Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Some Side Stories about the Civic Chorale (III)

This story is about Kenton Coe, an internationally- known composer, who came to live in Johnson City and was active in many aspects of the arts and music in the city. The Civic Chorale performed some of his works and I am giving you one example below. The top picture appeared on the cover of our concert program. You can see that "The Light in This Room" was the featured part of the concert. It was written by Kenton Coe and performed on October 19, 1986 by the Chorale. The complete program for the concert is in the second picture below; the chorale performed Coe's piece after the intermission. The third picture contains the Notes by Kenton Coe concerning the music.

Some Side Stories about the Civic Chorale (II)

In the early days of the Chorale concerts, the local news paper, the Johnson City Press Chronicle, usually asked a local musical specialist to write a concert review right afterwards. In particular, there was a couple who were often asked. They were Dr. John and Mrs Anne Dowd. He was the Chair of the Music Department at nearby Milligan College and she played with the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra and was a piano teacher who happened to be our children's first piano teacher. It was a very common routine then. Both Janice and I would read their reviews and we learned from their feedback. I am now posting here a couple of examples so you can appreciate their efforts:


Some Side Stories about the Civic Chorale (I)

There is a new web page now for the Civic Chorale (formerly known as the Johnson City Civic Chorale). The web page includes a write-up about the new fourth director of the Chorale and a brief  history of the organization. (See ) Since I know some detailed stories about the chorale, I would like to add them here before they get totally lost. In this post I will report the first story. The chorale was first started in 1973 by Robert LaPella, acting by himself, and primarily involved his students. It certainly was not registered in Tennessee as an "official" organization. It was not until a local attorney, Mr. John D. Goodin, talked to me about the process of obtaining tax-deductible status (which might encourage more donations) that I realized that the first step in the process required you to register the organization as "official" in the state. He offered to help us reach that goal and we started the application process in 1975. The next year I was elected as the chorale's first president and the organization was officially registered in Tennessee. I was asked by John to thank him by singing at his church on the Milligan Highway a few times. He even played the organ occasionally  while I sang. It was great fun!

John was shot in his office by a violent gunman several years later. It was a very sad end to his career!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Cabin was certainly Part of our Lives!

Yes, the cabin quickly became an important part of our lives when we lived in Tennessee! We did not mind the extra work to open up in the spring time and to winterize the place before the freezing temperatures arrived. Both Janice and I enjoyed this small place with our elders and our young generation on many, many occasions. From cooking in the kitchen to swimming in the water, we were every place on these beautiful six acres! We went there mostly, of course, in the summer months, but we did visit there in the winter as well. At those times we usually did not sleep there but went to cut firewood or check on things.  Pictures of the place in the fall and spring are below:

At other times of the year, the beauty of this cabin place varied according to the weather. For example, morning fogs or winter snow changed the outlook. I have two pictures below to show some of the variety. In the first one, if you examine it closely you can see the tall mountain behind the mists. This was not a picture easy to take as the scene changed continuously.

 When the snow came down in the winter time, it provided a totally different picture! We did not experience that as much as I would have liked to, but that is the way it went!!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

A very fast-moving event

Before the start of 1985-86 academic year, Janice and I were asked by Margaret's classmate Edith if she  could stay with us for the next school year, as her whole family was moving out of Johnson City to another state. Margaret had earlier talked to us about this possibility and seemed agreeable to the plan. Unfortunately, Margaret was away from home at camp at the time the decision had to be made. So we made the decision ourselves and Edith became part of our family for the next year. Most interestingly, we felt that the academic year went very quickly. Certainly we had more activities with more people! You can see some examples right at the beginning of the school year in our living room, from the following pictures:

There were a total of three students with Asian backgrounds in Margaret's class, but in Steven's class he was the only one. At the time there were no other students with Asian backgrounds in  the University School. When we look back at this year, we are generally very happy that Margaret had the experience to share her room with one of her friends! 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

My Belief in God changed very, very slowly!

My baptism took place in 1956, a very long time ago! (See for details.) I decided to be baptized because I liked "church music". Nothing moved my emotions more than church music! I was not worried, at the time, about whether I believed in the teachings of the Church. It was much later that I started to consider the concept of "faith in God" and to question whether or not I could believe in a Supreme Being. When I was in Taiwan, the choir was the only thing in the church in which I was interested. (Below is the first colored picture I have from that time.)
 My thinking about these issues changed gradually, and I drifted away from the teachings of the Church. I began to question the very existence of God. The Civic Chorale fulfilled my desire to sing beautiful music and I slowly changed my focus so that church music became less important. By the middle of the 1980s, I no longer believed much of what was said on the church podium. Singing in the Chorale widened my interst in the types of music which I could enjoy and I became more involved in the chorale activities. "Hiking" also brought fulfilment of my desire to become one with Nature! I came to the decision that "God" could be found in many places - or no place at all,  certainly not just only in a church, and that different people can come to different understandings of the nature of "God".

Friday, January 11, 2019

Remembering a very kind relative, Florence Crossland

There were quite a few events which occurred in our lives during 1985. Some were huge and complicated, including one big China trip which involved the whole family and which was reported separately elsewhere on the net. (Please see for details.) Here, today, I want to report on a "small" trip which we took to see one of our favorite relatives, Janice's aunt  Florence Crossland, whom we always called Aunt Flo. It turned out that that trip was the last one we took together to see her, as she passed away not too long afterwards. From time to time, even now, we think of her and remember the love and kindness which she always showed us. She is deeply missed. She participated in many activities with our family whenever we visited the Boston area. For example, when my Father came to visit Boston and the Cape in 1972, she greeted him warmly. The following pictures were the last two pictures taken with her during our visit in 1985. At that time she was living on the Cape with her daughter, Marjorie. She was very alert and certainly happy to see us! 

Janice wants to add a few details about Aunt Flo's life: She was the youngest sister of Janice's Grandmother. Part of a family with 9 children, they grew up in Truro, Nova Scotia, in Canada. They had an older sister Sarah, who became a Sister of Saint Joseph and taught first grade in Quincy, Massachusetts, for more than 40 years! Flo married William Crossland after she came to the U.S. They had only one daughter, Marjorie. Uncle Bill's work took him to various parts of the country. In 1942, when Janice was born, he was working in Tennessee, where Janice's Father was also working at the time, at Holston Defense since it was during the Second World War. Later Flo and Bill lived in Richland, Washington for several years. They eventually returned to the East Coast. Janice remembers visiting them in Holyoke, Massachusetts. She and her sister would take the train down from Winchester and stay for a few days. Aunt Flo always provided many wonderful activities for the 2 girls during their visits! Later, after they settled in Winchester, Janice and her family were able to see Flo and Bill frequently. Sadly, Uncle Bill passed away in 1963. For a while Aunt Flo lived in a home run by Catholic nuns. However, she later decided to live with Marjorie on Cape Cod.