|Dawn Marie Calista|
A bit about Dawn's musical background, in her own words:
From fourth grade until high school graduation in 1971 I was fortunate to study violin with Professor Margaret Wiles. She lived on the grounds of Connecticut College in New London, CT with her campus minister husband. She was a wonderful teacher and personal mentor. Her credentials included playing in a string quartet that performed a weekly radio show in South Africa during the war.
When did you start playing the violin? Age 8, third grade – My first teacher Mr. Thayer was the principal trumpet for the Coast Guard band. He once admitted that he read two pages ahead in Tune a Day Book One before he gave my lesson. Dare I say I’ve been playing for almost 50 years?
Why did you choose your instrument? My first choice was drums. My second was violin. My grandmother had a violin I could use. There were no drums in the family! We were too poor to buy anything else.
Are you from a musical family? None of my relatives were professional musicians. Mom plays piano and organ. Her mother and her mother’s brother played piano and violin, as was the custom in Québec when they were growing up. Dad played the radio! His mother’s brother played violin well enough to play in a pit orchestra in NYC. Uncle George’s main occupation was race car driving, though. He died in a race crash when he was about 30 years old. We’re talking 1930’s racing in a black metal car wearing a leather coat and helmet, goggles, and neck scarf. I have pictures!
Do you play any other instruments? Not really. I can demonstrate several instruments to beginners. I can play hymns on a piano if they are in the key of C, G, or D. Given these constraints, I’ve been known to play at small churches without accompanists.
What makes your instrument special? I think what intrigued me about the violin was the different sounds it can make, depending on the style of the music. My grandmother played folk tunes from Canada with a wiggly finger vibrato. The violin playing garbage man became my mother’s friend when they played old fashioned tunes together: “Meet Me in St. Louis”, “Ave Maria”, “Nobody Knows d’ Trouble I’ve Seen”. Once a month the Fiddle club performed in CT: jigs, reels, foot-stomping wonderful music. Erica Morini was the first female professional violinist I ever heard. Her sound was so sweet and beautiful; I was hooked.
What advice would you give to kids learning to play your instrument? Playing the violin is easy if you practice. It’s like reading words. You learn to read at school and practice in reading groups. You practice at home and get help from people who read better than you do. Violin is the same. You learn to play at school and practice in orchestra class. You practice at home and get help from expert teachers. How good do you think you’d be at reading if you only read for two half-hours a week?
If you could play a different instrument, what would it be? Viola. I actually prefer harmony and lower tones. Second violin is almost low enough. I didn’t change to viola in high school because only students who couldn’t play violin well enough played viola. (BoooHoo!) Now I don’t change because the instrument is too big and too heavy for my older body.
Favorite composers? Stravinsky – Bernstein - Copland
Funny Musical Experience? TSO, 1812 Overture, the “clap to find your keys” gizmo went off in my stand partner’s pocket when the percussionists played the canon notes! He was SOOO embarrassed.
Most exciting musical moment? Personally: Sixth grade, end of year school district string orchestra concert in the junior high auditorium. I played a solo from memory with Mom accompanying on the piano. At the end of the piece the audience clapped and clapped. I was unprepared for my feelings. I walked off stage and tears of joy fell from my eyes, not because they liked it, but because I liked it. Mom and the music teacher had to prod me to get me to go back for bows.
Professionally: TSO, Maestro Bill McGlaughlin conducted Elgar. At the end, the orchestra stood. I looked around and several other musicians were also wiping their eyes.
What might your career be if you hadn’t chosen to be a musician? Accountant. I like math and being organized.
Hobbies: Coupon shopping for less fortunate Tucsonans; making jewelry; scuba diving; traveling
Hometown: Norwich, CT
Interesting personal fact: I went to the Norwich Free Academy (NFA) for high school. At the time the school campus had 13 buildings. My graduating class numbered 667. Norwich was once the 10th largest city in America. The first Headmaster started a free public school. He sent three artists out into the world to collect original artwork from every era for his school Museum. Only two plaster castings have ever been made of the Pieta; my high school has one. The incredible art collection can be seen on the school’s website. -- The town still has no other high school. It sure has school spirit and a very active, contributing alumnus.
What are your favorite movies? Wizard of Oz, Dirty Dancing, Prince of Tides, Harry Potter series
What good book have you read most recently? The Case for Christ by Strobel – Author travels the world meeting with experts in the religion, archeology, sociology, etc. during the time Christ is supposed to have lived. His intent is to objectively gather the facts to prove or disprove that a man called Christ walked the earth.
Favorite Tucson restaurant: La Miniditos
Three favorite possessions: My violin, my grandmother’s jewelry, my two gray Sphinx cats