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Frances Caspari
 

The following is taken from pages 9 of the 60th Anniversary Issue of Pan Pipes, published in May 1964 by Sigma Alpha Iota.

Frances Caspari

"Caspari Sings Tonight." Large banners on the sides of the New York City street cars. The event - Frances Caspari's appearance as soloist in the premiere performance in the big city of "Quo Vadis." Where? - in Carnegie Hall with the Catholic Oratorio Society in the work by the Polish Composer Felix Novovieska. He had come from Poland to direct the performance supported by the combined New York Symphony and Walter Damrosch Orchestras.

Caspari's nine years in New York City had been highly successful ones. She went there in 1907 at the advice of Madame Schumann-Heink who had heard her sing in Ann Arbor when Schumann-Heink appeared there at the famous May Festival. Schumann-Heink also guided her to her first New York teacher, Harriet Ware. It was Harriet Ware who assisted her in securing the position of soprano soloist in the Old Brick Presbyterian Church at 37th and 55th Streets. The New York years became filled with teaching, concertizing, church solo positions and artist performances.

Born in Ann Arbor, Frances' first studies began at the age of 12 at St. Mary's Academy in Monroe, Michigan. In 1900 she went to Pittsburgh where she studied with John Dennis Mehan. While there she was soloist at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral.

Returning to her home city, Frances studied with Dr. Willis before entering the University School of Music. She sang in the Choral Union before matriculating at the University and later became its first Soprano for seven years. In the meantime Frances helped organize Sigma Alpha Iota in 1903 and two years later graduated from the School of Music.

Following her nine years stay in New York City - 1907-1916, Frances returned to Ann Arbor and maintained her own studio there and also one in Detroit. She accepted a position as soloist and choir director of a choir of mixed voices and a boy's choir of 40 in St. Thomas Church.

In 1929, it was necessary for Frances to retire because of ill health. A long-remembered day for four of our Founders, Elizabeth, Nora, Georgina, and Minnie, and three National Officers, Kathleen Davison, Edna Geimer, and Mildred Sale, was that of August 24, 1947. It was the memorable "Ann Arbor Day" of the Detroit National Convention. Preceding the events of the day, the seven went to visit Frances in her home, spending a happy hour with her and presenting her with the Ring of Excellence. Delegates and officers had an inspiring day in the city of our Founding, with the richness of a Carillon Tour, dignified Ritual, Fraternity Fellowship at the Luncheon, the famous "Foundation Rides" and the Traditional Vesper Musicale.

Just a brief year and a half had passed and on December 15, 1948, Sigma Alpha Iota lost its lovely artist and Founder, Frances Caspari.

 

 

 

Elizabeth A. Campbell | Frances Caspari | Minnie Davis Sherrill | Leila H. Farlin | Nora Crane Hunt | Georgina Potts | Mary Storrs Andersen

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