That’s the ticket
What: Harmony in Our Lives concerts, to benefit school music programs
When: 1:30 and 4:15 p.m. Sunday
Where: Brunelle Performance Hall at Davis High School, 315 W. 14th St.
Tickets: $10 general, $5 students, available at Avid Reader Active, 605 Second St., and at the box office one hour before the first performance
The duo known as Duval Speck — composed of Linda Duval and Cathy Speck — performed at countless local events over the past 20 years. They’ll be honored for their contributions to the Davis music scene at the annual Harmony in Our Lives concerts at 1:30 and 4:15 p.m. Sunday, in performances that will feature a host of choral groups drawing from local schools and the community.
Proceeds from this fundraising event support local music programs.
Cathy Speck has lived in the Davis area throughout her life; Linda Duval lived here for a time, then moved to Switzerland for several years. Speck had heard Duval perform several times, and was very impressed, “but I was too shy to talk to her,” Speck recalled.
Speck became the producer of a long-running, low-key concert series known as Women’s Music Nite, which presented small concerts at the Blue Mango, a vegetarian restaurant/night spot that flourished in the 1980s and ’90s in the building now occupied by Little Prague.
“It was a hopping place, very special,” Speck recalled. “When I heard that Linda was back from Switzerland, I asked her if she wanted to come and play at Women’s Music Nite. And wow, wow, wow — she blew me away.”
Women’s Music Nite took on a life of its own.
“In the beginning, it featured local and regional and Bay Area-ish acts. But we worked very hard, and it started to attract national and international artists,” Duval said. “And when we featured someone well-known, we would get a local person that was just beginning, and they got to play a set before an incredibly supportive audience. That was really special.”
This was before email, so concerts in the series were announced by mailing out postcards to friends and supporters.
“It was an amazing amount of work,” Speck said. “And Linda hauled the equipment to the venue, and brought it back home.”
The two decided to form a duo, “but when we got booked, we had no name. So we just decided to bill ourselves as Duval Speck. We thought about changing it, but the ball was already rolling,” Speck recalled.
Duval Speck performed a mix of original material and covers.
“One thing about us, we did almost every style — songs drawn from Broadway musicals to Steely Dan jazz/rock to Laura Nyro (the New York singer/songwriter perhaps best remembered for ‘Stoned Soul Picnic’) to beautiful folk songs and ballads,” Duval said. “If we liked the song, it didn’t matter what the style was. That was the criteria: if we liked the song.”
“And we sang a lot of harmonies,” Speck added. “They weren’t easy. We’d work on them, to get them really close. We’d call them ‘daring harmonies.’ ”
Duval Speck released an album in 1993 titled “Greeneye Blueeye,” featuring 12 original songs. Then Duval did a solo album, “One Wing Flight.” And then in 2009 came “Thanks for Waiting,” featuring Duval Speck and The Essentials.
“Thanks for Waiting” was recorded in some haste. Speck had been recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS), and wanted to finish one more album while there was time.
“In the recording studio, it became very clear to me that I no longer had the breath power that I used to,” she recalled. “That was upsetting, because music was my passion.”
Duval Speck continued performing until September 2010, including many fundraisers supporting research into ALS.
“We are very surprised that we are being honored with the Harmony in Our Lives award,” Duval said.
Speck added, “I felt we were always embraced, and we embraced the community. It was a very nice energy exchange. I feel very humble and touched that we are getting this award. I do know that I’m dying, but I’m not afraid, I talk about it a lot, and it is nice to get honored and have such warm feelings.”
Sunday’s 1:30 p.m. concert will feature the Willett Elementary School Chorus, Harper Junior High Choir, Emerson Junior High Beginning Choir, Davis High Concert Choir, Emerson Junior High Concert Choir, Davis High Madrigals and West Valley Chorus.
The 4:15 p.m. concert will feature the Pioneer Elementary First- and Second-Grades Chorus, St. James School Choir, Holmes Junior High Choir, Davis High Advanced Treble Choir, Davis High Jazz Choir and West Valley Chorus.
Duval Speck will be recognized at both performances, which are in the Brunelle Performance Hall at Davis High School, 315 W. 14th St. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students, available at Avid Reader Active, 605 Second St., and at the box office one hour before the first performance. These performances often sell out, so early ticket purchase is advised.
— Reach Jeff Hudson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8055. Follow him on Twitter at @JeffHudsonDE
It has been 25 years since the first Harmony in Our Lives award was presented, and the list of past winners amounts to a Hall of Fame listing of people who have played roles in promoting music in Davis, either by leading an ensemble, or organizing performances, or teaching, or some combination of those and other activities. The past winners are:
1987 Ida May Harter
1988 Richard M. Brunelle
1989 John Draper
1990 Dorothy West
1991 Fredrick Lange
1992 Margaret Neu
1993 Rachel Kessler
1994 No award given
1995 Martha Dickman
1996 Nancy Adams
1997 Anne Gibbs
1998 No award given
1999 Lawrence “Larry” Snyder
2000 Davis Musical Theatre Company
2001 Mary Klisiewicz
2002 Stephen Peithman
2003 Celia Cottle
2004 Bob Gonzalez
2005 Karen Gardias
2006 Vivian Meyer
2007 Jan Coker
2008 D. Kern Holoman
2009 Mindy Manville
2010 Claudia Krich
2011 Angelo Moreno
2012 Davis Pickers and Singers