NEW YEAR'S EVE, 1960. Cocktail party hosted by Alice & C.H. Mullen
at their home on Waite Avenue. This classic photo features Alice at the
keyboard in kelly green lace, Theda Burkey in white organdy, Betty De Long
(standing, left) in a black sheath, and other party guests. -Polaroid snapshot
HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM ALICE'S ARCHIVES!
This blog is dedicated to the memory of Alice Mullen, who served as Kalamazoo Symphony
Principal Keyboard, piano soloist, board member, and two-time KSO Board Chairman in a
career that lasted nearly 40 years, from the mid-1950s until her retirement in 1991.
After Alice passed away in 2006, family members discovered a large box filled with Kalamazoo
Symphony memorabilia consisting of programs, photographs, artifacts, newspaper articles and
reviews that serve as source material for these blog articles and postings.
Alice's Archives chronicles the Kalamazoo Symphony under four conductors: Herman Felber, Jr.,
Gregory Millar, Pierre Hétu, and Yoshimi Takeda.
Title Tabs on the header bar will guide you to the Decade/ Conductor/ Subject that interests you.
Just click on the tab.
You can also search this blog by typing into the field provided in the top left hand corner.
ALSO... Please visit our companion blog ALICE'S ARCHIVES 2 "The Miscellaneous Files" for
shorter postings of an eclectic nature. Here is the link: www.alicesarchives2.blogspot.com .
ALICE'S ARCHIVES: 50 Years of Kalamazoo Symphony Memorabilia
This blog is dedicated to the memory of Alice Mullen (1918-2006), Principal Keyboard of the
Kalamazoo Symphony for nearly 40 years.
After she died, a large box was discovered filled with memorabilia from her years as a pianist and
soloist with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.
Alice's career with the KSO began in the mid-1950s. She began collecting articles, reviews and photos
at that time, and continued collecting long after her retirement in 1991, hence this archive!
The collection chronicles the development of the Kalamazoo Symphony under four conductors:
Herman Felber Jr., Gregory Millar, Pierre Hétu, and Yoshimi Takeda.
The above photograph shows Alice with guest conductor Luis Herrera de la Fuente when she
performed Manuel de Falla's Nights in the Gardens of Spain, Symphonic Impressionsfor Piano and Orchestra, with the Kalamazoo Symphony, January 14, 1964.
* * * *
All items are from Alice's Archives. KALAMAZOO GAZETTE articles and photographs are used
with their permission. Thank you.
Alice's Archivist would like to thank the KALAMAZOO PUBLIC LIBRARY for linking this blog to
their Local History website article: KSO: A Pre-History of the Kalamazoo Symphony (1891-1922).
This excellent article describes the vibrant musical life in Kalamazoo before and after the turn of the
century, before Leta Snow arrived on the scene and re-kindled the idea of a symphony orchestra.
For a comprehensive history of the Kalamazoo Symphony, click on the link below to the KSO website.
Once there, click on the Behind The Music tab, located at the top of the page. When you get to that page, scroll down and click on the tab, History, on the left-hand side.
Author Zaide Pixley has granted permission to quote from her 1997 book, GREAT ENSEMBLE: The Story of the Kalamazoo Symphony. Thank you Zaide!
Mr. Rick Briscoe of ENCORE Magazine has granted permission to quote from various back issues.
Thank you Rick!
PREVIEWS!... Upcoming on Alice's Archives
The postcard shows the stage of the Kalamazoo
Symphony's Starlight Pops concerts, on the
upper deck of Gilmore's Auto Park, at the
corner of South Street and Farmers Alley in
downtown Kalamazoo, (Julys from 1963-1972).
Louis Armstrong and Beverly Sills were among
the greats who performed with the KSO.
Graduation Day, June 12, 1939, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
SHE: A prim and proper engineering professor's daughter and promising piano student.
HE: A self-made B.M.O.C. with a bright future in law.
She was a sorority girl and "townie", living at home while attending the University of Kansas.
He was a boy from a tiny Kansas town, who proctored at the men's residence he called home
while a student at K.U.
Alice and C.H. at the Tennessee Club, University of Kansas, c. 1935.
He was blond and blue-eyed, she was a slim brunette. Alice was prim and proper, until she
discovered cigarettes... and C.H.
Postcard Postmarked 1939 (click on image to enlarge)
They met in Freshman Rhetoric, and were engaged by the time they graduated in 1939.
(click on image to enlarge)
The WWII years saw them in Washington, D.C., where C.H. served in the United States
Army Signal Corps. The newlyweds lived in an apartment in "Buckingham" in Arlington,
Virginia. Alice tended a "Victory Garden" nearby.
He finished his law degree under the G.I. Bill at the University of Michigan. Alice and C.H.
wanted to stay in the Midwest to raise a family, and chose Kalamazoo.
(click on image to enlarge)
Postcard Folio by Curt Teich & Co., Inc., Chicago, U.S.A.
They never looked back. It became their town... and they left their mark.
Alice resumed her piano playing once her daughters were in school. Her piano studies at K.U.
under Bach specialist Jan Chiapusso inspired her to pursue piano performance. She started to
get playing jobs with the Kalamazoo Symphony, and by 1955, became Principal Keyboard.
She played all the piano, celeste, and harpsichord parts, and was concerto soloist six times
before her retirement in 1991.
Sunday in the Park with George (Gershwin), Rhapsody in Blue with the Kalamazoo Symphony, 1961.
Alice and C. H. got to know the community by joining service clubs and becoming members of the
First Presbyterian Church.
C.H. joined Joe Crum and Glenn Allen's law firm, and became involved in city affairs. He acted in
plays at the Civic Theater, joined the Kiwanis Club, and ran for City Commission. He was Vice-
Mayor of Kalamazoo in the early 1960s. A career change took him into trust work for twenty years.
He returned to the law in 1977 when he was appointed judge of Ninth Judicial Circuit, and then ran
successfully in the next election. C.H. served on the bench for ten years, before retiring in 1987.
C.H. and Alice's Christmas Card, 1947 (designed by Alice)
ALICE'S ARCHIVES is a blog dedicated to the memory of ALICE MULLEN (1918-2006).
She was Principal Keyboard with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra for nearly forty years.
When she died in 2006, Alice left behind 50 years of KALAMAZOO SYMPHONY
MEMORABILIA, dating from the 1950s to the year 2000.
The ALICE'S ARCHIVES BLOG is organized by DECADES/CONDUCTORS. Click on
the decade you want, and find PHOTOS, REVIEWS, ARTICLES, PROGRAMS AND ADS.
Check back often for new postings and updates.
All KALAMAZOO GAZETTE reviews, articles and photos are used with their permission.
Thank you. Thanks also to the KALAMAZOO SYMPHONY for their interest in this project,
and to author Zaide Pixley for permitting me to quote from her 1997 book, GREAT ENSEMBLE, The Story of the Kalamazoo Symphony. ____________________________________________________________________________
Alice believed in the power of great symphonic music to uplift the human condition.
She was a musician among musicians, and relished the camaraderie of her orchestra
colleagues. She encouraged the uninitiated to discover the masterpieces of orchestral
literature. She instilled in her children a love of all the arts.
Alice met C.H. Mullen in freshman rhetoric class at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
Alice was a piano major, studying with Jan Chiapusso, and C.H. was earning his degree in
political science and pre-law. They were married in 1942, and moved to Washington, D.C.
where C.H. served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
After WWII, C.H. completed his law degree at the University of Michigan. Wanting to
remain in the Midwest, Alice and C.H. looked at a number of cities and states before
choosing Kalamazoo, Michigan, as the ideal place to settle down and raise a family.
They were impressed with the cultural scene, higher education, and a "blue chip"
business climate. Kalamazoo became their town.
C.H. joined the law firm of Joe Crum and Glenn Allen, Jr., in 1947. The law offices were
located on the top floor of the Kalamazoo Building downtown.
Alice and C.H. got to know their fellow Kalamazooans by joining service clubs and becoming
members of the First Presbyterian Church.
By the mid-1950s, Alice started getting calls from the Kalamazoo Symphony to play piano,
celeste and harpsichord parts when needed. She became Principal Keyboard officially in
1955 under the baton of Dr. Herman Felber Jr. During her career with the orchestra, Alice
was featured as a concerto soloist on six different occasions, starting in 1957.
During her nearly forty years with the Kalamazoo Symphony, she played under Herman
Felber, Gregory Millar, Pierre Hétu and Yoshimi Takeda.
Alice also gave private piano lessons for many years, and accompanied music students
from Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College.
C.H. quickly gained a foothold in the community and made headlines. In 1952, he
singlehandedly diverted Eisenhower's presidential campaign train to make an un-
scheduled whistle stop in Kalamazoo.
C.H. was active in the Jaycees, the Kiwanis Club and the First Presbyterian Church.
He acted in plays at the Civic Theatre, and starred in American Legion variety shows
with fellow lawyers. He served as Vice-Mayor on the Kalamazoo City Commission
from 1961 to 1963, and for two years on the Kalamazoo County Board of Supervisors.
He was hired away from the law firm in 1957 by the First National Bank and Trust Co.
C.H. became a trust officer and a vice-president. C.H. returned to law later in life when
he received a gubernatorial appointment to the bench of the 9th Judicial Circuit Court to
fill a vacancy. He then ran for another term and won. He was circuit judge from 1977-1987.
Being involved in community affairs was a labor of love for Alice and C.H., and they served
on the advisory boards of a variety of organizations over the years. They were both KSO
board members, and were later elected board chairmen, serving separate terms. Alice was
the first woman to become chairman of the symphony board after KSO founder Leta Snow.
Alice and C.H. at the American Symphony Orchestra
League Convention in 1960 in St. Louis. The were on
the KSO's Conductor Selection Committee when Gregory
Millar was hired.
In 1987, Alice and C.H. Mullen were co-recipients of the Red Rose Citation from
the Kalamazoo Rotary Club for 'their devotion to the community's cultural, legal and
educational excellence'. Alice won the Community Medal of Arts Award in 1991
to honor her musical achievements and advocacy of the arts. That same year, Alice
retired from her position as Principal Keyboard with the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.
Alice receives the 1991 Community Medal of Arts Award at a KSO Summer Parks Concert in
Bronson Park. Garrard Macleod, arts award committee member and voice of WMUK-FM
for many years, bestows the honors.
A tangible expression of their dedication to the Kalamazoo Symphony was instituted in 1994,
when Alice and C.H. Mullen created an endowment fund to bring piano soloists to perform with
the KSO each season. The Alice Mullen Distinguished Pianists Endowment Fund is managed
by the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.
Alice and C.H. should also be remembered for the fun they had while working with the best of
the best in Kalamazoo.
Alice was the life of the party, entertaining guests gathered 'round the piano, cocktails in hand.
She was often the "musical director" of original skits performed in honor of someone's birthday.
Alice's seat mate for this snapshot is Dr. Willis Dunbar, Professor of History
at Western Michigan University. "Bill" was a pianist as well as wordsmith.
They had to bring their own piano with them to this particular gathering!
C.H. and Alice teamed up with Kalamazoo City Attorney David Morris, his wife Priscilla,
and Dr. Dunbar to write and direct the "Lawyers' Libels", an annual variety show lampooning
the City Commission and the issues of the day. Lawyer members of the American Legion,
Westnedge Post on East South Street were the featured performers. This string of annual hit
shows ran from 1952 to 1956. The Gazette coverage was generous. Here is a sampling:
(click on article to enlarge)
'CITY OFFICIALS' FORM CHORUS LINE IN LAWYERS' SHOW, 'LIBELS OF 1953'
(From left): Ernest Jordan as Fire Chief Lloyd Curry; Judge Raymond Fox as Twp. Clerk Joseph
Parisi, Jr.; William Culver as Com. Henry Upjohn; David Davidoff as Com. A.J. Mullholland, Sr.;
Judge Donald Anderson as Vice-Mayor Willis Dunbar; John Pikkaart as City Manager C.H. Elliott;
David Morris as Mayor Glenn Allen, Jr.; Robert Borsos as Com. Paul Todd; C.H. Mullen as Com.
Cornelia Robinson; Richard Tedrow as Com. Alvin Little; John Bauckham as City Clerk Marie
Filarski; Roland Huff as City Attorney Richard Paulson; William Sykes as Police Chief Howard
'COMMUNITY SING GETS OFFICIALS, AUDIENCE TOGETHER ON
SEWAGE PLANT SONG'
C.H. Mullen, as Lady Commissioner, Leads Loud-Singing, -Handclapping Chorus.
The Sewer Song is the most famous song that remains. It immortalizes a contentious bond
issue being proposed at that time. Sung to the tune of "Grandma's Lye Soap", it became
one of Alice and C.H.'s "party pieces".
The Mullen family home on Waite Avenue was often the place to be for post-concert parties with
Kalamazoo Symphony musicians, soloists, board members and friends in attendance. The large
side yard was the scene of many receptions after the Starlight Symphony summer pops concerts
in the 1960s. Alice liked to boast that Duke Ellington was a party guest after his performance
with the KSO on the top deck of the Gilmore Brothers department store parking lot.