Yesterday, I met with baritone Arthur Burrows in his Somers, NY home. I have been wondering about this gentleman for nearly two years: where is he? Is he still living? How will I find him?
Arthur Burrows and Jan sang together during their Juilliard days in Norman Lloyd’s Saturday morning vocal ensemble class (dubbed the Belles and Beaus, Arthur tells me). The Riverside Chamber Singers developed out of that Juilliard class. They both studied with Sergius Kagen. Arthur introduced Jan to Noah Greenberg who hired her as the only female vocalist in the five-member acapella group he was building around Arthur, The Abbey Singers.
Jan and Arthur sang together a lot in the 50’s and 60’s, mostly in The Abbey Singers, but their connection started more than a decade before this; they both grew up in the small industrial town, Massillon, Ohio, sang in the high school choruses and musicals, and starred in his senior show, The Mikado. Even after Jan left The Abbey Singers, she and Arthur remained friends for life.
Today, I helped Carole Cowan go through more boxes and photographs and cassette tapes and CD’s in the beautiful home on the Hudson she shared with Phil West. We sorted papers and scores. Probably more than 100. From one box, she pulled a thick score, handed it to me, saying, “This is going to make you happy.” I squealed. I had just told her the story of Jan’s and Arthur’s (and Jan’s sister Louanne’s–stay tuned!) performances in this operetta and here was her score. But it wasn’t. It was someone else’s, a girl named Betty. A quick look at the names written in the score confirm that this was not the cast Jan and Arthur were a part of, but I have decided to believe that this may have been a recycled score from an earlier production, the very one she held in her young hands and studied.
OK. I have to stop thinking of this as serendipity. Fate? Probably not. Just evidence that I am on the right path. Alignment is my word of this year.
For instance, is it really serendipity–fate–accident that I book an interview with Jane Bryden, spend a couple hours talking and reminiscing with her, and she asks, “Have you talked with Arthur Burrows?” And when I tell her I thought he was deceased she shouts, “He is not deceased! Here’s his address.” The first and only person to have known his whereabouts, and I didn’t even ask.