History of the Spicer College Choir
The Spicer English Choir was first organized by R. S. Lowry in 1944 with sixteen members. He was followed by conductors L. J. Larson, and E. L. Sorenson. Mrs D. G. Bower led the choir from 1948-1953 and Mrs Evangeline (H.H.) Mattision conducted the choir for one semester in 1953. Neville O. Mathews conducted the choir from 1953-1954. Mrs Eldine Frederick directed from 1955 till Linwood Burns took over in 1956. Burns formed a special Spicer College Symphonic Choir which performed several Cantatas such as Caleb Simper’s “Rolling Seasons,” and Handel’s “Messiah,” which was sponsored by the Poona Music Society at the Gulati Hall in 1959. Mrs Phyllis Bonney who had received a silver cup and shield for scoring the highest in India for the licentiate certificate from Trinity College conducted the choir from 1960-1963 during which time the choir performed the Cantata “Ruth” by R. Gaul, the “Holy City” by Alfred Gaul, and “Olivet to Calvary” by J. H. Maunder. Stella Prasada Rao often assisted as accompanist. The Spicer College Symphonic choir performed several times at the Gulati Hall accompanied by the orchestra of the Poona Music Society. The church choir, a separate group, was during some of these years conducted by L. J. Larsen.
Dr George Jenson took over the choir in 1964. Jenson also started a smaller Advanced choir with forty members, and a Motet with sixteen select voices. He also built up a substantial library of choir music. During his absence John Truscott conducted the choir from 1970-1971. Upon his return, Jenson led the choir in performances of Handel’s Messiah in Calcutta and Delhi in 1972. Mrs Jenson and Parul Pandit served as accompanists for the choir. in 1974 the choir performed for a Christmas programme on Doordarshan. The George Jensons left in 1975 and were replaced by his brother Gordon Jenson who directed the choir while his wife accompanied at the piano. While the Jensons were on furlough in 1981-1982 the choir was directed by Gordon Christo and accompanied by Mrs Lalkaka. When the Jensons returned they led the choir on a major tour of South India in November 1983, traveling to Bangalore, Vellore, Madras, Ernakulam, Thiruvala, and Kottarakara.
The Spicer College Department of Occidental Music
Courses in piano were first offered by Mrs N. O. Mathews during 1946-1954, and next by Mrs Elaine Burns. Courses in vocal music were first offered by Mrs D. G. Bower in 1947 The Music Department was organized first in 1958 with Mrs Elaine Burns as head and teaching courses in piano. Her husband Linwood Burns taught courses in voice. The department was renamed Western Music Department around 1961 when an Indian Music Department was organized under the leadership of G. R. Daniel.
Mrs Phyllis Bonney took over as head of the department in 1960 and introduced new courses in voice. That year the new college auditorium was completed and the basement rooms housed the Western Music Department. The first room had a grand piano and was used for choir rehearsals and for classes in music. Two small rooms were for piano practice, and the final room served as a walk-in closet to hang choir robes. The Indian Music department moved to a room high up above the chapel. The Department of Western Music then began offering music as a minor field of study. Edwin Appudoray graduated in 1966 with a minor in voice. In 1963 the department added Mrs Johnson and Mrs Roe as additional teacher s and began offering music as a major. Evangeline Pingho graduated in 1970 with a major in music.
In 1968 the Western Music Department was renamed the Department of Occidental Music.