 1928 the Pen Women awarded her dramatic oratorio, Pilgrims of Destiny, their National Best Composition Award.

The upcoming performance of the oratorio at Clark University under the direction of Dan Ryan, Director of Choral Activities, is mentioned in this article.

Click on the link below to read the article.



Clark University, March 10 and 11, 2019

On Sunday, March 10th and Monday, March 11th, I was invited to Clark University to work with conductor, Dan Ryan, his chorus and student soloists.  To say the very least, it was two fun-filled days of meeting students, listening to them sing Gena Branscombe’s music, answering questions about the composer’s life and music as well as participating in the evening chorus rehearsal for Pilgrims of Destiny.  What a great job these musicians are doing to make the concert happen. 

This is the beginning of a dream coming true!  Twenty years ago when I met Gena Tenney Phenix, Gena Branscombe’s eldest daughter, she showed me her copy of the Pilgrims’ score.  When I asked if I could borrow the score to make a copy of it, she replied that she did not want the music to leave her house.  That was fine and I understood.

Over the ensuing years I studied the Pilgrims of Destiny score in the Special Collections section of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.  At the Library of Congress I studied the original conductor’s score.  A copy of the 1929 piano/vocal score came up for sale on E-bay and I purchased it which only made my dreams of a future performance stronger.

As I wrote in an earlier blog, Dan Ryan, Director of Choral Activities at Clark University, purchased a copy of the score at a yard sale and made it his mission to perform this piece of music.  His mission will come alive with the Saturday, April 27th performance.  Thank you, Dan.

With his students, they have created the hashtag #BringingBackBranscombe.  They have put news of the performance on all levels of social media including the Pilgrims of Destiny blog, Facebook, Twitter and more.  They have applied for and been given grant money to cover the expenses of the performance.  Two of Dan’s students have programmed Gena’s art songs on their recitals.  How wonderful is that?  The enthusiasm that the Clark University students have shown for Miss Branscombe’s music is heart-warming. 

Thank you Dan Ryan and the Clark University Choir for your hard work.  I look forward to seeing all of you at the end of April and hearing this beautiful music. 


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Below is the hyperlink to the Pilgrims of Destiny blog.  The students at Clark University led by their conductor, Dan Ryan, are preparing for the upcoming April concert of this beautiful and historical piece of music.  I love their hashtag  #BringBackBranscombe!  

When you read the blog, click on the "FOLLOWERS" button.  You'll be notified when new blogs are posted.  You will get updates on their rehearsals and more.


Last evening via Skype, I was able to see and listen to their rehearsal.  Dan Ryan is preparing his students for April's performance.  It will be special  Great job, Dan!