Monday, March 28, 2011

Music and Culture - Silvis Energy with Weaver and Larsen Families in 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, as 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.."

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.

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. The Congo, 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 McLean
VA 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

No comments:

Post a Comment