Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Nevada Van der Veer - Contralto


“Am enclosing a programme of Nevada Van der Veer’s concert” …. ““Happiness” was well received in spite of the fact that the accompanist composed as she went along.”  (from a letter to Arthur P. Schmidt, publisher, dated February 11, 1916)


Today as I was transcribing a few of Gena Branscombe’s letters to her publisher, Arthur P. Schmidt, I came across this quote and it made me laugh out loud.  There is no mention of where the concert was held or the accompanist’s name, which is good.  We all have bad performance days.


Nevada Van der Veer (1884-1958) was a New York City born contralto.  Her first name was derived from the admired American opera singer Emma Nevada (1859-1940).  


Miss Van der Veer was a contralto soloist at several New York City churches including Fifth Avenue Presbyterian.  Her singing voice was said to be powerful, even and velvety.  Known for her recital work, she toured frequently.  She recorded with the Victor Light Opera Company and recorded duets with her husband, Reed Miller.  During a meeting given by the National Woman’s Party, she sang at the grave of Susan B. Anthony.  In later years, Nevada became Head of the Voice Department at Cleveland Institute of Music from 1934-1949.


Gena Branscombe gave no indication if she personally knew Nevada Van der Veer or how the singer came to perform her song “Happiness”.  As an accomplished pianist, Miss Branscombe’s accompaniments are difficult and require a great deal of personal preparation and rehearsals with the singer.  Still….the quote made me laugh. 


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