Thursday, November 9, 2023

Musicians' Club of New York


In 1911 instrumentalists from the New  York Philharmonic, singers from the Metropolitan Opera, composers and church musicians organized and formed The Musicians’ Club of New York.  It is one of the oldest such clubs in the United States. 

"The organization was formed to establish a higher standard of ethics in the various branches of the music profession and to bring a better understanding and closer fellowship among musicians."

Two of the club’s presidents were Walter Damrosch, one of Gena Branscombe’s conducting teachers, and Olga Koussevitzky,

wife of conductor Serge Koussevitzky.  The Musicians’ Club of New York funds the annual Young Artist Awards, a competition for living composers and an International Recording Award.  Quite impressive!

On December 12, 1954 at the prestigious Musicians’ Club of New York, the Branscombe Choral led by Gena Branscombe performed Christmas music on an afternoon concert. 

They were joined on that program by pianist Samuel Sorin.   

The Choral’s next concerts were on December 15th at the National Opera Club and at the Broadway Tabernacle Church on December 19th

December 1954 marked the final month that the Branscombe Choral would perform after which they disbanded having left a deep impression on New York City’s music scene.  Twenty years had passed since the Choral had set up their charter, elected a Board of Directors and began rehearsals with their conductor, composer, arts administrator and marketing genius, Gena Branscombe. 

During those twenty years Miss Branscombe organized concert programs that impressed the New York critics, programs that featured American composers and most important programs that included the music of American women composers.  The 60-75 members of the Choral sang yearly concerts at Town Hall and the Broadway Tabernacle Church. 

The Branscombe Choral sang at the first United Nations in Lake Success, NY and on radio stations that broadcast across the United States and Canada.  Now their musical journey would come to end with one of their final concerts at the Musicians’ Club of New York!



Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Storied Stuff

Today the website, Storied Stuff, published an article I wrote about Gena Branscombe's baton and her autographed music which were gifted to me.  Enjoy reading the article.



Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Scrapbooks, Part II


Back in 2005 I received an e-mail from Elsa Jean Davidson informing me she had in her possession the two Branscombe Choral scrapbooks that dated from 1934-1954.  Her grandmother and mother had been members of the Choral and were  keepers of the scrapbooks.  The scrapbooks were handed down to Elsa Jean to preserve.  

The Branscombe Choral scrapbooks reside with Gena Branscombe’s collection at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. 

Scrapbooks – books that hold mementos, pictures, documents, dried leaves or flowers, postcards, letters, announcements and more.  They help us reach back to precious memories of times gone by whether joy-filled, bittersweet or sad.  Scrapbooking is personal storytelling!

In 1872 Mark Twain, the author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, patented a self-pasting scrapbook that had an adhesive grid pattern on each page.  Who knew this famous author was also an inventor? 

Gena Branscombe’s daughter, Gena Tenney Phenix, kept a scrapbook during her younger years including her years studying at the Royal Conservatory in London.  The scrapbook is in the possession of her son, Roger Phenix. 

Recently Roger shared pictures of his mother’s scrapbook that included an article written by poet and author Katherine Hale. Miss Hale writes of Gena Branscombe's life, studies and her compositional goals.  The article was published in a Canadian newspaper. 

There is a partial article, a recital program with her mother's Violin Sonata in A Minor as the last piece and a typed out commendation.  

What beautiful remembrances and a partial story of her mother’s life cherished by her daughter. 


Sunday, September 10, 2023

Four Years of The Gena Branscombe Project Scholarship Winners


Over the past four years through donations and the purchase of The Gena Branscombe Project merchandise, the money we have received has allowed us to award scholarships to an up-and-coming Arts Administrator, Conductor and Composer. The first year we awarded a Conducting Honorable Mention and the second year an Art Song Commission. 

These scholarships and awards have assisted our talented and gifted winners with furthering their education and careers.  As we get news of our winners’ achievements, we post that update on Facebook.  It has been an honor to see our winners follow in Miss Branscombe’s beliefs that education and hard work will open doors of opportunity. 

Our winners by the year:

For 2020:

For 2021:

For 2022:


For 2023:

Your donations to The Gena Branscombe Project or your purchase of our merchandise will help us grow our yearly scholarship fund. 
Thank you for your continued support.  


Wednesday, September 6, 2023

The Gena Branscombe Project has MERCHANDISE!

The Gena Branscombe Project has merchandise!  For sale is promotional merchandise that supports our mission of #BringingBackBranscombe and increases our scholarship funds. 


Go to the hyperlink below and purchase t-shirts, sweatshirts, mugs and stickers with our logo or pictures of Miss Branscombe conducting.  And, we suggest musical organizations program the music of women composers.

For another 20 hours today, September 6th, we have a discount sale.  It’s back –to-school-time, the holidays are a few short months away.  Buy The Gena Branscombe Project merchandise as special gifts for friends and family.  Someone in your circle of friends and family needs a new coffee mug with an image of Gena Branscombe!

By purchasing any of our items you are helping us fund our yearly scholarships granted to an up-and-coming arts administrator, composer and conductor! 


Tuesday, August 22, 2023

To my darling, Vivian

 At the University of Toronto is held a collection of Gena Branscombe's music, some in manuscript, some original published works.  And, this photograph is in the collection.  

Signed to her darling daughter, Vivian, the picture is dated May 17, 1938, Vivian's birthday.  A beautiful photograph of an elegant, talented, dedicated mother and professional musician.  


Wednesday, July 26, 2023

#BringingBackBranscombe - 2023


Today marks 46 years since Gena Branscombe left this world leaving behind two daughters, two grandsons, nieces and nephews, friends, colleagues, beloved members of her Branscombe Choral and a collection of music that resides at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. 

Luckily before Gena died Laurine Elkins Marlow met her, interviewed her over 18 months and wrote her dissertation about her life and music.  Even with the gift of the dissertation, Miss Branscombe slipped into a “woman composer forgotten” category.  In the ensuing 46 years there were occasional performances of her songs and choral works then came a burst of interest in the past 25 years.

In 1998 Kathleen happened upon the name of Gena Branscombe and her 150 art songs.  The rest is history as told in my many blog postings.  What a 25 year journey it has been #BringingBackBranscombe to the 20th and now 21st century.  The homage we pay to her life and her music is deserved for a woman who was a composer, conductor, leader of women, and arts administrator.  Her exemplary life and music must be recognized today.

Here is a timeline for #BringingBackBranscombe

1980 – Dr. Laurine Elkins Marlow’s dissertation – “Gena Branscombe: American Composer and Conductor: A Study of Her Life and Works

1998 – Kathleen discovers Gena Branscombe’s music at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.  She meets Gena’s eldest daughter, Gena Tenney Phenix and Dr. Laurine Elkins Marlow.

2000 – Kathleen performs several of Miss Branscombe’s songs on recitals in New York City, Minnesota and Florida

2003 – Kathleen’s CD, “Ah! Love, I Shall Thee: Songs of Gena Branscombe” is released on the Albany Records label.

2004 – Premiere in New York City of “Life! Love! Song! A Visit with Gena Branscombe” – one woman show.  Additional performances at the Festival of Women in the Arts -  Elmira, NY, Women in the Arts Conference - St. Louis, MO, Washington, DC, Long Island, NY, Hofstra University, Stoughton Music Society – Quincy, MA, Texas A&M University – College Station, TX, Middle Georgia State University – Macon, GA, Festival of Women Composers – Hartford, CT  and more.

2005- 2020 – Articles about Gena Branscombe published in various music journals. 


CDs released with music of Gena Branscombe:

1996 – “Le Souvenir” – Art Songs

1999 – “By a Canadian Lady” – Piano Music 1841-1997

2005 – “Wishing You and I Were Young Maggie” – Art Songs

2008 -  “Remembered Voices” – Violin Sonata in A Minor

2017 – “Nasty Women” – Piano pieces

2018 - “American Romantics III” – Orchestral work


Lecture Recitals given in Asbury Park, NJ, Library of Congress - Washington, DC, Indiana University, Indiana, PA, Guildford, VT, St. Louis, MO, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, and more.

2018 - Copying Gena Branscombe’s “Pilgrims of Destiny” original conductor’s at the Library of Congress.  Entering the score note by note into FINALE to create a usable conductor’s score for performance..

2019- Dan Ryan conducts the first performance of “Pilgrims of Destiny” in the 21st century at Clark University in Worcester, MA.  First performance of the work in 79 years.

2019 – Dan Ryan and Kathleen inaugurate The Gena Branscombe Project and a Board is formed with Dan, Kathleen, Sydney Pepper and Regan Russell. Website and Facebook pages created.  YouTube channel started.  Fund raising begins to make possible the awarding of scholarships.

2020 – 2023 – The Gena Branscombe Project awards scholarships to up and coming student composers, conductors and arts administrators.  An art song commission is awarded.

2022 – Gena Branscombe Scholarship winner Damali Willingham arranges Gena’s orchestral work, “Festival Prelude” for wind ensemble and conducts the work at the Berklee College of Music. 

2022 – The Gena Branscombe Project sponsors its first concert – “Bringing Back Branscombe” at Colleges of the Fenway in Boston.  Art song premiered composed by our art song commission winner.

2022 – Dr. Regan Russell defends her doctoral dissertation, “Love in a Life: The Art Songs of Gena Branscombe” at Boston University.

2022-2023 – Speeches presented – “Bringing Back Branscombe to the National League of American Pen Women.”

2023 – The Ladies Speak podcast features composer Gena Branscombe with Kathleen Shimeta as narrator. 

2023 – The Gena Branscombe Project sponsors the concert, “Bringing Back Branscombe to the Upper West Side” in New York City at the New York Society for Ethical Culture. Gena’s French Horn pieces, Violin Sonata, songs, piano works and choral works are performed.

2023 – Scholarship winners are performing at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, Glimmerglass Opera, 54 Below in New York City, conducting the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, and more.

2023 – Gena accepted into the Canadian Music Centre.

2023 – Gena’s Violin Sonata in A Minor is performed in Latvia. 

The future holds more good news….TBA!


You may be gone from this earth, Miss Branscombe, but The Gena Branscombe Project is indeed #BringingBackBranscombe!  We know you are smiling down on all that is happening in your name…..”MARVELOUS!”