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Marian Vafiades

Marian Vafiades was born on March 23, 1923 and grew up in Milton, MA.  She attended the Boston University Summer School and New England Conservatory. She graduated in 1945 with a Bachelor of Music degree with a concentration in school music. She entered NEC as a trumpet player but switched to the French Horn, which she studied under William Valkenier.

During WWII, she played for USO tours that featured Claudette Colbert and Joe E. Brown. While at NEC, Vafiades had the opportunity to work with Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, performing Copland’s El Salon Mexico and Second Hurricane.

About Marian Vafiades

Vafiades taught for two years for the Army and twenty-seven years elsewhere including for settlement houses, prisoners, hospital patients, private schools, public schools etc. For two years, Vafiades worked for the Maine Seacoast Mission, traveling by boat to the outer islands.

Along with Sarah Caldwell, Vafiades co-founded Opera New England of Northern Maine. She served two terms on the Maine Arts Commission and three years for the National Endowment for the Arts. She has been asked to adjudicate for the Massachusetts Council for the Arts, the Maine Arts Commission, the NEA, and the NJ Arts Council in selecting arts organizations to receive grants. Vafiades founded and directed the Bangor Community Chorus for over twenty years and has helped to organize many festivals in northern Maine.

Marian was married to Bangor native Lewis Vafiades, who had his own international law practice. Mr. Vafiades passed away in 2001. Marian passed away unexpectedly at her home in October 2011.

Source: Bangor Daily News, October 11, 2011.

Marian Vafiades Archives

The Marian Vafiades Papers include three folders of paper materials and one oral history interview recorded on CD.

The paper materials in this collection were donated to the NEC Archives by Marian Vafiades between 2007 and 2009. The oral history interview was conducted with Marian Vafiades on May 18, 2007 at Spaulding Library.

Access to the Marian Vafiades Papers can be arranged by making an appointment with the Archivist. Appointments must be scheduled in advance. There are no restrictions pertaining to this collection.

All copyrights to this collection belong to the New England Conservatory. Permission to publish materials from this collection is granted by the Archivist. This collection should be cited as: NECA 18.32. Marian Vafiades Papers, New England Conservatory Archives, Boston, MA.

The Marian Vafiades Papers are organized into three series:

  1. Oral History
  2. Memoirs/Memorabilia
  3. 50th Reunion Letters, Classes of 1944-1946

The oral history was recorded in an interview at NEC with Marian Vafiades on May 18, 2007 conducted by Jean Morrow and Maryalice Perrin-Mohr.  The transcript of the interview (along with some additional annotations from Marian Vafiades) is included with the collection.

The memoir includes many pages of memories about NEC compiled by Marian Vafiades interspersed with clippings, photos, bills/receipts, correspondence from classmates and concert programs. There are several additional concert programs that are loose. The loose items (programs, photographs, clippings) are housed in envelopes with the memoirs

Topics covered include: pre-NEC days; WWII classes; faculty members; orchestra; chorus; choral class; opera; orchestral class; musical exposure; NEC and television; memorials – WWII; music therapy; music education; observing and practice teaching; NEC as USO entertainers; NEC, 1941-1945, salaries (general and musicians); student finances (education/living expenses); various available job opportunities for young musicians (detailed with information/programs of local symphonies and choruses and the New England Music Camp); salaries for young musicians; discrimination at that time; music-related texts; information about specific classmates; and entertaining stories from her days at NEC. Lastly, included with the memoirs series are Marian Vafiades’ resumes.

The 50th Reunion booklet was compiled by Marian Vafiades from letters of NEC alumni from the WWII period, who had been contacted by Vafiades to send their recollections. This booklet includes letters from the following alumni: Dr. James R. Anthony, Elizabeth Goober Bernheimer, John Boomer, Ann Very Elmquist, Sylvia Katz Factor, Olivia Reeves Fernandez, Ann Duffie Fleck, Alvin K. Fossner, Ruth Gevalt Glazer, LaReine Otten Hellerman, Dr. Merie J. Haggans Hill, Betty Ann Judge Hotham, Richard Hyatt, Sheila Hoskins Irwin, Rose Palmerie La Torre, Bessie Andrea Rouvalis Manus, Elizabeth Lambert Martin, Izzie Butterfield Nichols, Eleanor Tower Norris, Alice O’Brien, Barbara Foss Roberts, Saima Laycox Ruby, Lee Rudd Ryan, Lois Schaefer, Dorothy Gunther Smith, Barbara Weinstein Schwartz, Winifred Mitenus Sullivan, Gertrude (Trudy) Woodard Taylor, Betty Wood Thomas, Madeleine Merrill Towle, Marian Vafiades; and thirteen anonymous submissions.

Series 1:  Oral History

Folder 1 – Oral History recording and transcript

Series 2 – Memoirs/memorabilia compiled by Vafiades

Folder 2

Clippings and photographs interspersed throughout the memoir include

  • Photo of the NEC orchestra (clipping)
  • Photo of pit orchestra for Irving Berlin’s “This is the Army” (copy of clipping)
  • Photo of Ernst Levy, composer and Francis Findlay with students Wayne Barrington and Marian Jaques (clipping)
  • Photo of Francis Findlay
  • Photo of the music education students in 1944
  • Newspaper article, headline: 88 Milton Lives Lost in Service
  • Photo from newspaper (copy): Sarah Caldwell with Marian Vafiades (re: Opera New England)

Interspersed NEC Concert programs included:

  • November 5, 1942: NEC Orchestra (features Copland’s El Salon Mexico)
  • December 22, 1942: NEC Orchestra (features Quincy Porter’s Poem and Dance)
  • December 15, 1942: NEC Chorus and Brass Ensemble
  • January 25, 1944: NEC Orchestra and Women’s Chorus

Folder 3

Loose Programs (NEC):

  • December 3, 1943: NEC Orchestra
  • December 6, 1944: NEC Orchestra
  • March 21, 1945: NEC Orchestra 
  • March 27, 1945: Song recital by Nancy Trickey
  • May 10, 1945: Concert for Advanced Students
  • May 23, 1945: Concert by Zeta Chapter, Alpha Chi Omega (2 copies)
  • June 19, 1944: Conservatory Night at Pops
  • 50th Reunion invitation, May 21, 1995

Loose programs (other):

  • December 12, 1944: Reading Symphony
  • December 24, 1944: Messiah Lutheran Church, Roslindale
  • April 11, [no year given]: Philharmonic Society of Arlington
  • April 24, 1945: The Melrose Orchestral Association
  • Tremont Temple Songs Number 3 (booklet of hymns)
  • October 6, 1945: Boston Symphony Orchestra

Loose clippings/Bills/Receipts/memorabilia

  • Feature article on Marian Vafiades from the Bangor Daily News, January 24, 1985
  • NEC Tuition Bill, September 9, 1941
  • NEC Tuition Receipt, November 15, 1941
  • Ticket to Senior Class concert, June 18, 1943
  • Marian Jaques’ ID cards from the academic years 1942-1943, 1943-1944, 1944-1945
  • Invitation to Class Day, June 12, 1942

Loose Photographs:

  • Photo of Marian Vafiades at the age of 7
  • Photo of Vafiades with classmates Dorothy Gunther, Barbara Foss Roberts and Mary Keeley, 1941
  • Photo of students apple picking: Barbara Foss, Mary Keany, Marian Vafiades, Betty Wood, 1943
  • Two photos of Vafiades with classmates, 50th reunion (1995); One includes Vafiades with Barbara Weinstein, Barbara Foss, and Bessie Rouvalis; the other includes Vafiades with Eleanor Tower Norris and Sylvia Katz Factor

Series 3: 50th Reunion Letters

Folder 4

  • 50th Reunion Booklet, Classes of 1944, 1945, and 1946