It is a great honor to present two of this year’s Yeomen of Regard Awards to Nancy and Bill Burdine.

A significant element of the Sudbury Savoyards’ artistic success is the ability to mount an orchestra with the skill and desire to do justice to the works of our composers, on a volunteer basis. For more than two decades Bill and Nancy gave tirelessly of their time and energy to ensure the very existence and well being of the Sudbury Savoyards orchestra, as well as donating their exemplary musical talents to our joint cause themselves: Bill on Bassoon, and Nancy on oboe. They also functioned as our vital representatives to the large musical community in the greater Boston area to bring to us the talented musicians without whom we could not perform main-stage shows on this scale.

Of course the Sudbury Savoyards and the greater Massachusetts music community were saddened by the sudden loss of Bill this past July, but we are pleased that Nancy and their daughter Margaret and her husband can represent the family this evening, as we honor his memory and contributions. We cannot properly honor the Burdines without also mentioning their daughter Carol, who many will remember as the Sudbury Savoyards’ #1 fan; a smiling face in the front row of the audience for so many of the 20+ shows her parents were involved in, who in addition to acting as a cheerleader for all our endeavors, served on the publicity crew and just generally was one of our most enthusiastic attendees ever. Sadly, we lost Carol on Dec. 3, 1997.

The Burdines met at MIT, through the MIT Choral Society as singers.

They actually picked up the wind instruments we know them as skilled players of comparatively late in life, when daughter Margaret was in Jr. High. Previously, both played recorder, Billy; harmonica, guitar and broomstraw (fiddle as percussion) in childhood in Mississippi, Nancy, piano and harpsichord. Though neither was ever on stage in a G&S production, they enjoyed many a sing-a-long with NEGASS and others over the years.

The Burdines first connection to the Sudbury Savoyards was when Billy (his real name!) was asked to play bassoon in the Maynard Savoyards (which would later become SLOC) in the Fall of 1979. Both Bill and Nancy were then asked to play the 1980 production of The Gondoliers under the baton of Will Sherwood. They provided beautiful performances for Savoyards audiences themselves for 21 consecutive shows beginning that year, and continuing through the 2000 production of Ruddigore.

The Burdines served as the Orchestra Managers for 16 shows from 1987 to 2001.

Duties included:

  • Recruiting the orchestra - dozens of phone calls to potential orchestra participants. Securing a full complement of orchestral musicians in months before the show is even cast each year! Arranging for last minute substitutions, etc.
  • Acting as music librarians: securing and distributing scores and parts to the music director and orchestra members.
  • Keeping orchestra members up to date on rehearsal and performance schedules before the efficiency of e-mail was an option! Used their outstanding interpersonal relation skills to foster a non-competitive and friendly environment of community service minded people working together in Savoyards orchestra. Nancy has indicated that they truly love the G&S music and enjoyed taking on the task of making other people happy by given them the opportunity to play it too.

How many of this year’s orchestra were originally contacted by the Burdine’s?

  • Providing sustenance for hungry musicians during rehearsals by bringing snacks for breaks.
  • Pit managers: including physical set-up and break down of the pit, to this day the orchestra players still read their music by Burdine stand lights, powered by Burdine power strips and extension cords. Sometimes involved shuttled around stands and percussion equipment as well.
  • In the few years since the Burdines were handling all these duties other Savoyards members have struggled to define, name, and cover the breadth of work that had been handled so apparently seamlessly by Bill and Nancy for 21 years. Recent attempts at new positions to fill the shoes of the Burdines have included Orchestra Liaison(s), Pit Manager, and Orchestra Recruiter.
  • The Burdines report that the hardest to recruit positions are typically: Bass, and auxillary percussion. They remain grateful to trombones who have pitched in over the years to add percussion effects and such during all those rests!
  • The Burdines worked harmoniously with 6 different music directors over the years, as such were dealing with a wide range of conducting and leadership styles, levels of experience or lack thereof (many 1st time music directors cite the role of the Burdines as a major comfort factor in their overall first time experience with the Savoyards orchestra).

Conductors they worked under: Will Sherwood - once, Barry Singer a number of times, Jim Ravan for several productions, Bruce Miller once, Kathy Lague, and Steve Malionek. David Larrick for more shows than any other.

Also managed the orchestra for both of the 2001 anniversary events: The Main Show Production of The Gondoliers (music directed by Malionek) and the 40th anniversary celebration of Places Please with Alan Yost as music director.

Savoyards are but one of the many organizations that have benefited over the years from the Burdines talent and volunteer spirit. They have performed in a number of area year-round orchestras over the years, and came to pick up the recruiting tasks necessary to provide musicians for symphony concerts, choral groups, and to accompany other theater organizations.

They have managed orchestras for SLOC in Carlisle since 1986, and for many years both played with and managed the Wellesley Symphony, where Bill was also on the Board. In 1991 elected to SLOC’s Gallery of Ancesters for “outstanding and significant contribution to the organization”.

Concord Band: I [Elizabeth Kinney] knew them as a young child as long-time members of the woodwind family in the Concord Band where my parents played along side them while I was growing up. Bill was presented with a Life Time Achievement Award by the Concord Band in 2002. Also recruited orchestra for Concord Chorus.

Incredible community service role:

  • Mid 80’s Created Concord Hill Musicians including: who play for churches, private functions, wedding and for other local choral and theater groups.
  • Concord Hill Chamber Orchestra
  • Concord Hill Woodwind Quintet
  • As an expanded woodwind quintet, Concord Hill accompanied G&S productions for Boston First Night, Janus Opera Productions and the MIT Players’ summer G&S shows.
  • The Burdines were themselves members of a performing woodwind quintet who played numerous gigs in the area over the years, including the weddings of several of us here in the room tonight. Their personal favorite: David Larrick’s wedding to Sally Osborn.
  • Provide referral network for Boston area avocational musicians. Built roster of several hundred area avocational musicians from which they have recruited for the Savoyards and numerous other musical organizations. This list is truly worth its weight in gold and many think they could and should charge for use of it! It includes a full range of instruments for bands and orchestras, and range of abilities from fully professional to plays once a year with Savoyards.
  • The Burdines always give out names of other musicians to call and never charge for this referral service. Viewed as important community service.
  • The Burdine’s longest running project: As part of Lexington’s Bicentennial celebration in 1976, the Burdines were asked to arranged a short summer concert series at First Parish in Lexington. That year, 4 concerts, now 17 concerts per season, still running, now in its 24th season! The Burdines have run a highly successful lunch-time concert series on Fridays throughout the summer at the First Parish of Lexington for the past 28 years. This series now runs each Friday for 4 months, June through September, 17 weeks in all and has regularly featured performances by members of the Concord Hill Musicians and the Sudbury Savoyards.

Nancy has indicated that she and Billy always particularly enjoyed their involvement with the Sudbury Savoyards. They loved the beautiful winter drives, traveling out to Sudbury on back roads from their home in Lexington for rehearsals, etc. the excitement of opening night, and that this wonderfully friendly group of people continue to be inspired by W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan all these years after these shows were written.

What they love best about the Sudbury Savoyards over other groups they’ve done management and recruiting for is the family nature of the group, which they worked to foster within the orchestra, with great success. They also have been very supportive over the years of orchestra members being bitten by the stage bug, spending a year here or there or many on stage, and still welcoming them back to the pit later on. Barbara Dove (cello), Michael Good (trumpet), Alessandra Kingsford (trumpet), and two of my own family members have benefited from this: Last year’s Patience, my sister Kathryn Denney, and my husband Pat Kinney has spent most of his 18 year tenure in the clarinet section but has ventured onto the stage 4 times over the past 8 years and always still had a seat waiting for him upon his return.

Ironically the Burdines never stepped into the stage life themselves for G&S but did thoroughly enjoy many sing-alongs!

Families utilized by the Burdines in the orchestra: We hope we did not omit anyone!

  • SCHAFER: Eva and Til Schafer (violin and cello) played longer than anyone. Nancy believes that the Schafer’s involvement actually predates the Burdines.
  • GOLDSTEIN: 3 members of the Goldstein Family: Margy on flute, Andy as principal cello for many years, and at least one of their children played in the orchestra over the years.
  • HART: Penny and Tim Hart, clarinet and trombone respectively
  • Alan and Lois Whitney: Our concert master and his stand partner
  • The clarinet couple, Beth and Scott Tringali
  • The Kinneys: The orchestra recruiting calls have been responsible for the creation of at least one new Savoyards family over the last decade. As some of you may know, my husband Pat and I met in this very room at this very event while sitting with the Burdines at the Last Supper for ‘94’s Patience. Pat had been playing clarinet in the Savoyards orchestra since the Burdines started managing the orchestra in 1987. They called me the fall after I graduated from college to play in ’94 Patience, having known of me as a musical offspring of a Concord Band couple in the 70’s. We started going out when I was assistant music director of Mikado under David Larrick in ’95 and married and moved to Sudbury 18 months later where we’ve been busy running businesses and raising enthusiastic new Savoyard fans and performers for the tenor and bass sections of the future ever since, with the 3rd such addition on his way in May ‘04.
  • And of course the Burdines themselves

David Larrick Connections: But it is this evening’s other Yeoman of Regard honoree, David Larrick who the Burdines felt privileged to work with more times than any other music director over the years. David conducted 10 of the shows the Burdines played for, and 4 of those they managed. Nancy made a point of saying how thrilled she is that David is also being honored tonight and she and Bill have many very warm associations with David over the years. David did many lovely arrangements of famous classical and even children’s songs like Teddy Bear Picnic that became staples of their quintet’s repertoire. David’s set of variations on Simple Gifts became the Concord Hill Woodwind Quintet’s signature piece that they performed at countless wedding, including David’s and my own.

Perhaps the Burdines favorite wedding gig ever was for Sally and David’s wedding at their home in Maynard. For this event David arranged all the upbeat wedding music from the G&S shows for Woodwind Quintet and String Quintet to perform together.

So tonight the Sudbury Savoyards and the greater Savoyards community offer their heartful thanks to both Nancy and Bill for their years of inspiring service, hard work and dedication to this organization. We honor Bill’s memory and celebrate that Nancy’s continued presence touches the lives of so many avocational musicians in and around our community.

Elizabeth Kinney - 2004

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