Sunday, March 26, 2023

A Crumpled Poem

 Recently Gena Branscombe’s grandson, Roger, sent me a copy of a poem he had found in the family files. Over many years the crumpled piece of paper held the words to a  poem titled, “Farewell to THE OLD TIMER”    To the right of the title is typed, “American Folksy Song of 1942 (With apologies to all concerned.”) 

With great humor the poem writers, who were Branscombe Choral members, describe in great detail the demise of Miss Branscombe’s “rack.”  Gena raised her wand to beat the time and the rack went down!  The “rack” is obviously her conductor’s stand that with much assistance could not be revived.  The Choral members found the “dough” to gift their beloved conductor a new rack hoping she doesn’t want the old one back!  What wonderful humor and one does wonder what the “American Folksy Song of 1942” was. 

This poem/song must have been performed by Choral members at their annual Spring luncheon.  

In 1942 with World War II raging in Europe and the South Pacific, America’s armed forces were fighting to preserve our country’s freedom.  The women of the Branscombe Choral collected money to replace her conductor’s music stand and kept their humor about the entire happening.  Their loved ones may have been abroad fighting in the war.  The Choral members were making music and memories with their conductor, Gena Branscombe.

No matter our country’s hard times, no matter our personal stories whether happy or sad, music doth soothe the soul….as does humor. 

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Dr. Regan Russell - The Arts Songs of Gena Branscombe


Work on doctoral dissertations is arduous with specific guidelines for research and writing form.  For over 3 years Regan Russell researched Gena Branscombe’s life through publications from over 100 years ago and interviews.  She sought out scores of 150 arts songs many of which were out-of-print, some not available because Miss Branscombe lost or destroyed them and the original manuscripts of some were in libraries where copies had to be made.  Persistence….that describes Regan and her dedication to Gena Branscombe’s songs!


On November 17, 2022 at Boston University, Regan presented her doctoral dissertation “Love in a Life: The Art Songs of Gena Branscombe.”  Her presentation included a lecture on Branscombe’s life, song development and a performance of five songs beautifully sung by baritone Gray Leiper with Regan accompanying him.  Regan’s work was scholarly, passionate about the subject matter and her musicianship exceptional.


Her dissertation includes a complete list of Branscombe’s songs, listings of songs for specific voice ranges, suggestions for groupings of songs with program notes explaining how the group works.  With explanations of the poets and their poetry, how the songs fit together and more, her understanding of Branscombe’s songs will be an informative aid for teachers and singers alike. Gena Branscombe’s songs – all 150 – of them are now alive in the 21st century!  Thank you, Dr. Regan. 


There was a live stream of Regan’s presentation.  At the Q&A after she finished, the surprise came when Dr. Morgan Scott Phenix, Gena Branscombe’s grandson, congratulated Regan on all of her work and added his family’s thanks. 


Congratulations, Dr. Regan Russell – “you were chosen.”  It was an honor and privilege to be part of your doctoral degree journey. 

Below is a link to Regan’s dissertation.  Enjoy reading it. 

Read her dissertation on OpenBU here.




Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The Gena Branscombe Project has announced applications for their 2023 scholarships are now open.  They are awarding a $400 scholarship to an up-and-coming student composer, arts administrator and conductor. The deadline for applications is April 30th..

Honoring Miss Branscombe's belief in education and mentorship we offer these scholarships in her name.   

Share this information with your students and colleagues