Mu Phi Epsilon
Dallas Alumni Chapter

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Greetings, Mu Phi friends!  

Hope you had a great Christmas season!

So far, it seems that 2022 is off to a wild start – weather swinging from hot to cold and back, airline flights cancelled, COVID cases on the
rise, etc.

Although I hate to do it, it seems that scheduling our upcoming January meeting as a virtual-only meeting is the prudent thing to do at this
time. So while we’ll have to pass on refreshments again, we will be able to meet together on Zoom and hear songs by two of our own
composers, Julie Schmitt and Sam Melnick!

Looking forward to seeing your smiling faces next Monday night!

Nancy Laine


Our theme for this year is “Back in the Swing.” (Or maybe it should be “Swinging Back”??)

Monday January 10, 7 pm

January - Bring on the New Year!
Monday, January 10 – 7 pm
Location:  CHANGE to Location: Zoom
Zoom Host: Debbie Brooks

Link emailed to members. Guests may get a list by requesting one from Mary at

Program: Sam Melnick's compositions

Julie Schmitt's compositions
            "On Aging" text by Maya Angelou
            "Indispensable Man" also known as "The Hole in the Water."
            "Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming," sung by soprano Jenni Rasberry

Maybe some surprises!


February - Swinging with Musician Friends

Joint meeting with SAI - we are hosts
Tuesday February 15- 7 pm
Location: Custer Road United Methodist Church,
   6601 Custer Rd, Plano, TX 75023
Host: Mu Phis; Mary Williams reception coordinator

Program: Claudia Jameson, soprano
                  Kimla Beasley, soprano
                  Chris Brunt, organ
                  SAI performers: Lindsay Gillis, piano –
                      "Suite from Downton Abbey"
                  Sienna Priddy, soprano

NOTE: If our Omicron situation does not change, we will get to back to everyone.

NOTE: Pat Suitt will host the March meeting, rather than the January meeting.  


November - Celebrations Swing!

We met in person and on Zoom on Monday, November 15 at the home of Claudia Jameson
Tena Hehn and Sandra McMillen served as co-hosts. Debbie Brooks hosted the Zoom version
Yearbooks were distributed to those in attendance. The rest were mailed. Please contact Mary Williams ( if you did not receive yours.

We sang Happy Birthday to Debbie Brooks and to Mu Phi Epsilon – now 118 years old. Nancy Laine led the open Founders Day Ritual and group singing of Our Triangle.

The delightful program featured librettist Claudia Jameson of Mary Alice Rich’s opera Anam the Witch and Beatrice the Beautiful that will be presented by the Diversitá Opera Company on our Concert Series on April 10th. Claudia told us the plot of the children’s story on which the opera is based. She described the complex role of Anam, the witch, who was really a misunderstood “curandera” and the other characters in the opera.

Mary Alice Rich talked about composing the opera, peppering it with lively Mexican themes in keeping with the setting. Claudia and accompanist Susan Poelchau presented short segments of the opera. Suggestions from the group included applying for Mu Phi grants to help fund this opera and producing it in schools.

There was no meeting in December.


Our program chairs Mary Ann Taylor and Amy Canchola are still open to those who would like to perform and to co-host. Let one of them know if you are available.

Remember, we will be hosting the joint MPE-SAI concert in February in Plano - we are all responsible for the goody table.

Newsletter / Website

Your Newsletter Editor Mary Williams at, appreciates knowing what you are doing or if you have changes to your information. Your news is our news. Our next Newsletter deadline is February 28.

This newsletter will be on our website in a day or two. Answers to your questions are there!


Tena Hehn replaced Frances Estes as Sunshine Chair over the summer. Her hand is slowly recovering.

Claudia Jameson is now Sunshine Chair and passed around a sheet for us to sign with our birthday month and day, not year. (If you haven't told her when your birthday is, send her an email with that information – You don't need to include the year.) Claudia enjoyed a wonderful Christmas in Oregon with her SanAntonio and Wooster, OH family. All came to meet her granddaughter Delainey Rae. It snowed heavily and they all had fun in it!

Susan Poelchau visited daughters and grandchildren in Colorado.

Amy Canchola is heading to New York in January to sing at the NATS winter workshop. She was chosen to sing for three of the classes (links below).

   *Musical Theatre masterclass with Judy MacLane.

   *German Lieder masterclass with Nils Neubert

   *Italian masterclass with Nicolo Sbuelz

Amy and Charbel Yubaile, another scholar of Mexican music, have been selected to present at the 2nd annual Sam Houston State University Art Song Festival. Their topic is the "Foundations of Mexican Art Song."

   *Sam Houston State art song festival

Their Highland Park High School students will be singing their Solo and Ensemble pieces soon and will present these performances in a recital the end of January. In preparation, the choral department is hosting Dr. Amelia Rollings Bigler for a masterclass.

Yay Amy!

Mary Williams attended Texas A&M graduation in December to see her first granddaughter, Nicole, get her Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering. So proud of her!

Get to know Nancy Laine a little better by reading the Interview with her – last page.



While all our concerts have been excellent this fall, we now look forward to spring, still virtual as the downtown library is not open on Sundays at this time. We have an interesting lineup of performers – some who have been with us before, and a few new ones. There will be a few additions to this schedule:  a different harpist, and a few accompanists.

On April 10th, the Diversita opera company (Walteria Caldwell, director) will present on our Concert Series the opera "Aram and the Witch and Beatrice the Beautiful" with libretto by Claudia Jameson, music by Mary Alice Rich. Claudia will direct it and Susan Poelchau will accompany.

Please support our series by watching on Facebook, YouTube or through our Concert Series page. Tell your friends, colleagues, students, family and friends. Links to bios and programs appear on our website’s Concert Series page.


By Mary Williams

From time to time your newsletter editor interviews one of our members so we can get to know each other better. This month’s interview was not done in person, sadly, but Nancy is great online too. So here are her answers to my questions.

Q. For those who don’t know you well, tell us about your family and how you got started in music.

A: I grew up in Oak Cliff with 3 younger brothers. After 1st grade, I started taking piano lessons with Betty Zumwalt, who lived behind the alley. I was her first student, and I had really long lessons, probably because my mom was watching her 3 younger kids while she taught me. Soon my best friend (also named Nancy) also started taking with Betty. We got to learn all the fun pieces (Alley Cat, Third Man Theme, 76 Trombones, etc.), and we frequently got to perform during “auditorium class” in elementary school.

When I was in 5th grade, we moved, and I started taking with Bea Carney (remember her from Mu Phi?) and eventually from Lois Nielson. I started accompanying band friends for Solo & Ensemble in junior high, as well as accompanying the choir and the annual musicals. I remember looking at the score for Brigadoon and remarking to my year-older mentor, “There’s no way I can learn all those notes.” She gave me my first lesson in sight-reading – “you just figure out which notes are most important and play those.” (These days, it seems like adults do most of the accompanying in schools. While I love accompanying, I sometimes wonder if I’m not cheating some student out of an invaluable learning experience.)

Q: You are a pianist and an organist. Do you have a preference on what you play?

A: I love the instant response I know that I’ll get when I play a piano. But I also love the great sounds that can come from the organ (assuming I’ve set it up correctly and press the right buttons!) For most of my life, I considered myself a pianist playing the organ.It wasn’t until I moved to San Antonio that I really got serious about learning the organ. A friend encouraged me to join AGO (American Guild of Organists) and work on certification.

Q: When did you join the Dallas Alumni Chapter and what has this association meant to you?

A: After I graduated from SMU, I moved to Duncanville and began teaching piano. I met Tena Hehn through Dallas Music Teachers Association. It wasn’t long until Tena invited me to a Mu Phi meeting. I already knew some of the alumni who had helped with the Mu Chi chapter (Edie Pfautsch, Frances Stuart, etc.), so I agreed to tag along. I remember being inspired that these “old” people (who I’m sure were much younger than I am now!) still enjoyed making music together. In particular, I remember Katharine Riddle and Tennie Lengel playing together at least once a year. I can’t think of a better way than being a Mu Phi to keep music, friendship, and harmony as integral parts of my life!

Q: You have been president of the Dallas chapter, the San Antonio chapter, and now the Dallas chapter again. First of all – thank you, thank you! for taking this office. What do you see as the most rewarding parts of leadership in MPE and the most frustrating parts?

A: The most rewarding part is definitely the life-long friendships with people who share the love of music. It’s funny that being a Mu Phi is one of the things that helped me decide to move to San Antonio in 2000. Our beloved Wynona Lipsett, who was International President at the time, had decided to have the 2001  convention in San Antonio, even though there was no local alumni chapter. I had a nice promotion offer in San Antonio with Southwestern Bell, and I was also intrigued by the possibility of starting an alumni chapter to help
host the convention. Our first get-together was during the TMEA convention in 2000. What fun we had building friendships in a new chapter and working toward that convention!

As far as frustration, COVID restrictions rank on up there. I’m thrilled that we were able to get going virtually. It’s been so fun getting back together in person this fall, but it looks like we may have to start over again for a while.

Q: You had another part of your life with a career at Southwestern Bell in Dallas and in San Antonio. What did you do for this company and what did it do for you?

A: Yes, I spent 40 years at Southwestern Bell/AT&T. I started with a summer job (thanks to my Dad, who also worked at SWBT over 40 years) as a PBX traffic engineer. I spent many years in Forecasting (predicting growth in various areas). The most fun positions I had were in Marketing, where I got to be creative with various programs. Even at work, I found ways to use music. I played piano for 25 years for the Bell Singers, a group of employees who practiced at noon and sang regularly at nursing homes and community events. When I moved back to Dallas in 2015, the group no longer existed, so we started it again just in time for Christmas caroling. My daughter now works for AT&T, so the company is certainly woven into our family.

Q: What other interests do you have besides music? How do you like to spend your time?

A: Well, it seems like music is in almost everything I do these days. I lead 30 minutes of singing at Treasured Times, a weekly Alzheimer’s respite program at church. It’s so rewarding to see some people, who seemingly can’t remember anything, start singing along! We have a different theme each week (like Football or Big Band or Halloween), so it keeps me on my toes coming up with music to use! Mom and I also participate in Seniors on Stage, who do little skits (with lots of singing) weekly at various nursing homes.

Q: What are you most proud of in your life?

A: My two children. Chris is a wonderful classical guitarist (although he still also does the hard rock bit on occasion!). Laura is an engineer at AT&T, but also can still play every clarinet piece she ever learned without music. (How come both of my kids got such good ears, but I’m lost without a musical score?!)

Q: What else we should know about you?

A: Maybe that I’m a bit long-winded?

Thank you Nancy!



Contact Information
President / General Information - Mary Ann Taylor:
Website - Mary Williams:
Concert Series - Kimla Beasley:
VP/Membership - Lisa Beyer:
Programs - Amy Canchola:

Mu Phi Epsilon International: