I met my partner Patricia Rolston in 1991. I had left Quesnel for Vancouver and had written a variety show and I needed a pianist so that I could pitch the show to George Zuckerman of Overture Concerts. He knew my work through Sarabande (a vocal trio) and I wanted him to represent me again. I asked Pat if she would accompany me for the concert. She is a terrific concert pianist and teacher but had her nose decidedly in the air when she saw that the show was a stew of vocal high points and very low points with a lot of comedy and silliness thrown in. We did the show for George and he told me that he loved the show and would take us into his “stable” of touring shows. She made the decision to go along for the ride, despite her very busy teaching schedule and over the next ten years, she never looked back. George dubbed us “The Two Patricias.” We hit all the “high spots” between Vancouver Island and Nova Scotia and all stops in between…... changing in broom closets; having to scrounge for telephone books so she could reach the pedals; performing by candlelight when the power went out on Saturna; being turfed out of a strip club in Fort Nelson where we’d gone for an after show gin and tonic. Many many wonderful memories. And yes, I finally persuaded “Miss Classical Piano” to wear a cowboy hat for “Sweet Violets” and to do a tap dance. I loved her prodigious talent, her work ethic, her sense of humour and her overall brilliance. Thanks Pat for sharing the road with our two shows as Two Patricias: “A Legacy of Song” and “A Rave Revue.” You have made my life richer and more fun for having known you.
A short story about how I met Mary Levine the pianist...
I had lived in London for 5 years, attending the London Opera Centre and living the singer’s life. Back home, I was touring for Overture Concerts with the Western Savoyards and with Sarabande, a vocal cross-over trio. But when I met Mary, 8 years later, I was living in Quesnel on a farm, being a hippy mum to three kids and operating a restaurant, co-founded with the kids’ dad. I definitely had NO time for singing anymore, especially with three kids under 6 years old and working day and night! But one night, the troupe from the Barkerville Theatre came in for a late dinner. I was cleaning the grill in the kitchen when I heard an unknown woman’s stentorian cry….”who belongs to this music?”. Mary had found my stash of classical music on top of the restaurant piano. I came out from the kitchen, greasy apron and all, and confessed. She sat down on the bench and we proceeded to sing through two hours worth of music. I was in heaven!! This angelic and imperious woman insisted that we make music together (which we began to do immediately} and that when she returned the following summer from Washington State for her on-going gig with the Barkerville Theatre, we would do recitals….. which we did. She revived my parched singer’s soul and for that, I will be eternally grateful. She was larger than life, an incredible musician and I loved her deeply. She kick-started my on-going singer’s journey and when I returned to Vancouver in 1990, my singing life began again in earnest. [Thanks George Zuckerman, Overture Concerts, for remembering me and supporting me in my new incarnation as “The Two Patricias”. ]
But mostly, RIP, Mary Levine, my musical godmother!!