Convention 2023

Mu Phi Epsilon Convention - a Bridge Forward

July 19 - 22, 2023
Embassy Suites by Hilton
2401 Bass Pro Drive
Grapevine, TX 76051
Just a reminder to put July 19 – 22 on your new 2023 calendars!
We’ll be hosting the international Mu Phi convention in Grapevine on those dates!
The International Competition will be held from 2-5 pm on July 19, 2023. Sessions on July 20-21, ending session July 22.

Convention Planning

Here are a few things for us to ponder. Dallas chapter will be the host chapter with several duties.

  • We’ll be responsible for decorations at some of the meals.

  • It would be fun to have matching t-shirts for our alumni group.
    Maybe we can discuss this at our next chapter meeting.

  • In addition to a Steinway piano that will be rented, we need a good keyboard in another room.
    If you have one that you’d be willing to share, please let Nancy Laine know.

  • There will be a store that we will help run. All chapters will be invited to bring items to sell.
    These could be items donated by companies and/or members.

  • We need items to put into the goodie bags that each attendee will have.

  • We may be able to find companies willing to donate. (For example, at the convention in San Antonio, Bolner’s Fiesta donated packages of fajita seasoning.) Another alumni chapter (Palos Verdes, I think) will be donating the bags themselves.

  • We could make little welcome baskets for the international officers.
    This is just the beginning. There will be LOTS more opportunities to be involved!

Call for Presenters, Performers, Composers & Poster Sessions

Presenters wanted!
The 2023 International Convention Committee invites you to apply to be a presenter, performer, and/or poster presenter at the 2023 International Convention (July 19-22). Presenters will be selected by the International Executive Board. The submission deadline has been extended to January 30. Apply at:

Members of Mu Phi Epsilon (collegiate and alumni) are encouraged to apply to present on a topic related to their area of expertise. The presentation can be in a lecture, workshop, panel discussion, demonstration, poster, or lecture/recital format.

Applicants must be currently affiliated (dues paid) for the 2022-23 year. Presenters must register for the convention and pay all their own related expenses, e.g., transportation and lodging. The Fraternity regrets that it cannot cover the presenters’ expenses.

See the Fall 2022 Triangle page 4 for more about Presentation Proposals, being a Music Delegate (we will need to select our delegate and music delegate), and performing or having one of your compositions performed. Apply by January 30th to

International Executive Board Officers

President: Kurt-Alexander Zeller
First Vice President, Extension Officer: Liana Sandin
Second Vice President, Collegiate Advisor: Ashley Bouras
Third Vice President, Alumni Advisor: Ann Geiler
Fourth Vice President, Music Advisor: Dr. Rebecca Sorley
Fifth Vice President, Eligibility Advisory: Terrel Kent
Executive Secretary-Treasurer: Jess LeNore
Triangle Editor, Kat Braz

District Conferences

South Central 2 Conference
Dallas Alumni Chapter is part of the South Central 2 District.
Conferences were held in 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2018

"No Shrinking Violets"

by Kurt-Alexander Zeller
1 August 2008
When Mu Phi Epsilon was founded almost 105 years ago on November 13th, 1903, at the Metropolitan College of Music in the uptown Mt. Auburn neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio, the 13 women who were its charter members chose the violet as the new fraternity’s official flower. It was not unusual for a fraternal organization to choose a flower as a symbol (another music fraternity founded that same year has the red American Beauty rose as its symbol), but nobody seems to know exactly why our founders chose the violet.

Perhaps it was merely that it is a well-known flower whose very name is synonymous with purple, the royal hue that had been chosen as Mu Phi Epsilon’s color. But the violet seems an unlikely symbol for the kind of bold endeavor in which those 13 women under the pioneering leadership of Elizabeth Mathias Fuqua were engaged. Indeed, our American English includes the slang phrase “shrinking violet” to describe a person who hangs back, withdraws from involvement with others, avoids shining in the public eye, and is over-cautious and uncommitted. Hardly an image for a group that includes the electrifying Ruslan Biryukov and Mary Au, or the pioneering Dr. Frances Kinne, or even “Dr. Indiana Marcus Jones” and his intrepid seekers of the Onyx Circle.
We musicians also are familiar with an image of the violet presented in “Das Veilchen,” one of Mozart’s most famous songs, in which Goethe’s poem tells of “ein herzigs Veilchen” (a lovable little violet) that is simply delighted to be trampled to death by a passing shepherdess it happens to think is dreamy. It actually rejoices at its own destruction at the hands (or rather, in this case, the clod-hopping feet) of the indifferent object of its affection. Goethe may have called that lovable, but the next century invented a new word for that sort of thing: masochistic. Again, not exactly a desirable role model.

And violets get no respect. Most are rather small of bloom and short of stature, dwarfed by flashier garden divas, like the American Beauty rose I mentioned earlier. They have tiny stalks, so they’re not much use in formal flower arrangements, and guys, take it from someone who’s been there: your Valentine just isn’t going to be impressed with two dozen long-stemmed violets. Other flowers get all the attention. We don’t deck our churches with Easter violets. Nobody ever says, “A violet by any other name would smell as sweet” or “Gather ye violet-buds whilst ye may.” Bobbie Burns dinna say, “O, my love is like a purple, purple violet,” and Tiny Tim did not “Tiptoe through the Violets.”
Yet despite all that, of all our fraternity symbols, the violet is the one I find most inspiring and most appropriate. It exemplifies exactly what I think Mu Phi Epsilon and its members should be. To explain why, perhaps we need a short botany lesson. To begin with, the scientific name of the violet is Viola odorata—and what other flower shares its name with a musical instrument? (One which also, by the way, is frequently overlooked in favor of flashier neighbors but has a rich charm of its own.) Music is our first ideal, and it is suggested even in our mascot flower.

Next, violets have many traits that we in Mu Phi Epsilon value and wish to emulate. The botanical family Violaceae is one of the most wide-spread of flower families. There are over 1000 species. Examples are found on all the world’s continents except Antarctica. There are violet species in the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Polynesia. They’re found in tropical rainforests, on Andean mountain slopes, in the Australian bush, in European meadows, and in Georgia woodlands. Mu Phi Epsilon hasn’t yet reached that level of international distribution, but what a goal to which to aspire in our second century!

And violets are diverse. Despite the stereotype associated with the name, not all violets are purple. Some really are blue, like in the old rhyme. Others are reddish, pink, yellow, white, green, buff, or just about any color except true black. Members of the Viola family come in more different colors than any other flower family, including those of roses. Not only that, but they come in all different shapes and sizes, too. Very many of the Violaceae are the small perennial herbs we think of when someone says “violet,” but the worldwide family also includes larger plants, some shrubs, and even a few trees.

Mu Phi Epsilon, too, has always been a leader in diversity. By decades, we were the first professional music fraternity to become co-educational, and our 30-year history of welcoming the talents and contributions of both female and male members on an equal footing has immeasurably enriched our fraternal bond; we certainly are the only music fraternity with gender parity among its Executive Board’s elected officers, which now consist of 3 women and 3 men.

Even earlier, Mu Phi Epsilon welcomed as collegiate members musicians like Ruth Watanabe and Shirley Verrett (who later became, respectively, the eminent musicologist who oversaw the world-famous Sibley Music Library at the Eastman School of Music and one of the world’s greatest opera singers) at a time in American history when Ruth’s family was being removed from their home on the West Coast and shipped off to internment camps by their own government because of their ethnic heritage and when Shirley’s family were forced to leave their home in the South to escape legal discrimination which saw only the color of their skin. Mu Phi Epsilon, however, looked at these women and saw only the content of their character and the depth of their talent. Even the act of Mu Phi Epsilon’s founding by women in 1903, 17 years before any of them ever would be entitled to vote in a presidential election like this year’s, was a direct challenge to doors that were closed to capable musicians because of who they were, not what they could do. For its entire existence, Mu Phi Epsilon has stood proudly for increasing the diversity, violet-like, within the family of musicians.

And just as the violet family includes herbaceous and woody flowers, shrubs, trees, and just about every kind of plant form, Mu Phi Epsilon includes just about every kind of musician. We are not just performers or just music teachers or just composers; we are all of that—and much more. We are music therapists, music businesspeople, musicologists and arts administrators, and music engineers; we are classical musicians, jazz musicians, commercial-format musicians, and world musicians.

And most meaningful of all to me, as our fraternity’s Alumni Advisor, we in Mu Phi Epsilon are truly diverse in age and experience. We are the fresh-faced, eager (and sometimes puzzled) students just starting our lifetime engagement with music, like those who so beautifully offered our table grace; we are the aspiring young artists, “paying our dues” as our careers are launched that Erie Mills talked about yesterday; we are busy professionals in the hectic midst of active careers, like many of our presenters throughout this convention, and we are wise, experienced hands like our keynote speaker, Dr. Frances Kinne, watching with interest and often aiding the rise of those next generations to whom we will pass on the torch. And all of us are resources for each other, resources of Music, of Friendship, and of Harmony, as long as we continue to be active, engaged participants in the network of collegiate and alumni chapters or Allied Members.

But back to the violet. The violet has more traits that should inspire Mu Phis. Despite what I said earlier about the negative stereotypes that may surround the violet, it turns out that, like any other stereotype, those aren’t true. Shrinking violets? Not even. The real violet is one tough customer, flourishing in conditions other plants find too difficult and cannily adapting itself to however situations unfold. Violets will grow in all kinds of soil and sun, thriving in environments that defeat many less persistent flowers. Deep shade? No problem. The Australian violet species V. hederacea will “bloom profusely where there is scarcely a ray of sunlight from one month to the next.” That tricky area around trees where their roots steal most of the nutrients and water from the soil and layers of fallen leaves tend to choke out most ground cover plants? For violets--No problem! But just you try that with an American Beauty rose—it wouldn’t last any longer than it takes to say “black spot and spider mites.”

When I was growing up in Oregon, violets were the first sign of spring. Before the daffodils, before the forsythia, before the crocus, in the dead of January, sometimes even before the snow had completely melted from all the shadier spots, violets were poking their heads up and starting to bloom—they were determined, tenacious, and tough. They were way out ahead of the curve—long before my grandmother’s garden was a riot of spring flowers, the violets had been soldiering on, doing the work of bringing color and perfume to the yard for a good two months. And even once the flashier flowers started stealing attention and getting more of the oohs and aahs (and my late grandmother’s garden got a lot of those), the violets kept right on blooming: March, April, May, June…. Like Horton the Elephant, a violet’s faithful, one hundred percent. And we in Mu Phi Epsilon likewise treasure faithful loyalty.

Another trait violets have that should inspire Mu Phis is that they spread—rapidly and by whatever means possible. Several gardening books I’ve read even use the word “invasive” to describe them. Violets stop at nothing to increase their numbers. They spread by runners underground, and they spread by dividing, they spread by self-sown seeds, and, if there aren’t sufficient insects to pollinate them, then they will send up specialized flowers that don’t ever open and pollinate themselves to make seeds that way. Violets are passionately devoted to perpetuating and disseminating themselves, and every Mu Phi member and chapter should be, too.

And, if you can say this about a plant, violets are smart—they’re adaptable; they know how to change. Violets often invasively spread into lawns—and once established, they’re almost impossible to get rid of (another trait that Mu Phis would do well to emulate). And if violets growing on a lawn have all their long-stemmed flowers mown off, the same plants will almost immediately send up a new crop of flowers on little short stems that will survive the next mowing. Responding to changing circumstances by changing itself, its bylaws, its operations, and its traditions has been one of Mu Phi Epsilon’s great strengths over its first century, and it is a trait we will need to keep if we are to have a Bicentennial Convention in 2103.

Finally, violets are the friendliest, most helpful, and giving flowers around. Viola odorata is a highly useful plant. It’s completely edible. Its leaves can be used as salad greens, and its flowers as edible garnishes. (I hope you noticed the violets on your salad this afternoon and have taken the opportunity to make violets, as Dr. Kinne might say, part of your DNA.) When cooked, the leaves can be used to thicken soups (giving the plant the nickname of “wild okra” in some parts of the USA). The flowers are often candied and used to decorate desserts, and are considered quite a delicacy. People in earlier times used violets for a number of medicinal purposes.

And then there’s the perfume. A whole field of violets goes into some of the rarest and most expensive perfumes in the world, and one little bloom of Viola odorata can fill a whole room with a wonderful fragrance. Ounce for ounce, it’s far more powerful than that American Beauty rose, but the friendly violet will never stab you in the thumb with its thorns. That’s true Harmony, and if each member of Mu Phi Epsilon looks to the violet for inspiration, the sweet perfume will scent our thorny paths (as the original words of “Our Triangle” read) and fill a whole world with Music, Friendship, and Harmony.