Readers interested in knowing more about the Haitian plight and the challenges faced by a U.S. nonprofit while attempting to help Haiti will benefit from reading Haiti will break your heart Promises Made Promises Broken. During Wood for Haiti’s (WFH) effort, author Dr. Gary Funk kept a journal. His journal contained letters written by Haitians and advice from experts about how to negotiate the challenges faced when dealing with the Haitian and U.S. bureaucracies. While providing a look inside the nonprofit organization, the book shares a great deal about Haiti’s history, culture, and people and presents a no-holds-barred look at the difficulties in dealing with Haitian corruption, the profit motives of U.S. corporate philanthropy, and the political motivations of both the U.S. and Haitian governments. The progress WFH hoped to make was dependent to a great degree upon surmounting many barriers including the overwhelming role that poverty played in Haitian daily life. We worked tirelessly and closely with our Haitian partners to lay the groundwork for a major rebuild of Haiti using beetle-killed wood from the northwest U.S. We faced difficult challenges in working with USAID while attempting to convince U.S. businesses to support our project. The most significant challenge, however, involved dealing with the unstable, ever-changing Government of Haiti and greed and corruption among one of WFH’s Haitian partner organizations. During first several years of our work, the powerful negative forces did not diminish our efforts. Immense barriers were thrust in our path that thwarted our ability to raise the necessary financial support. As a result, WFH’s Board of Directors finally determined in 2014 that it had exhausted itself and voted to disband the organization. As Mark Johnson, former Ambassador to Kuwait, predicted early in our project’s development, "Haiti will break your heart!" And....it surely did the author’s. Every effort was made to live up to a promise made to Haitian people. Making the decision to break that promise to them "...not to give up on Haiti" weighs heavily on Funk’s heart. In fact, however, Funk has never forgotten Haiti and has often worried that the lives and reputations of the dedicated Haitian leaders who put their confidence in WFH had been put into peril. He was greatly saddened that better security and stability for Haitians was not achieved by building good WFH homes for thousands of Haitian families. Order a copy of Haiti will break your heart Promises Made Promises Broken.
Chapter I: Welcome to Haiti
Chapter II: Setting the Stage for Wood for Haiti
Chapter III: 2011
Chapter IV: 2012
Chapter V: 2013
Chapter VI; Delaying the Inevitable
Appendix I1 Architectural Drawings of Government of Haiti's Center for Homeless Children
Appendix 2: Proposal to USAID (condensed)
Appendix 3: Letters of Commendation and Support
Appendix 4: Haitian Letters of Need
Haiti will break your heart Promises Made Promises Broken – Dr.Gary Funk’s odyssey in Haiti was filled with courage, perseverance, hope and optimism but it wasn’t enough. His vision and purpose at a time when the country was navigating its recovery after a devastating earthquake found him searching for a local champion to implement community housing which was a dire need. Undeterred by the obstacles, Gary chronicled what he encountered and observed across the country in this book, which is not a criticism, but a powerful statement with useful takeaways for the development community.
– Mark D’Sa, Senior Advisor, Caracol Industrial Park, North Eastern Haiti, Retired
Haiti will break your heart Promises Made Promises Broken tells the amazing story of ordinary citizens reaching across cultural, geographic, and political divides to tackle the humanitarian crisis in Haiti in the aftermath of a devasting earthquake. Dr. Funk’s insider perspective and front-row-seat on the founding of Wood for Haiti among the residents of Montana who were moved to action as Dr. Funk helped them connect their own lives and hearts to the people of Haiti in spite of 3,000 miles of separation, is an uplifting story in its own right. It is also a reminder for the international aid community that love, inspiration, and selfless leadership can bring out the best in everyday people everywhere. Kudos to Dr. Funk and to the Wood for Haiti team for their amazing effort and for reaching across those divides, joining hands with everyday people in Haiti. Those average citizens came close to doing what no government and no aid organization ever managed to do.
– Jules Radcliff, U.S. business lawyer, and government consultant in international missions
Haiti will break your heart Promises Made Promises Broken has its genesis in a short period of a few years of hope for Haiti that was snatched away in a brief violent moment in January 2010. The results of so much dedicated effort by all and the green shoots of success gained were gone and the misery returned. The great significance of that period of hope is to understand and acknowledge that peace and prosperity are possible to achieve for Haiti. Dr. Gary Funk has expertly captured the satisfaction and frustration of that time as everyone tried to redress the loss. His efforts deserve acclaim.
– Richard Warren, Former Deputy Police Commissioner for PNH Development, 2006-2009
"Haiti will break your heart" is a full-color, 500 + page book that shares five years of the author's journals. Subchapter titles include, among others: Consequences of caring, The perils of indifference, The space between saying and doing, Blan, jealousy, gangs and murder, Haiti's hunger game, and Today is just like yesterday!. It is the story of vision, collaboration, dedication and failure.
The Vienna Experience 1980-2006 chronicles the history of this international, semester-abroad, music program offered by The University of Montana. Donald Carey founded and led the program for 12 years. Gary Funk directed the Vienna Experience from 1997-2006. An estimated 300 undergraduate and graduate students were in residence in Vienna for 3-4 months at a time. During those experiences, students studied academic courses, performed concerts as members of the Chamber Chorale in Vienna's major concert venues and in surrounding countries, and learned greatly from just "being in Vienna". The 228 page book includes over 200 photos and details how the program is structured and how it evolved over its history. Responses to a survey of students helped to show in what ways the VE influenced and shaped the lives of its participants.
Chapter I: The Seeds of the Vienna Experience
Chapter II: You're a Long Way from Big Timber
Chapter III: Passing the Baton
Chapter IV: The Vienna Experience
• Where did we go?
• What art did we see?
• Why did we dance?
• Where did we sing?
• Who taught the courses?
Chapter V: How Were the Student's lives Altered?
Chapter VI: What does Exposure to the arts Achieve?
Chapter VII: What was it all about?
The city of Vienna was our classroom, and we learned more by just trying to get to our scheduled scholastic studies than we ever did in the four-walled rooms once we got there. That’s not to say that our classes weren’t good, but they served mainly as tools to help us with our real education, which was everyday life. Of course, that’s the way the program was designed – to make use of the rich surroundings. So, we did – especially in our Art History class, which met each time in a different museum. . . . My spring in Vienna was an addicting saturation in art….I thank God, my parents and you – for giving me the chance to have felt beauty, and for the sense enough to cry when it’s gone
– Laura Harrawood, 1983
I could make the argument that nearly everything in my life at this time came as a result of this experience.
– Brett Benge, 2000
It was the single most inspiring moment in my education. It inspired me to be a professional composer and musician. Hearing the Vienna Philharmonic and meeting internationally-renowned composers was the spark that lit my passion on fire –– it still burns, and it has never dimmed.
– Christopher Stark, 2003
The greatest influence the Vienna Experience had on my teaching philosophy is that a person’s learning is richer and more long-lasting if their learning experience was holistic, so I now always include the arts, history, and even ethics in my teaching….Realizing that this was possible changed my life and gave me hope for humanity.
– Elizabeth Belz, 2006
The program’s greatest asset was the outstanding vocal schooling provided by Donald Carey and Gary Funk whose excellent skills developed fundamental breathing technique, bright sounding sopranos, sonorous basses, homogeneity of parts, delicately balanced dynamics and a transparent design in polyphonic structures of various styles and repertoire.
– Friedrich Lessky, Director, Musikgymnasium der Stadt Wien
The Vienna Experience provided the young people with all the inevitable skills/abilities to become better singers as well as human beings: profound technique, flexible musical design of all styles and genres and above all enthusiastic commitment to reach out to and touch the souls of people.
– Mag. Georg Kugi, Conductor, Donau Philharmonie
The concerts of the Chamber Choir of the University of Montana over the many years of the program are among the most impressive experiences and encounters with young singers from abroad.
– Herbert Wild, Honorable President, Choir Association of Austria
The Vienna Experience is one of the most remarkable programs I have ever encountered in my long academic career.
– Frederick Skinner, Professor Emeritus of History, University of Montana
The Academy is a utopian educational institution that is defined by the qualities of those who teach and study there, what is taught, how and why.
The story involves a character that visits “The Great City”. On his way to attend a performance of the Tchaikovsky "Violin Concerto" in the old city, he happens upon a street performance of Bach presented by an elderly woman – a wonderful violinist. He resumes his walk to the concert for which he has already purchased a ticket. Nearing the site of the concert, he hears the sounds of another violin in the distance issuing out the windows of a small church. He decides spontaneously to forsake the Tchaikovsky performance in favor of the violinist playing in the small church. Powerfully moved by that performance, he hears about a place of learning called "The Academy".
He crosses from the church into a large campus area, the center of which is a pond surrounded by evenly spaced statues and plaques dedicated to former professors at The Academy. He enters an auditorium in which he observes an extraordinary rehearsal of Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms. Afterwards, the visitor talks with one of the instrumentalists about The Academy and is subsequently invited to attend an aesthetics class to get a “taste” of what The Academy is all about.
The guest observes a provocative discussion that is led by a highly respected Professor who just happens to be the same woman – the old violinist on the street – whose performance of Bach had so captured him the evening before.
A powerful exchange among the class participants is witnessed that centers on the power of the arts to express the inexpressible. The guest is invited to meet a few of The Academy’s students for lunch at a local restaurant. After an inspiring discussion with the students about what they find to be so compelling about The Academy, the guest follows them to a choir rehearsal. The rehearsal is extraordinary because of its novel pedagogy. The teaching approach leads the students profoundly into the music they are singing.
The choir director provides the guest with directions to Hugner’s, a local pub, where he has the opportunity to engage with several of the faculty who traditionally gather for the once-a-week seminar.
Over a few beers, the professors present the philosophy of The Academy as Art, itself. The philosophy is cultivated and ensured by arranging for enriching experiences that expect and demand deep student and faculty participation in the Art of teaching and learning.
The Academy instills, inspires and teaches great thought and thinking. Masterworks of music, literature, art, architecture and philosophy are the instructors, taking the students into themselves.
Six principles of Art govern The Academy: dominance, movement, harmony, contrast, balance and form. These principles are integrated throughout the curriculum in such a way that students travel through Art on a daily basis – live through Art.
The guest learns that The Academy is place where every course is a music course, where every course is an aesthetics class and every course is a history course, etc. The mission of The Academy is to teach students to live life artfully. Simply “being there” in that Great City and learning at The Academy and not somewhere else is critical to achieving that goal.
Everything about The Academy – from the campus design to the beauty of the buildings in which the students learn, from the remarkable sculpts, paintings and tapestries that students pass by daily to every course of study, from every student to every faculty member – everything is artfully selected, conceived and presented.
As one of the Academy professors stated:
"When the composer purifies to the essentials of beautiful melody, refines to the elements of critical harmony, thickens and thins to the living body chiseled out of all that which is possible by the dynamics of texture, and movement of rhythm, a structure is enshrined to unchain beauty. Students may then seek to compose their own lives by purifying the themes of their lives, refining to living in harmonious relationships, chiseling that away which is not important in order to create a living form that is beautiful, virtuous, and good. We work toward the integrated self – the integrated musician."
THE ACADEMY is a 41-page piece of fiction that describes a utopian school. It is available for purchase for $19.95. THE ACADEMY is an excerpt from the Funk brother's other book DEAR GARY DEAR GARY that lays out the current state of affairs at U.S. institutions of higher education, the state of the Arts versus "pop" culture and the influences upon society. Chapter X THE ACADEMY responds to those concerns with solutions presented in descriptions of a utopian school called THE ACADEMY
The Great City 5
The Concert 7
The Musician 8
The Garden 8
The Rehearsal 10
The Library 12
The Aesthetics Class 12
The Students 21
The Choir Rehearsal 24
The Faculty 27
The Authors 41
Dear Gary; Dear Eric is a journal of email exchanges between two brothers who are also university music professors and composers. Readers eavesdrop on the brothers’ private dialogue providing an opportunity for observers to respond to no-holds barred, controversial and often quite personal conversations between that share an unconditional passion for education and the arts. What they say is made valuable by their writing it to one another with sheer honesty and passionate idealism. This is a sincere attempt to exchange ideas that are at times provocative, freely indicting existing conditions, the prevalent imbalance between the business of and the art of everything – increasing the distance between, for example, healing and medicine, justice and law, spirituality and religion, learning and education – confusion between art and entertainment in Western culture, and misdirected processes.
The manuscript is an exposé of problems commonly found on U.S. campuses that are well known to the professorate but rarely discussed publicly. Because the authors are both music professors, they focus on problems common to university music schools. What is written, however, defines concerns found among disciplines on any campus for the issues raised are systemic.
The brothers describe how higher education has evolved over the past 30 years as the result of socio-economic pressures too powerful for the universities and colleges to resist. The authors delve deeply into how quality music is composed, how and what great music communicates. Faculty must restrict themselves and therefore their students to intensive engagements with humankind’s best ideas, music, art and thought. There is much, however, about which the authors don’t agree. Their heated debates on controversial topics invite readers to initiate thoughtful conversations about the questions raised.
The book concludes with The Academy – a utopian educational institution that properly defines the qualities of those who teach and study, what is taught, how and why.
Chapter I: How We Lost Our Way
Chapter II: Kunst mit Kern
Chapter III: Where Do We Begin?
Chapter IV: Unraveling Music’s Mystery
Chapter V: The Power of Bach
Chapter VI: Product versus Process
Chapter VII: Can Interaction with Music Affect Human Values?
Chapter VIII: Not Every Stone is a Jewel!
Chapter IX: Pushing to the Center
Chapter X: The Academy
The Funk brothers first describe how higher education has evolved over the past 30 years as the result of socio-economic pressures too powerful for universities and colleges to resist. Secondly, the writers delve into how quality music is composed, how and what great music communicates and why it is critical that university faculty discipline themselves to be academically responsible by restricting themselves and their students to intensive engagements with humankind's best ideas, music, art and thought. The authors debate whether or not significant encounters with great art, music painting, dance, sculpture and literature can influence the ethical standards by which people choose to live. To conclude the book, the brothers present the ideal Academy in the form of a fable that defines the qualities of those who teach and learn at the Academy, what is taught there, how and why and the Academy's mission.
Dialogues on Singing Technique is a remarkably novel and instructive study of how to teach voice effectively to students of all singing levels and experience. Student-specific pedagogies are presented herein through the provision of insights about how voice students actually think about singing and about the important role that singing plays in their lives.
These lesson dialogues remind voice teachers that it is critical to work interactively with students, to be positive and patient as they embark, together with their students, on journeys to realize the beauty of the singing voice
Chapter I: Singing and Beauty
Chapter II: Vowels: The Singer's Paints
Chapter III: Resonance: 3-D Sound
Chapter IV: Breath: Engine of the Voice
Chapter V: Consonants: Boundaries of Words
Chapter VI: Compelling Singing
Chapter VII: A Special Case
Our Cathedral of Sound
The Stradivarius Throat
Upgrading the Vocal Operating System
Spoken Vowels versus Sung Vowels
Creating a Family of Vowels
Beauty is in the Ear of the Beholder
Creating a More Complete Sound
Vibrato: Making the Voice Sparkle
Breath as Inspiration
Vocal Fragility and Breath
Consonants and Articulation of Drama
Every Song is About You
I Can't Sing in Tune
Singing Secrets and Grandma’s Cake
It is simply not enough to sing the correct pitches and rhythms, to implement excellent articulation and good pronunciation while producing a beautiful vocal tone. These essential components are the most obvious and basic ingredients but are only part of the recipe for creating a compelling, inspiring vocal performance.
It is something other than that – when done well – that lifts a song into the irresistible realm.
That something elseis analogous to gaining access to Grandma’s special ability to bake the most delicious cakes. What she does when she cooks – in her mysterious ways – goes beyond the recipe and makes the difference between the taste of cakes made from packaged cakes and Grandma’s delicacies.
Granddaughter: What do you do, Grandma, to make your cakes taste so different from the cakes that I make? I use the exact ingredients in your written recipe and bake the cake for precisely the right amount of time. Yet my cake is not as scrumptious as yours. Am I missing something?”
Grandma: (with a twinkle in her eye) It’s not about following the recipe. To learn to make a cake you must make the cake with me. If you are willing to do that and have the patience to participate and watch carefully, you will learn to make your Grandma’s cake.
Granddaughter: So…. even if I follow your recipe exactly as you have written it out I will not be able to make the cake I am hoping to make.
Grandma: The secret to making my cake resides in how, when and why I put the ingredients together. You see, I don’t actually measure the ingredients. I just know how much of this or that is required. I know when the mix is ready, when it looks right, tastes perfect and smells just right before the next ingredient can be added. Baking a great cake is a very subtle thing. Every step and the timing are important.
Granddaughter: Well, I am entirely engaged because, no matter what I’ve done in the past, the cakes I make look like cakes and taste like cakes and smell like cakes but they are not my Grandma's cake. I am all ears.”
Grandma: I learned to make a cake by sitting in the kitchen, as a child, and observing my own mother make many cakes over the years. It was a fascinating culinary education that taught me not only about baking a cake but also how it is that I ought to learn the Art of anything. It was much like an apprenticeship. At the time it was with such great pleasure that I not only watched what my mother did but also observed the joy in her eyes as she prepared this temporary art for consumption merely for the simple reward of making something unforgettably good for the family to eat.
Granddaughter: That is so true. We want things immediately these days because everything moves so fast and time is so precious. We often shortcut the processes by making packaged cakes. We would rather do the quick thing than take the time to make a cake from scratch ourselves.
Baking a cake the long way means purchasing all of the ingredients, dirtying up all sorts of dishes and utensils, but it is your processthat I want to learn.”
Grandma: I don’t view making a cake as a process as such. I mean, for me, cooking is an act of love. Love is the most important ingredient in making a delicious cake.
Granddaughter: That’s a beautiful way to put it.
Grandma: I want to teach you how to put love into your recipe. That is one of the great secrets to baking my cake. It has to do with caring about the quality of every moment of preparation. Caring is critical!
There is a nurturing quality to baking a cake. They aren’t processes or acts or even abilities. Making a great cake can be learned by almost everyone if the will and patience are present. Are you ready to begin?”
Granddaughter: Let’s do it!
Grandma: First of all, don’t write anything down. Put your pencil and tablet away dear. Just watch my hands. Notice how they move. Observe how I walk, how I hold the spoon and ladle. Look at my face when I taste the mix along the way. You will taste it too and sample it again along the way.
Memorize what the mix looks like, its aroma, its texture, how it rolls off of the spoon at certain points in time. Is the mix runny? Is it thick? Memorize its texture and how it tastes. This is all part of learning to love to cook. We are, by the manner of our cooking, expressing our love for our children and everyone who will enjoy the cake later on.
Granddaughter: I have always thought about making a cake as a tedious process that led to a product that satisfies the palate after supper.
Grandma: Love is never tedious, but it does require concentration, flexibility, commitment and patience. The cake, itself, is not the goal. It is the look in your children's eyes when they taste that first morsel.
To understand the secret ingredient to cooking Grandma’s cake is to understand the purpose of making the cake in the first place. It wasn’t what was in her written recipe that made her cake taste so wonderful. It was what wasn’t written in her recipe. That something about Grandma’s cake that is really mystical and transcendental in character.
The secret ingredient to learning to sing beautifully is similar to learning to bake Grandma’s wonderful cake. The secret isn’t found in the recipe of the printed page of music. The secret resides in understanding why it is that we sing in the first place. It is not for the applause that we ought to sing. Applause or standing ovations are not the goals of performing a song. Singing is not about the singer but about the music and those who listen.
Singing is about love – love of life, of beauty and of others. It is about the feeling put into the singing that elicits a response from those who listen.
One of the secrets for great singing is revealed when singers recognize and commit themselves to the critical importance of the obligation to serve the Art. This responsibility involves seeking to align deeply with the composer’s intent to express something worth expressing. The singing of a song takes the listener into the song – not into the singer – into the song's text, its melodic arches, rich harmonies and the supportive accompanying material.
The goal of singing is the look in the listeners’ eyes that reflect – mid-song – that a listener has been captured by the turn of a particular phrase, was moved to feel something other than what he felt before hearing the song. The listener's face manifests that she has been pulled into the deeper tastes of the melody that was presented in such a way that a sincere bond is galvanized between the song and the listener about life’s moments perhaps forgotten.
A singer aims to share with an audience the presentation of honest, open and vulnerable performances despite the fact that the songs' contents are too private to express, too close to the heart to reveal and too personal to put out into the air for perception. Yet, artist-singers willingly unchain the hearts of their voices to venture into those intimate regions.
The result is compelling because audience members long to take a journey into places common to us all. These human commonplaces are what join us as a community. We have all experienced them, felt them and remember them. It is when those commonplaces are revealed in song that listeners may experience themselvesmore intimately and begin to understand more clearly what those moments meant to them.
How singers make themselves receptive to investigating the human condition in song involves spending a great deal of concentrated energy and time with Grandma in the kitchen! She can teach you how to care and how to put love into your cake!
From 1939-1972, Professor John L. Lester was head of the voice department in the School of Music at The University of Montana. He was unable to record in book form his approach to teaching the voice before he died at age 94 on May 13, 1994.
Authors Dr. Gary Funk's and Robert Hoyem's successful careers in opera, concert and music education were critically influenced by Prof. Lester's unique approach to the teaching of singing.
This book will become a valuable resource about Lester's constructively direct manner of helping voice students discover the true potential of their voices as expressive, dramatic and musical instruments. The pedagogical lexicon that forms the first half of the book will be useful to voice teachers and singers alike.
For Prof. Lester,, teaching voice was a sacred responsibility of great ethical importance. His work with students wasn not only about teaching singing. He was also deeply concerned with enabling sensitive, disciplined and positively effective lives in the arts. A large number of his students became fully accomplished singers and went on to successful careers.
Frankly, I would possibly have NO career at all without John Lester's training in the use of my voce for opera...also enabling me to be heard over the largest orchestras. In my opinion he was unique! – Marilyn Zschau
Although I had studied under well-known teachers, John Lester was the only one who was able to strengthen my voice....He made me so aware of technique that I was able to get through the most strenuous roles with the least amount of difficulty.
– Otoniel Gonzaga
I am grateful to Mr. Lester for opening up the world of singing to me. He taught me the necessary basics which set the foundation for my conservatory years (Curtis Institute of Music)...Now in my retirement, I am grateful for those formative years with John Lester.
– Judith Blegen
His was a method of taking the voice apart and then putting it back together again....His basic idea was to build a vocal and physical memory...allowing you to take ownership of this memory. I thank him for giving me the chance to appear in the fine opera houses where I have sung. He was a master teacher.
– Donald George
What does an artist in Montana accomplish in a lifetime here, removed as we are from the great halls of success? For a teacher of John Lester's caliber, the accomplishment is people, the taking of young, untrained, but exciting talent and giving it early and definite shape for a future of artistic accomplishment.
– Bo Brown, Chair, Dept. of Drama, The University of Montana
Part I: Lexicon of Vocal Pedagogy
From Acoustics to Breathing, from Resonance to Throat Opening, this section of the book is listed in alphabetical order to lead readers easily to topics of their greatest interest.
Part II: The Life of John L. Lester
Lester's biography is fascinating because it includes a covered wagon journey from Iowa to Texas, his early studies with Oscar Seagle that eventually led to his long work with the famous Jean de Reszke in Nice, France. Lester returns to NYC where he taught many radio and film actors of the Paramount Studio. Website links are provided for readers to listen to recordings of Lester's teachers and his many students.
Before coming to Montana, after teaching in Europe and New York City, John L. Lester had studied with Jean DeReszke in Nice, France, considered one of the greatest dramatic tenors of the age. After DeReszke’s death, Lester continued studies with Mario Sammarco in Milan, Italy. Sammarco was a colleague of Enrico Caruso at La Scala and a leading Verdi baritone at Covent Garden in London and at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
In a remarkable testimony to John Lester in 1965, the Chairman of the Department of Drama at The University of Montana, Professor Bo Brown gave the following tribute:
What does an artist in Montana accomplish in a lifetime here, removed as we are from the great halls of success? For a teacher of John Lester’s caliber, the accomplishment is people, the taking of young, untrained, but exciting talent and giving it early and definite shape for a future of artistic accomplishment.
Over his distinguished career, John Lester taught many singers including Marilyn Zschau, Otoniel Gonzaga, Donald George and Judith Blegen who all went on to gain international prominence in concert and opera.
Frankly, I would possible have had NO career at all without John Lester’s training in the use of my voice for opera...also enabling me to be heard over the largest orchestras. In my opinion, he was unique!
– Marilyn Zschau
Although I had studied under well known teachers, John Lester was the only one who was able to strengthen my voice....He made me so aware of technique that I was able to get through the most strenuous roles with the least amount of difficulty. – Otoniel Gonzaga
His was a method of taking the voice apart and then putting it back together again....His basic idea was to build a vocal and physical memory...allowing you to take ownership of this memory....I thank him for giving me the chance to appear in the fine opera houses where I have sung. He was a master teacher.
– Donald George –
I am grateful to Mr. Lester for opening up the world of singing to me. He taught me the necessary basics which set the foundation for my conservatory years (Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia)....Now in my retirement, I am grateful for those formative years with John Lester. – Judith Blegen