Donald Teeters



John Grimes was a musician’s musician. He loved performing. He also loved the preparation for performance and the research that went into determining the right instrument and mallets for the work being performed, be it opera, oratorio, or symphony. And there was a stylistic integrity that he brought to his work, the knowledge that music by Handel or Haydn or Brahms or Britten required different sounds and techniques. John’s attention to these matters, coupled with his great natural gift, earned him the admiration of his colleagues. Audiences, too, enjoyed his musical company. His enthusiasms were a delight to hear and to see. He wanted people to see how much fun he was having.

His first performance with The Boston Cecilia (then The Cecilia Society) was on April 14, 1977. The work was Bach’s Mass in B Minor and Benjamin Zander was the conductor. I was on sabbatical leave for most of that season. When I last visited John at his home two weeks before he died, he was working on orchestral contracting details related to Cecilia’s forthcoming performance of that work, on Bach’s birthday, March 21, 2014. Cecilia’s new music director, Nicholas White, will conduct. There is a poignant symmetry, I think, in musing on that span of thirty-six years between John’s first and final collaborations with The Boston Cecilia, and on all the fine music-making that took place in between, and that at the core, both at beginning and end, was Bach’s magnum opus.

I have conducted many Cecilia performances over the years in which John played a central role: a great deal of Handel, of course, and Bach, but also Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and from later times Fauré and Britten and some fine composers of right now. John Grimes was not only a frequent performer with Cecilia, but also a valued contributor to its management team as a member of the Board of Directors during his final years. Speaking personally, the relationship between John Grimes and me grew from a formal, professional one into, in the last decade or so, one of great personal friendship and mutual respect. We had great conversations about everything. He liked my cooking. I liked the wines he brought as accompaniments. His circle of friendships was wide, professional connections maybe even wider. Stories of his kindnesses and support are legend, markers of the respect and affection this most remarkable man and musician so fully earned. He is missed.

—Donald Teeters, Conductor Emeritus

Timpani photo: courtesy of Flickr user, vxla



above: The Cyprian Consort (photo courtesy of the Cyprian Consort)

The Boston Cecilia has given a gala every other year in recent memory. This festive occasion, besides being a lot of fun, serves several other important purposes. First of all, the chorus members show that their ability to work together to make beautiful music carries across to organize a fabulous party. Our camaraderie grows stronger. We have learned that the cantando style—spinning our own lines as we sing together in harmony—has application beyond music.

Before the gala, we have been inviting friends and family who have enjoyed our concerts to join us in the merriment of the evening. We have been rustling up an assortment of auction prizes to suit a variety of tastes and pocketbooks.

During the gala, while enjoying sumptuous hors d’oeuvres and dessert pastries along with fine wines, we are hoping to entice our guests and each other to bid on the auction prizes. We hope they will get caught up in the drama of the moment to provide added theatre for us all. Presto giocoso!

We all know that the further purpose of the gala is to raise money to support our music-making, as concert ticket prices cover only about a third of our costs. The gala is essential to Cecilia’s future, and what better way to help than by everyone having a marvelous time. To this end, sponsorship tables for October 19th are available at the Oscar ($5,000), Tony ($2,000), and Emmy ($1,000) levels.  Cameo Individual Tickets ($85) are also available and can be purchased online from our website by going to the Gala page, and clicking on this button when you arrive there:

In 2013 our Opening Night gala opens the curtain on a new season as well as a new era. Donald Teeters, Cecilia’s Music Director since 1968 until 2012 and now Conductor Emeritus, will be passing the baton to Nicholas White, literally and figuratively.

As the scenario of the evening unfolds with silent and live auctions, the Cyprian Consort will be our musical entertainment. Our own Jessica Cooper and Thea Lobo, with lute and gamba, will be amusing us with Elizabethan songs. Among them are several from the racier side of the repertoire, tempo amabile leading to amoroso.

Not to be outdone, Miss Piggy, the porcelain pig which Donald Teeters created several years ago, is planning to appear—although she is making porcine remarks sotto voce about this being her last. We hope that at the end of the gala Miss Piggy will lead the curtain calls to a prolonged ovation and cries of brava! brava!