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Arts profile

Marsha Buck: Juneau Pride Chorus

Posted: Thursday, March 02, 2000

Stevie Wonder's music teacher: Marsha Buck, 57, grew up in Wisconsin. She started college at Michigan State University as a music major and ended up working in special education after getting a degree in music therapy.

In the mid-1960s, she taught music to visually-impaired students at the Michigan School, where she was Stevie Wonder's music teacher for two years.

``It was his junior and senior years in high school,'' she said. ``He was already a millionaire, but he was learning Braille music. All the things he did to become famous didn't involve reading music, because his ear was so good.''

Former flier: Buck moved to Alaska in 1968 and worked at Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, where she taught aviation and music.

``In my Sitka days, I flew a lot. I haven't flown in years,'' she said.

She first moved to Juneau in 1981. She served as a special education teacher, school administrator and elementary school principal in Anchorage as well.

She has two daughters, and one is due to have a baby any time, she said.

Not a horn: Besides directing two choirs, Buck plays oboe and English horn with the Juneau Symphony.

``I don't know why they call it that, since it's not English and it's not a horn. It's actually a tenor version of the oboe,'' she said.

Juneau Pride: On national ``Coming Out Day'' in 1997, Buck founded the Juneau Pride Chorus, which she currently co-directs with Leslie Wood. The idea came out of a PFLAG planning meeting (Parents, Families and friends of Lesbians And Gays).

``We're straight, bi-sexual and lesbian, but we're allies,'' she said. ``The common bond of the group is we love to sing. We share the joy of music and also offer some advocacy at the same time.''

Initially, the choir was to include men and women, but no men showed up. She said at this point the repertoire is all music arranged and composed for women's voices, so members have decided to keep it a women's chorus.

New Music: The international group GALA (Gay and Lesbian Association of choruses) recently awarded a grant to the Juneau Pride Chorus to compose a song. Chorus member Susan Warner wrote the words and music, while Buck and members of the chorus arranged it and added harmonies. They debuted the song, ``What Livin' is for,'' last Sunday at the Unitarian Fellowship services.

Since 1991, Buck has also directed the choir at Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church.



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