Maestro Marvin: Of thee we sing!

by Alicia Anstead

[gallery link='file' columns='2']Ask Jack Megan, director of the Office for the Arts, to name the most memorable quality about Jameson Marvin, director of choral activities at Harvard, and he says something only a longtime colleague and admirer could get away with: "His mustache!" But give Megan 10 more seconds, and you'll hear an answer that also shows the depth of a longtime colleague and admirer. "Jim is a standard setter," says Megan. "When you go to hear the music making he leads, it's always unfailingly delivered -- wonderful intonation, warm and open vowels, beautifully shaped lines. It lifts above everything; it floats through the room."After 32 years of making music at Harvard with the Holden Choral Ensembles, Marvin retires this year and will be celebrated at a musical gathering 8 p.m. Friday April 30 at Sanders Theatre. But even after Marvin moves into a private life of teaching, directing, composing, reading, researching and gardening, his legacy remains -- in part because Marvin is so devoted and knowledgeable, but also because he has been known to tell students: "I talked to Bach last night and he told me how this piece is supposed to go."
Tenor Charles Bridge '11 describes Marvin as iconic as much for his "outsized and lovable personality" as for his "mastery of choral music."
"He brings an utterly infectious energy to every rehearsal, with the result that it's nearly impossible to avoid coming to love the music as he does," says Bridge. "Ask just about any alumni of the Holden choruses about their time singing under Jim Marvin, and they'll tell you it was one of the most moving and memorable musical experiences of their lives, probably quoting you a few 'Marvinisms' to boot."Mustaches and Marvinisms? Don't take Megan's word for it. Or Bridge's. Or the Crimson's. Or even the three decades of students who have learned and continue to sing in unified, harmonic, rhythmic, textured ways because of Marvin. Go to the source -- the concert Friday night or our video below. You will see why Harvard joins voices this week to say to a trusted and triumphant member of the musical community: Maestro Marvin, of thee we sing!