I moved to the Bay Area in 1966 and landed a job with the US Forest Service in Berkeley. A co-worker introduced me to the musical group, which was directed by a man with the most beautiful bass voice (Eugene Jones)…the group was to become the BCC. It was a much smaller group than today. One woman, that stands out in my mind, was a mature woman who’s wardrobe consisted of one color…. purple. It was a good size wardrobe but always the color purple. Every time I wear the color I think of her. Unfortunately I do not remember her name.
One of the concert selections was the Kyrie Eleison from Joseph Haydn’s The Imperial Mass. There were several high notes for the Soprano’s. Mr. Jones’ solution to hitting high notes was to “pinch the 50 cent piece” (imagine putting a coin between the butt cheeks and squeeze) to support the high notes.
Due to a personal decision I left the group until the middle 1980’s under the direction of Arlene Sagan. I was with the BCCO until the mid 1990’s. After several weeks of rehearsals another Soprano came up to me and said that she thought that we lived close to one another and maybe we could car pool. Kitty Lindow became my best friend and has been so for over 30 years. I have furnished the Story Board with a picture from 1994 of Monica Clark, Kitty Lindow and myself taken at a break at one of the concerts. During this time I also participated in the small group, which rehearsed at Arlene’s home. The living room was a library (a little messy) of music.
In 1996 I started a career with the City of Oakland. I asked my co-workers if the City did anything special for the holidays and no one could confirm any particular activity. I was located in 250 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza and one day I walked into City Eugene Jones. Mr. Jones had been a fireman, with the City of Oakland, for most of his working life, and sang at many official activities for the City as well as directing the holiday choir of City employees and retirees (also included the Port of Oakland). Mr. Jones had to leave the choir due to health issues. A few years later, at one of our concerts while I was singing a solo, I recognized Mr. Jones sitting in the audience. I left the choir and walked down to Mr. Jones and invited him to join the choir and conduct the Hallelujah Chorus. His face came alive and performed as he had done so many years as our conductor. This may have been his last conducting experience as he passed away soon after. I have been singing with this choir since 1997.
Again I had to leave BCCO in the mid 1990’s. Early 2000 I joined the Rockridge Choral Group. Two women came up to me and said that they thought that they knew me. It turns out that they were in the BCCO and were there when I attended. They recommended that I again apply to become a member of BCCO but that there was a waiting list and I would have to wait for an opening.
Well, 2015 I received an invitation to join BCCO and I hope to spend many years with them. You not only learn techniques in singing but also make many friends and some of them very close friends for years. I have also had the privilege of singing under the direction of all three conductors.