Every other blog entry I make seems to be about Gena Branscombe items that have been given to me or that I purchased from E-bay or Amazon websites.
This past week two people sent me Branscombe items. From the daughter of Agnes Conway, a Branscombe Choral member, I received 45 rpm records of the December 1953, Spring and December 1954 performances the Choral gave at the Broadway Tabernacle Church and Town Hall. Thank you to Mary Conway for these recordings. Agnes Conway passed away on December 31, 2017. I am fairly sure she was the last Branscombe Choral member.
From the grandson of Branscombe Choral member, Marie Zieres, I received her choral folder. Covered in red fabric, the folder matched the robes and hats the women wore for their concerts. Neatly tucked inside the folder were the programs from the Choral’s December 1949 and May 1950 concerts. The small treasure inside the folder was a receipt made out to Marie Zieres dated March 6, 1950 in the amount of $5.00 paying for her dues.
In June 2008, my husband, Dan, and I traveled to Jamestown, NY to visit with Mrs. Zieres. Her grandson, Mark, had been researching the Branscombe Choral, his grandmother’s beloved singing group. After contacting me, it was decided that a visit with his grandmother would be helpful in understanding the members of this women’s chorus who were dedicated to their conductor. Taking with me the Branscombe Choral scrapbooks, Mrs. Zieres looked at them reminiscing about her days singing with the Choral and recognizing fellow members. She had brought her letters from Miss Branscombe, concert programs, records and the red folder to show me.
Her descriptive stories about Miss Branscombe always being the leader who dressed beautifully for rehearsals and performances, spoke eloquently, was a true professional teacher, musician and conductor with patience and encouragement asking that her ladies sing to the best of their ability were a delight. Notice the folders held by the Choral members in the photo below!
To Mary Conway and Mark Curtis who gave me these treasured possessions of their family’s Branscombe Choral members, I thank you. The red folder, programs, receipt and records add to the story of conductor, Gena Branscombe, and the impact her music making had on the world at large.