Tag Archives: pianist

Requiem for Booker T. Gibson

From LONG ISLAND – by Ann Parry (ann-parry.com) 
March 18, 2016

Instead of writing this right now, I’d be at Booker T. Gibson’s funeral at Union Baptist Church in Hempstead, if I’d learned about his March 10th death sooner, rather than a few minutes ago when I read his moving obituary by journalist Scott Brinton.

Merrick, New York, USA. May 27, 2013. Veteran Booker T. Gibson at Annual Memorial Day Parade 2013, hosted by American Legion Merrick Post No. 1282, with ceremony at Merrick Veteran Memorial Park. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

Merrick, New York, USA. May 27, 2013. Veteran Booker T. Gibson at Annual Memorial Day Parade 2013, hosted by American Legion Merrick Post No. 1282. (© 2013 Ann Parry, Ann-Parry.com)

Booker was an active member of the American Legion Merrick Post 1282, and I’m a member of its Auxiliary. We first met on December 10, 2011, at the Northport VA Medical Center, where he played piano to accompany our AL Post members singing Christmas carols to patients. Which was more mesmerizing and expressive: Booker’s big bright eyes, his hands as they played, or his warm personality? I can’t decide.

Close-up of Booker T Gibson's hands as he plays piano at Northport VA medical Center, on Dec. 19, 2011. Light vignette. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, Ann-Parry.com)

Northport, New York, USA. December 19, 2011. Close-up of Booker T Gibson’s hands as he plays piano at Northport VA medical Center to accompany American Legion Merrick Post 1282 singers. (© 2011 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Years ago, filmmaker André Joseph contacted me to license editorial photos for EPYX Productions’ 2013 documentary film on Booker T. Gibson. When we spoke, Joseph’s deep respect for Gibson was clear, as it was later in his 2013 documentary:

AJ EPYX Documentary film:  Book T. Gibson: A Teacher’s Journey

Writing this visual requiem, I feel both sad (quite sad) and profoundly grateful to have known and photographed fellow Merrokean, fellow teacher, fellow lover of music, Booker T. Gibson.

American Legionnaires, Booker T. Gibson at right, riding in classic car in Merrick Memorial Day Parade on May 28, 2012, on Long Island, New York, USA. America's war heroes are honored on this National Holiday. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

Merrick, New York, USA. May 28, 2012. American Legionnaires, Booker T. Gibson at right, riding in classic car in Merrick Memorial Day Parade. (© 2012 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Photos of Booker T. Gibson playing piano

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Duelling Divas’ Humor on the High Cs

From LONG ISLAND – by Ann Parry (ann-parry.com)
May 14, 2010

The Duelling Divas brought Humor to the High C’s during their recent Long Island concert, presented by the Merrick Bellmore Community Concert Association.

MERRICK, NY - February 21: Duelling Divas stars, sopranos Birgit Firavante and Wendy Reynolds - wearing Roman cloaks and singing ?Mira, O Norma? and ?Casta Diva? from Bellini's "Norma" - in comic opera concert presented by Merrick Bellmore Community Concert Association on February 21, 2010 at Merrick, NY. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

Merrick, NY, USA. February 21, 2010.  Duelling Divas, (L-R) sopranos Birgit Fioravante and Wendy Reynolds, singing ‘Mira, O Norma’ from Bellini’s ‘Norma’ – in comic opera concert presented by Merrick Bellmore Community Concert Association. (© 2010 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

Sopranos Birgit Fioravante aka The Baroness and Wendy Reynolds akaLa Bouvier, and pianist Heather Coltman aka Paige Turner are beautiful musicians and inspired comic actresses.

MERRICK, NY - February 21: Duelling Divas stars, sopranos Birgit Firavante and Wendy Reynolds - wearing Roman cloaks and singing ?Mira, O Norma? and ?Casta Diva? from Bellini's "Norma" - in comic opera concert presented by Merrick Bellmore Community Concert Association on February 21, 2010 at Merrick, NY. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

Merrick, NY, USA. February 21, 2010. Duelling Divas sopranos (L-R) Birgit Fioravante and Wendy Reynolds sing from Bellini’s ‘Norma’ – in comic opera concert presented by Merrick Bellmore Community Concert Association at Calhoun High School. (© 2010 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

My mother and my brother John were opera singers, and I remember listening, from the time I was a very young child, to opera playing on the stereo with Mom singing along. Well, I enjoyed the grand opera and grand hi-jinx of the Duelling Divas in Merrick even more than many Metropolitan Opera productions I’ve caught in Manhattan.

What great fun it was seeing southern belle La Bouvier parry The Baroness, who went from regal to fierce to deflated as she emptied her jeweled flask, while Paige Turner valiantly, vainly refereed the Duelling Divas during their überspirited jealous rages.

MERRICK, NY - February 21: Duelling Divas concert with sopranos Birgit Firavante and Wendy Reynolds and pianist Heather Coltman in bloody fight, one using sword to block hatchet swung at her face, in Mad scene from Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" in comic opera concert presented by Merrick Bellmore Community Concert Association on February 21, 2010 at Merrick, NY. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

Merrick, NY, USA. February 21, 2010. In Duelling Divas concert, sopranos (L-R) Birgit Fioravante and Wendy Reynolds thrust and parry in Mad scene from Donizetti’s ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ in comic opera concert presented by Merrick Bellmore Community Concert Assoc. (© 2010 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com)

The Duelling Divas have super loyal fans from throughout the country, and quite a few traveled from Manhattan and beyond to attend the concert and then chat with the Divas afterward. For audience members seeing the Duelling Divas for the first time, many said how surprised they were that the three classical musicians were so funny. Others said how they were surprised the hilarious comic actresses were such accomplished opera singers. Brava, Divas!

MERRICK, NY - February 21: Duelling Divas concert - starring opera sopranos Birgit Firavante and Wendy Reynolds and pianist Heather Coltman - in comic opera concert presented by Merrick Bellmore Community Concert Association on February 21, 2010 at Merrick, NY. (Ann Parry/Ann Parry, ann-parry.com)

Merrick, New York, USA.  February 21, 2: Duelling Divas concert – starring opera sopranos Birgit Fioravante & Wendy Reynolds & pianist Heather Coltman – in comic opera concert presented by Merrick Bellmore Community Concert Assoc.  (© 2010 Ann Parry/Ann-Parry.com,

Jump at the chance to see the Duelling Divas when they charge into your area. Until then, here they are in an interview and opera performance:

Duelling Divas 2010 concert photos:   gallery   |  slideshow

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