Bruce's remarks at the end of the reunion.
Hi, you might remember me - if not - I’m the focus of the most often heard question at today’s reunion: What’s he like now?
But seriously folks - I have a lot of people to thank for getting this shindig off the ground.
Particularly the commitee heads who worked with me from the beginning: Barbara Livingston, Wade Noble, Jennifer Parlee, Dan Hogg, Lara Nowlan and Bonnie Vermuelen. The “find the missing singers” committee: included Michael Berton, Patti Thorpe, Shannon Bryant, Melissa Plagemann, Bobbi Bartle-Clar and Robert Kwan. // Out of a list of 430 singers since 1973, I have been in contact with 316. It’s been a fabulous trip down memory lane even before this reunion started. Thanks also to the local phoning committee including Lisa Shaw, Karian Brigidear, and Mareen Garry.
I’d like to ask all these people to please stand up for your acknowledgement.
It’s been a long and wonderful journey - literally and figuratively. I think my biggest regret is that I’m not very good with goodbyes and many of the greatest Chamber Singers have graduated and moved on without my being able to say goodbye and thankyou. I am also really sorry that my Chamber Singers before 1981 didn’t have a chance to experience a Thetis Island retreat and those before ‘87 didn’t get to go on an overseas concert tour. Just know that it was your efforts in establishing Chamber Singers as a serious performing group that ultimately made all that possible.
I can’t say what the best year was, they all seemed like the best. Every group brought its own joy and excitement for me. I will say that my happiest years at UVic. were the 4 years that Alexis was at the school with me.
My darkest moment - Prince George. ‘78 - when during a workshop with the Cantata Singers, someone handed me a note from the College organizer which said "I'm sorry, we couldn't find you any billets, but you'll find motels on Third Street."
Two of the hundreds of musical highs which stand out for me were:
The concert in Palo Alto with a choir that had just won the “Choir of the World” prize in LLangowellen, Wales. As Charles Barber later wrote, we blew them away.
Our University Centre performance of the most difficult and yet rewarding work I have ever conducted: Igor Stravinsky’s “Les Noces”
My favourite student quotes:
“Simon Leung’s immortal outburst after 4 years of being the polite asian immigrant: “Missa More - you a jerk!
James Patterson’s excuse for missing a rehearsal: I found a cat and didn’t know what to do with him. Several months later, James called again to say he couldn’t come to rehearsal because of a power outage..... This prompted Don MacDonald to suggest “Maybe he couldn’t plug in his cat”!
A few years ago as I was having a fit with the tenor section (a totally unusual event), not one of whom had come in on a very clear cue- I said “for god sake, sing something” - Isaiah’s response was “tomorrow, tomorrow”.
My favourite comment to a student after being told 2 minutes before the concert that he had left his tux on the bus - I said - Oh Murray, how could you - he responded with “I’ve never done it before” and I said “You know Murray, most people go an entire career without leaving their tux on the bus.
Beth Whitmore’s comment as she was being picked up by a host in New Zealand, in response to the host pointing out that no women sang in the Cathedral Choir - “That’s kind of stupid isn’t it!.
My favourite in rehearsal Whimoreism - after having made a mistake and saying “I’m sorry, I feel like a complete idiot” Beth pointed out - but Bruce, you are a complete idiot.
Again in New Zealand, at a particularly spectacular beach, we decided to take a group photo, but we couldn’t find a camera. At that point Asako Shimizu pulled a camera out of her pocket saying “sometimes it’s great being Japanese”.
And then there were the student evaluations forms:
My favourties were:
“His sense of humour has yet to be understood by all”.
“ His dog humped my leg”
“ He’s not exactly my image of a university professor” Whoever wrote that, Thankyou - it’s just about the nicest thing anyone’s ever said about me.
So where do we go from here? I have one more year with both my choirs and then I am fully retired. Connie is planning to retire at the same time. We don’t intend to buy the trailer in Desert Hot Springs or play the piano at the rest home....yet. 3 years ago, Connie and I spent the Fall in South Africa and had one of the most wonderful experiences of our lives, just the two of us, tooling around in little car from white ciy to black township, hearing some of the most exciting choral singing imagineable. We’ll do lots more of that kind of travelling. Who knows, Connie might teach a course in Rock and Roll for the Choral Singer and I might teach a course in anger management.......
In closing, I want to offer a plea to you all. Don’t forget us. Send us e-mails about what you’re up to. Even though we were blessed by such a wonderful daughter, you are our family. I’m going to write a book about the Chamber Singers - you could help immensely by sending me any anecdotes or memories of your time with our group. I wish you all happy lives and fulfilling careers. Most of all, I wish you a partner as wonderful as Connie
has been for almost 40 years.
How do I sum it all up - the word that comes to mind is Love. I loved you all (some more than others), but anyone who endured me for a year became a very special person to me and my heart will always warm with the incredible memories.