Obituaries - Fall 2020 | News Center - UNLV NewsCenter

Obituaries - Fall 2020 | News Center - UNLV NewsCenter Obituaries - Fall 2020 | News Center - UNLV NewsCenter Posted: 08 Nov 2020 12:00 AM PST Stephen Brown Brown, professor of economics and former director of the Center for Business and Economic Research, died May 6. He joined the Lee Business School in 2010 as professor and the center's director. Several years later he took a position in the department of economics as a full-time professor, teaching courses in public finance and economic development, and doing research in energy economics. He was senior editor of the international academic journal  Energy Policy  and a University Fellow at Resources for the Future, a nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based think tank that specializes in energy, environmental, and natural resource economics. Felicia Campbell Campbell, UNLV's longest-serving faculty member, died July 27 of complications related to COVID-19. A member of the English d

The Mintels Spent Decades Recording And Preserving Classical Music In Chicago. Their Archive Is Headed To The Library Of Congress - Block Club Chicago

The Mintels Spent Decades Recording And Preserving Classical Music In Chicago. Their Archive Is Headed To The Library Of Congress - Block Club Chicago

The Mintels Spent Decades Recording And Preserving Classical Music In Chicago. Their Archive Is Headed To The Library Of Congress - Block Club Chicago

Posted: 17 Nov 2020 12:56 AM PST

HYDE PARK — Four decades of Chicago's contributions to classical music history, painstakingly recorded and archived by a Hyde Park husband and wife, will be preserved and catalogued by the Library of Congress.

The Richard and Judith Mintel Archive of Recordings contains nearly 350 hours of classical music recorded from 1974-2014, of which samples are available online.

The full digital archive contains nearly 250 gigabytes of data, while the physical archive consists of about 275 CDs. The collection arrived Nov. 6 at the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia, and it will be processed and preserved in coming months.

A copy of the archive was donated to Northwestern University in fall 2017, where CDs featuring the recordings can be listened to on-site or checked out at the Beinen School of Music Library. Another copy was made and donated to Chicago's fine arts radio station WFMT in September 2019.

Judith Mintel pitched her collection to archivists and engineers with the Library of Congress at a 2018 conference. A lawyer and organizer with the Hyde Park Refugee Project, Mintel has served as chief archivist and publicist for the collection.

The Library of Congress showed interest, so Judith spent months preparing to submit the archive, she said. By this March, she had the collection prepared to ship to Virginia. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and the library temporarily stopped taking in collections.

When the library started accepting submissions again, the parties had to work quickly. A continuing resolution, which funds the federal government through an ongoing budget impasse, expires Dec. 11.

Despite the bumps in the road, the parties worked out the submission with weeks to spare.

The national library is "top of the line," Judith Mintel said. "They're the best at , they have the most resources," and she's excited to see Richard's passion project accepted to such a prestigious institution.

"My husband just loved to make recordings," she said. "He would be very happy to know that's where they're ending up."

Richard Mintel's 'Remarkable Ear'

Richard Mintel learned audio engineering at Quincy Senior High School, from which he graduated in 1956. He made his first recordings with reel-to-reel tapes.

Mintel earned his bachelor's and doctorate degrees from the University of Chicago in the early '60s. During this time, he studied organ under Rockefeller Chapel organist Edward Mondello.

Richard and Judith Mintel pose for a picture with a Sony PCMF-1 Beta video cassette recorder in 1986.
The Richard and Judith Mintel Archive of Recordings

He and Judith met conductor and fellow organist Thomas Wikman at a mock "wake" in Hyde Park after Richard Nixon was elected president in 1968.

Shortly afterward, Mintel began recording Wikman's organ recitals, then continued when Wikman founded the Music of the Baroque chorus and orchestra in 1972.

Mintel would go on to record the ensemble's every concert until 2001, when Wikman left the group.

As Mintel recorded classical music into the 21st century, he adapted to digital audiotapes and hard disk recorders, maintaining the same high quality throughout.

"My husband worked so hard to get it just right," Judith Mintel said. "I don't think there are very many choral or classical music recordings that can match that quality."

Mintel died in December 2014 at 76. His final recording was at the Church of the Ascension in Gold Coast, where Wikman served as choirmaster for decades.

"That's a really rich background for a recording engineer," said Matthew Barton, the library's curator of recorded sound. "At every stage, [the Mintels] learned the new technology and brought to it the best of what you could do with the old technology."

As time went on, Richard Mintel constantly adapted to the newest audio recording technology. Here, he records a concert at First United Methodist Church in Evanston, working from a Windows XP laptop.
The Richard and Judith Mintel Archive of Recordings

Beyond its contributions to the history of classical music, the Mintel Archive is "a very interesting survey of the technological evolution of sound recording," said Declan McGovern, Music of the Baroque's executive director.

Mintel deeply understood the art of microphone placement, allowing him to capture not only the performances but the ambience of the venues where they were held, McGovern said.

Richard Mintel's Crown 800-series reel-to-reel recorder.
The Richard and Judith Mintel Archive of Recordings

For all his talents and recognition, Mintel was never a professional audio engineer. A biochemistry expert, he taught at the University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Virginia, and he served as an assistant dean at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign's medical school.

But "recording was his love, and he was totally respected by the top people in the industry," Wikman said.

"Wherever Dick went and people heard his tapes, he was in like Flynn with those people. He had a remarkable ear."

An archiving station at the National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Virginia, pictured here in 2018.
Judith Mintel

Music Of The Baroque: Chicago's — And Hyde Park's — Own

Music of the Baroque concerts are part of eight of the nine collections in the Mintel Archive.

Three of the collections capture a series of 13-week radio broadcasts on WFMT. Partner stations worldwide annually broadcast these performances of Monteverdi's "Vespers of the Blessed Virgin," Bach's Passions, Handel's oratorios and more, recorded from 1987 to 1989.

Five other collections document the rest of the Wikman-led Music of the Baroque performances from 1974 to 2001.

Music of the Baroque broadcasts were WFMT's highest-rated program in the late 1980s, according to the station's survey of partner stations' program directors. In every category, the broadcasts beat out those of other renowned orchestras.

The Music of the Baroque recordings share space in the archive with a collection of recordings of the Grand Teton Music Festival Orchestra, as well as other classical music performances, organ recitals and worship services.

The Baroque ensemble held its earliest concerts at the Church of St. Paul & the Redeemer at 50th Street and Dorchester Avenue, said Wikman, its founder and a Hyde Park resident of 50 years.

When the group began to attract crowds larger than that church could handle, the United Church of Hyde Park at 53rd Street and Blackstone Avenue became its de facto home base for rehearsals and concerts.

"We were able to rent that building for all our rehearsals, and we're talking a lot of rehearsals — 100 or 200 times a year," Wikman said. "It was a very good arrangement."

Performing in Hyde Park was "always so very special, because that's where the group started," said Charles Rhodes, an early Music of the Baroque devotee and former soloist.

Rhodes heard about the ensemble the year of its founding through friends who performed in it. After a brief stint in New York for grad school, he returned to Chicago and "immediately auditioned" for Wikman, earning a spot in the chorus from 1975 to 1984.

Rhodes would usually leave the room when his own solos were played back at post-concert parties. But for the portions he listened to, he always appreciated the "spectacular recording quality" of Mintel's work.

In the moment, it never crossed Rhodes' mind the recordings would be preserved for posterity in the national library.

"Now, in retrospect — by God, it's perfect," he said. The Library of Congress is "a perfect repository for a cultural institution, founded in Chicago by local people and run by local people, that rose to a level of performance that is unrivaled, in my opinion."

The Mintel Archive and its Chicago-focused recordings are an asset to the Library of Congress, where the classical music scenes of New York and Los Angeles are "certainly better represented in our collection," curator Barton said.

The archive also documents a time long past for Midwestern classical musicians, Wikman said. Local singers have fewer opportunities to study and perform Baroque music than they did during Mintel's run as sound engineer, he said.

Among Wikman's students and performers was the tenor Richard Versalle. Both were natives of Muskegon, Michigan; Versalle performed with his hometown Cosmopolitan Male Singers prior to joining Music of the Baroque.

Versalle and soprano Linda Mabbs, a "virtuosic" Northwestern University graduate who also performed with the Chicago and London symphony orchestras, were two noteworthy soloists in Music of the Baroque.

The duo and other Chicago-based musicians allowed the group to perform large-scale Handel oratorios, rarely performed elsewhere because they required such "great voices and great technique" with runtimes approaching four hours, Wikman said.

Nowadays, young classical musicians are better off studying and performing in Europe, Wikman said. But during his heyday, "an amazing time" that saw an explosion of appreciation for Baroque, Renaissance and Medieval music, "Chicago was a wonderful place to be."

"I tried to stay local," Wikman said. "That was one of the ways I built a great chorus."

An old roster of Music of the Baroque performers.
The Richard and Judith Mintel Archive of Recordings

Today, Music of the Baroque is in its 50th season, now under conductor Jane Glover and Executive Director McGovern. The ensemble has Chris Willis serving in the role of sound engineer, as Mintel did for decades.

McGovern is "delighted" a huge chunk of the organization's history will be preserved next to "so many iconic and significant music collections" in the Library of Congress. Recordings preserve "the excellence of the live concert stage" for all to hear, he said.

With that in mind, Music of the Baroque continues to record its every performance — in the "wonderful tradition that Richard and Judith set up through their enthusiasm and expertise," McGovern said.

"You put so much heart, soul and sweat into the rehearsals to create perfect performances," he said. "It then has an afterlife."

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Pittsburgh's Hockey History, Islam 101 among programs at Northland Public Library - TribLIVE

Posted: 17 Nov 2020 09:01 PM PST

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Reena Esmail Remains Busy in LA - San Francisco Classical Voice

Posted: 17 Nov 2020 02:11 PM PST

Composer Reena Esmail had a year of projects planned before the pandemic. She was joining the Los Angeles Master Chorale as composer-is-residence in the fall, and she was set to spend a season with the Seattle Symphony in that same position.

While the coronavirus, in theory, hasn't stopped composers from composing, it has seriously limited the chance for new performances. Still, Esmail is making the best of an unlucky situation, taking the opportunity to share some recent work, online and in a new guise.

With the Master Chorale in the wings, Esmail has rescored TaReKiTa, a short work she wrote in 2016 for L.A.'s Urban Voices Project. This version, in a standard choral arrangement, updates the original, which was written with a flexible ensemble size in mind. But the concept stays the same: high-energy music, set to syllable patterns that emulate traditional Indian tabla playing.

The Master Chorale premieres the new arrangement as a music video, Nov. 20 at 10 a.m. PT on the chorus's website. The production brings in elements of Indian classical dance, performed by Shalini Haupt. Jenny Wong, the Master Chorale's associate artistic director, oversaw the music.

Meanwhile, Esmail is wrapping up another online project this week. For the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, the composer has been walking listeners through the four movements of her Piano Trio, on a program at The Wallis earlier this year. It's a piece that gets to the essence of Esmail's style, Indian and Western classical music put together.

That performance — by violinist Vijay Gupta, cellist Peter Myers, and pianist Suzana Bartal — was recorded in February 2020. The first three parts are archived on The Wallis's YouTube channel, and the fourth premieres Nov. 19 at 5 p.m. PT (register for that here).

Opening night magic is still part of the thrill for online Vanilla Box Productions shows - Worcester Mag

Posted: 18 Nov 2020 02:00 AM PST

Vanilla Box Productions of Worcester  is about to put on its sixth show since June as it presents the comedy drama "Belles, the Reunion" by Mark Dunn at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 and 21.

However, the productions have not been the same as what was planned at the beginning of the year.

Big stage offerings of "La Cage Aux Folles" and "Hello Dolly" were canceled because of the pandemic, as was a youth production of "Head Over Heels" and Vanilla Box's annual summer theater camp for children and youths.

But rather than shutting up shop, Vanilla Box Productions decided to live-stream shows online

And in this case, live means live.

As opposed to watching a pre-recorded streamed show online, viewers of "Belles, the Reunion" on Friday and Saturday will be watching a live performance each night as the actors perform remotely from their respective homes and director and Vaniila Box Productions co-founder Joel D. Seger coordinates the production from his home. 

 "Opening night is still opening night. That magic that happens when you watch a show still happens when you do a live (online) show," Seger said.

"I have decided I'm doing it live. Live shows Friday night and Saturday night. We certainly could have filmed. You would think it would be different because they (the cast) are just in their homes, but somehow it's just like it would be in a traditional theater experience. The magic happens."

There are also mistakes that happen, Seger noted, just as can happen at a regular opening night, although the mistakes may be of a different nature.

"Somebody's WiFi crashed in the middle of a show," Seger recalled.

But it came back.   

Like the other online shows Vanilla Box Productions has been putting on, "Belles, the Reunion" is a full-length play, with the total production coming in at just under two hours, Seger said. 

There's also "a curtain speech, surprise at the end, and a video bow." Intermission is five minutes because "nobody's really going anywhere."  

Cost of an online ticket, which includes a digital program, is $10. "A bargain," Seger said. The shows are "recorded for history" but will not be shown after the Nov. 20 and 21 performances. Tickets are available at

Vanilla Box Productions, which was founded by Seger and his wife, Christine C. Seger, is finishing its 14th season. The Segers both have extensive backgrounds in theater, with Joel often directing musicals and Christine working as the choreographer. Joel Seeger has also worked in the field of theater for different theater companies and schools as a private contractor 

The 2020 season began in February when Vanilla Box Productions staged Worcester composer, lyricist and playwright Stephen Murray's romantic musical comedy "Making Scents" at its long-time home at the then Holy Name Central Catholic Junior/Senior High School, 144 Granite St.

It was an exciting but "normal" enough event.

Then the pandemic hit, and besides having to scrap its lineup of large-scale musicals there was a question of whether Vanilla Box Productions would still be able to stage any shows at all in the future at the now St. Paul Diocesan Junior-Senior High School located at the former Holy Name site. Vanilla Box had to at least temporarily move out of the theater space while repairs and renovations were taking place.

The issue has been moot for the rest of the 14th season, since the space could not have been used anyway with the pandemic.

For its first online show in June, Vanilla Box Productions reunited the cast of its popular 2015 production of the comedy drama "Steel Magnolias" for a staged reading, with the actors holding their scripts. Chuck Grigaitis, who oversaw the 2015 show, directed.

The response was encouraging enough for Vanilla Box Productions to plan five more online shows, this time with the cast memorizing their lines and Joel Seger directing. The productions were/are: "Bull in a China Shop" by Bryna Turner, performed in July; "Belles" by Mark Dunn, performed in August; "She Kills Monsters: Virtual Realms" by Qui Nguyen, also performed  in August; Mark Dunn's "The Puzzle in the Piazza" performed in  October; and now Dunn's "Belles, the Reunion" to be performed on Friday and Saturday.

Vanilla Box Productions is best known for its musical productions, but an online musical with the cast at different remote locations is more or less an impossibility to present without the likelihood of major glitches such as sound lag.

As can be seen, three of the comedy dramas that Vanilla Box Productions has or will put on this year are by Dunn, known for his endearing plays.

"We're classic musical family-friendly type of thing. We've been lucky. I like the playwright Mark Dunn. He speaks to me," Joel Seger said.

Vanilla Box Productions even contacted Dunn, who gave the theater company permission to stage his comedy "The Puzzle in the Piazza" which is unpublished. The cast was so thrilled they collectively bought Dunn a gift.

"Belles, the Reunion" reunites the eccentric six Walker sisters first seen in "Belles."

They're all back on the phone again for what is described as "another crisis-filled weekend."  The most immediate concern: Mama has taken off all her clothes in the community room of her nursing home and the sisters must put their heads together and decide what to do with her.  Meanwhile, oldest sister Peggy has been bilked out of all her money by a ne'er-do-well boyfriend;  Aneece and Paige's marriages are on the rocks; Audrey continues to mourn the death of both her husband and her only child by climbing inside a bottle; Sherry is still trying to earn the respect of her sisters after so many years of being the free-spirited family laughingstock; and Roseanne, after three failed marriages to three minister husbands, has lost both her religious faith and the faith she's always put in her family. Is there anything that can reunite them?

The cast is Nicole Lian (Peggy), Debbie Huard (Aneece), Keri McCarthy (Audrey), Laura Gulli  (Sherry), Katelynn P. Seger (Roseanne), and Rosie Joubert (Paige). The stage manager is Adrian Gage.

Rehearsals for "Belles, the Reunion" have taken place over six weeks, which Seger said is a little bit less than other shows because he and the cast were already familiar with each other from the initial "Belles" in August.

Still, from the first ("Bull in a China Shop") of the five online show he's directed until now, "There was a steep learning curve," Seger said. 

Matters that he was getting to at the sixth or seventh rehearsal of the first online show, "now I can tell them the first day these are all the issues we're talking about," he said.

Psychologically, "It's kind of weird. I'm really a touchy-feely person. I kind of like to have private conversations about characters. It's really a different kind of process." 

Technically, with a Zoom platform, "I have a little bit of control. I can choose to have the characters who have their cameras on," Seger said.

If a character is "off stage," she should turn her camera off. 

There can be different backgrounds for characters, there are costume changes that the actors do, and entrances and exits. Seger can play musical transitions, and have signs appear on screen indicating a change of time for the next scene ("It's now Saturday night").

"It's as close to a live theater experience as you can get," Seger said.   

 Audiences have been averaging 30 to 50 people a night.

"We're trying. We're trying. From the first show when I couldn't figure out how to  have any music to this show where I created a video that's part of the show — that's only this year. It's a lifetime ago in terms of how much I do now  compared to then," Seger said.  

"It's  amazing what you can do in a short period of time and I'm still trying to create. If you've seen one of my shows I want you to see the next one and have a different experience ... 

"I'm glad to be creative and still have the chance to be creative and still provide some theater. Art is happening. Something is happening and I think that's important. In a business sense I'm glad we had the opportunity. I felt we were getting a toehold and I didn't want that to go away."

Vanilla Box Productions had been receiving great notices for its pre-pandemic musicals. Six online shows this year, meanwhile, is likely more than any other local theater company has realized.

"We've been hearing from the performers, hearing from some patrons, getting some good feedback, so that's always nice," Seger said.

There were some thought of doing a show in December, but Seger said Vanilla Box Productions couldn't cast it appropriately.

So after "Belle, the Reunion," the theater company will probably take a break until February. The 2020 season was planned to run from February to October/November, and 2021 will follow suit.

A rest, however brief, might be welcome. "The pace, it's quick and it's nonstop," Seger said of planning and producing online shows. "At one point I had three going on in different aspects."   

Vanilla Box Productions is looking to find a new project for February and might even "do something small in January."

But no return to live in-person theater just yet. 

"It doesn't look like it's going to be that way. I would love to be safe enough to share my live shows from a stage (and live stream). That means I might be able to do a musical," Seger said.

As for the day when Vanilla Box Productions and a full audience can be together at the same location, there are indications of where that place is going to be.    

Christine Seger had been employed at Holy Name and is now working at St. Paul Diocesan. She is a graduate of Holy Name High and she and her husband were both in the cast in a 1992 Holy Name Summer Theater production of "The Sound of Music." Holy Name Summer Theater and later Booth Productions was run by Richard A. Booth Sr. at Holy Name for many years, and the Segers were regularly involved with shows there.

Vanilla Box Productions' first adult production at Holy Name was "Anything Goes" in 2013. 

And now ...

"It looks like we will be welcome back into the school, into the theater, when it's safe to do so," Joel Seger said.

So some good news in a difficult year.

"We've been there a long time. We really cherish it. We're excited to get back there," he said.


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