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.