Monday, March 28, 2011

Music and Culture - Silvis Energy with Weaver and Larsen Families in Faribault


During the late 1940's, when I was very young and into the 1950's, when I was an impressionable grade school boy, going to Garfield Elementary, a old stucco and wooden frame building that creaked when we walked the stairs, Marge Silvis was our roaming elementary vocal music teacher, and good friend of my parents. Only in later life do I sense what large presence, tall Marge and her tall partner Ed Silvis, played in my formative young life.  Music and then an international flare, that is still a mystery.   Already in 1957, when I was 10, my mom was connecting with Marge and a woman, Anand, who was from India or could it have been Pakistan. Here are a couple of images from that time.
 1957 Ed Silvis, Anand, Marge Silvis and Peg (Margaret Glessner) Weaver , Silvis home in Faribault.
1957 in the Haessley or Silvis Home, Anand with Peg, Margaret Glessner Weaver, Faribault.


Here are Peg Weaver, my mom vocalist, and her best musical friend, Marjorie Hognander Silvis, piano accompanist, preparing for a recital in the late 1940's at the Guild House of the Cathedral of Our Merciful Savior in Faribault. I was inspired to add this today, March 28, 2011as my long term friend Greg Larsen, Faribault Class of 1965, was acknowledging his mentors on his Caring Bridge Site:
Monday, March 28, 2011 8:05 AM, MDT
Musical Mentors
This is the first in a series of reflections on persons who had a strong influence in the direction of my career in music.

I. Marjorie H. Silvis: The Persuasive Authority of Accompaniment

Marjorie H. Silvis was the K-12 Vocal Music teacher at Garfield Elementary School in Faribault, Minnesota during the 1950’s.

Mrs. Silvis was a commanding presence in any setting. She wore a heady essence of perfume that pre-announced she was in the building and was also quite tall. She emphasized this height by wearing very high-heeled shoes and through platinum blond hair styled in the mode of the 1940s.

It was her commanding approach to accompanying singing with piano, however, that really caught my attention. This accompaniment featured prominent bass using doubled sub-octaves – which encouraged rich inner harmonies to emerge, as well. It wasn’t that she played/accompanied loudly. Rather, she played with such authority - even softly - that you just felt compelled to sing.

I tried to emulate this accompaniment style throughout my teaching career and I hope that, perhaps, it inspired young singers to ‘get a grip’ in realizing their own voices. I am grateful for Mrs. Silvis’ example, which led me to consider music as a profession.."

Greg, like Marj, was a dedicated teacher of music, and both Greg (who was my best friend growing up in the small city of Faribault in the 1950's and early 60's) and Marj, supported my musical and especially my singing as a way of expression and communication.   I am adding other photos, today, in May of 2014, as my Rosen Method body work has led me to connect with one of Marj's grandnieces, Rebecca Wigg, who today, after a Rosen Method Bodywork day in Wisconsin, talked to me of her experiences with great aunt Marj and her husband Ed.

Here I am as a lad of 12, already nearing 6' tall looking up at my "uncle" Ed, now returning to Faribault with a lot of things and culture from West Pakistan in 1959.  Ed was exotic, and somehow unreachable by me, and yet this image of his reaching out to me, has stuck with me over the years.
 
Here is one of my favorite photos of my dad and me, dressed in costume for Amahl and the Night Visitors Christmas Pagant at the Cathedral in Faribault in 1961.  At age 14 I was now taller than my 6'3" father, and wore a hat from Pakistan that Ed Silvis brought back in 1959, prior to his traveling with the US Information Agency to other realms.

Another view of Marge Silvis in 1959 at the Congregational Church in Faribault.  I recall they spent a year in Abbottabad West Pakistan for a year in the late 1950's, and thus began their new career in the US Information Agency I was told. Their first assignment was in West Pakistan, and Ed, who was something like 6' 5" and Marge was nearly 6'1' I think, were quite the imposing pair. They brought back I lot of brass and copper things from Pakistan and had a reception at the Congregational Meeting place across from the Church where she directed the choir.


Marge, in the middle, displaying a lot of the things she and Ed brought back from West Pakistan at the 1959 reception at the Faribault Parish House of the Congregational Church.

Ed Silvis entertaining the Faribault crowd dressed in some sort of exotic head scarf.1959

Silvises and Weavers reconnect over the years.
1966 - 

 Here are the Silvi' as my father, who liked Latin and other languages, Marge and Ed with my father Paul H Weaver in the family sun porch in Faribault in Sept of 1966. Note the Cowles Family tree in the background. Ed was a speech teacher at Faribault High School and I considered the two of them to be the closest thing I had to an Uncle and Aunt. They left Faribault I think about 1961 or 62 to work for the US Informatiion Agency. Thus I missed having Marge as my High School Choral teacher, although she had a great influence on me and my interest in singing at an early age.

Ed and Marge Silvis in the Weaver kitchen in Faribault, dated Sept 13, 1966.
 
Peg Weaver and Ed Silvis - Weaver Kitchen Sept 1966 in Faribault. 
Labeled 1962, this looks like a Christmas Gathering with the Rev Van Kirk  family.  The Van Kirk's were at the Congregational church and Marjorie Silvis on the left, next to Wayne Van Kirk, then Peg Weaver, my mom, ?_____? Ed Silvis in the plaid shirt, perhaps Mrs Van Kirk? and my dad, "Pete" Paul H Weaver in the background.


 The Congo, Congregational church is now a UCC named place and a few years back I went there for a Christmas Service and my friend Rev Tom George was accepted by the parish as an openly Gay Clergy in Faribault. Something I enjoyed celebrating with Tom and other folks I saw in Faribault including the Gagnon family that purchased the Family Home pictured here, at 425 SW 3rd St.


Later, this time in 1978, Ed and Marge would come back to Minnesota to visit. Here they are with Peg at Pelican Lake. Ed was from Grand Rapids and Marge from the Cities, where the Swedish Hognander Family had been influential in Minnehaha Acedemy as I recall. Very much the acedemic types and stayed with the US Government Services. I visited her church in McLeanVA and sang in her choir when John Sonnenday a Carleton Grad was the minister there, back in the day.

Her obit: SILVIS MARJORIE HOGNANDER SILVIS (Age 92) Of Greenspring Village, VA on Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at Renaissance Gardens. Beloved wife of the late Edward A. Silvis; aunt of Joe Hognander and Timothy Olmstead and great-aunt of Jason Sandeen. Memorial services will be held at Immanuel Presbyterian Church at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 1125 Savile Lane, McLean, VA 22101.
Washington Post
www.legacy.com/obituaries/washingtonpost/obituary.aspx?n=marjorie-h-silvis&pid=144990073

 
1952 Faribault Daily News Marjorie Hognander Silvis, Al Ochs, Peg Weaver, Brad Craig and Virginia Sartor, with the kick off for the Civic Music Society fund raiser, where my mom, and Marj Silvis worked together in the membership drive.    I remember the Silvis's were very regular visitors at our home, they played bridge with my parents, and created a skit using the tape recorder in front of them and made up tunes for "Billy's Buttered Biscuits" a satire that might have made it onto Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion, had that been an option in those times.  :-)

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