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Classically Speaking

Classical music in West Virginia and Beyond

A Musical Connection

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · February 1, 2010

Congratulations and thank you for meeting the Chocolate Challenge, by helping West Virginia Public Radio reach our fundraising goal a day early!  Friday night, right before we reached the goal, I learned about a neat musical story.  

Tom Burger, who in 1974 was the first Charleston producer for public radio, returned to the air to help out with fund drive Friday night.  His wife Bettijane and daughter Renee were helping out by answering phones, while the volunteers were being coordinated by Renee’s husband, Todd Frymyer, who works here at WV Public Broadcasting in the development department. 

During a brief lull in the calls, Bettijane told me a story about one of their musical relatives:

My aunt, the late Esther Dickey of Georgia, was the oldest surviving alumna of Eastman School of Music when she died at the age of 97 a few years ago. At 97, she was still playing the piano for her retirement community and by ear! Esther was a classmate of composer and conductor Frederick Fennell, and her diploma was signed by composer Howard Hanson. 

The family has kept that diploma under glass, and Bettijane very kindly agreed to share a picture of it with me:


Esther Eastman Diploma
The Diploma

You can also see Howard Hanson’s signature up close:


Howard Hanson Signature
Howard Hanson's Signature

From Bettijane's description and from what I've read online, Esther was a remarkable woman.  Hearing about her and seeing these pictures of her diploma has had me thinking about music history and personal connections. It's special, even if I can't quite put together the right words to describe why I'm now so drawn to this story. I just know that I wanted to share some of her story, and these pictures, with others who might interested too.

WV Classical Calendar -- February 2010

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By Mona Seghatoleslami
 · February 1, 2010

Feb 12-13: WV Symphony with Mark McVey “A Night on Broadway”

Feb 13: Rumplestiltzkin: Straw Into Gold (WV Symphony Family Concert)

Feb 13: Huntington Symphony “Dreams of America”

Feb 13: Connie Edwards, bassoon; Patrick Joyce, guitar (Fairmont State University Faculty Recital)

Feb 13: ArtsGive: Fundraiser for Haiti Relief (WVU)

Feb 14: Opera in Cinema: Otello (Huntington, Charleston, Beckley)

Feb 14: Marshall University Opera Workshop

Feb 17: Wendell Dobbs, flute (interview); Branita Holbrook-Bratka, voice (Marshall University Faculty Recital)

Feb 17: Scott Beard, piano “The Music of Frédéric Chopin and Theodor Leschetizky” (WVU/MTNA Guest Artist Recital)

Feb 18: Gerald Lee, Piano (West Liberty University Faculty Recital)

Feb 19: Wheeling Symphony “Baroque Jewels”

Feb 19: Shepherd University Wind Ensemble

Feb 21: River Cities Symphony and Marietta College Chorus with Andrea DiGregorio, cello (Parkersburg)

Feb 21: Geoffrey Thomas, “Haydn Sonatas and Stories” (Fairmont Chamber Music Society)

Feb 21: Concord University Composers

Feb 21: WVU Choral Concert, Mozart’s Requiem

Feb 21: Garth Newel Piano Quartet (interview) (Carnegie Hall Lewisburg)

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