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Gratitude: Ongoing

A Message from Kimberly Brody, Executive Director:

Thank you for reading! I am about to share a personal story, but it really does have a relationship to Ars Nova Singers!

I grew up in Minnesota, and our school district had a very robust band program at the time. The band director was notoriously scary – even parents were afraid of him! But he was a positive influence on the entire district’s music programs, and when I was in fifth grade I had already decided I wanted to play the oboe.

My mom was very supportive from the beginning, when I had to play clarinet for a couple of years before I could switch to oboe, and then after I switched she made sure I had private lessons and could participate in all of the extra-curriculars to support my dream of playing professionally. She attended every concert she could – whether it was at my college only 45 minutes from home, or in La Coruña, Spain, when I played in an orchestra there, or numerous concerts in Chicago before I moved to Boulder.

And she was beyond thrilled when I was appointed Executive Director of Ars Nova Singers – another phase of my professional music career.

Stepping back several decades… My mom took piano lessons during the time when “encouragement” was delivered in the form of semi-abuse. Her teacher rarely, if ever, complimented her, and while she stuck it out through some apparently humorous recital appearances, she wasn’t motivated to stay with it. She later learned from her own mother that the teacher reported “It’s too bad Peggy quit; she could have been a concert pianist!” So my mom’s career in music ended up mostly about supporting mine. She also loved attending concerts of all sorts, especially when there was a choir involved. In Minnesota she had many opportunities to hear great orchestral and choral music, from St. Olaf College productions to Vocalessence to Minnesota Boychoir. Who knew that she was getting primed to be a fan of Ars Nova Singers!?

A sweet coincidence is that my mom worked at Macalester College for over a decade, her last job before retirement. And Macalester College is Maestro Tom Morgan’s alma mater!

As a young girl in St. Paul my mom attended the prestigious all-female Summit School. Her class had a total of 14 girls and they were all pals throughout high school. And they have remained pals – an astonishing feat over the course of 71 years! The numbers have dwindled over time, but as of December 2019 there were still 11 remaining.

Sadly, in the last 6 months, three more of the classmates passed away at age 88, and my mom, Peggy Hamm Lemmon, was one of them. She died just days before I stepped into my role at Ars Nova.

I wanted to honor so many aspects of my mom – her love of music, her support of her musical family (her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchilden!), and her lifetime relationships with her pals from the Summit School Class of 1949. What better way than to create an Endowment Fund at Ars Nova in her honor and memory?

I approached one of her “besties” over the years – my godmother, Nancy Weyerhaeuser – who lovingly supported my endeavor and put me in touch with all of the remaining women from the Class of ’49. And every single one of them contributed to this Memorial Fund, and many included a note about how special Peggy was to them. It has been 71 years since they were together as a full group of 14. They went on to marriages and careers and motherhood, spread far and wide from Minnesota to California to South Carolina and Colorado. They continued to love and care for one another, gather regularly, celebrate milestones and reunions, and mourn passings. I have had the honor and privilege to reconnect with each one through their generous contributions to an organization that they don’t know – but that they trust and believe in because of me and because of my mom, their dear friend Peggy.

In these days of social distancing and isolation, this is such a beautiful example of unity, generosity, and connection. I am grateful for the friendships my mom experienced with these women nearly her entire life, and I am grateful for their willingness to honor her through me, to the extraordinary benefit of Ars Nova Singers.

Below is a picture of those lovely women, back in the day. Thank you to each and every one of them! My mom is the one in the lower right – with the smirk on her face! As Nancy said to me just the other day, “You know that look, right!?” I had to chuckle, because the answer is definitely yes…

Cheers to my mom, Peggy Hamm Lemmon. Thank you for being a music lover! And thank you to the Summit School Class of 1949 for your support of the Peggy Hamm Lemmon Memorial Fund of the Ars Nova Singers Endowment. We are so grateful!

Thank you!

Jean Carlton Ambler
Ann Harmon Clapp
Audrae Norris Gruber
Gretchen Richter Law
Dorothy Griffith Macdonald
Aleeta Englebert Pierce
Lesser Stoltz

Cynthia Baer
Roxanne Paper Forman
Phyllis Laidlaw Herring
Peggy Hamm Lemmon
Julie Griggs Marty
Meg Metcalf Poulton
Nancy Niemeyer Weyerhaeuser