Messenger - Vol. 3, No. 3, Page 14
Spring 1994
Tales told out of school

Mary Woodmansee Green, Delaware '68, is the director and conductor of
the Kennett (Pa.) Symphony Orchestra, which frequently performs at
Longwood Gardens, the world famous 1,050-acre horticultural exhibit in
Longwood, Pa. She is the founder and former director of the
Philadelphia Festival Chorus. Green was inducted into the Alumni Wall
of Fame in 1985, and resides with her husband in Huntingdon Valley,

     Mary Woodmansee Green grew up in Newark, Del. She remembers
playing in back of Newark Junior High School (now Pearson Hall on the
campus) and sledding in the fields where Harrington Residence Hall
Complex currently stands. At Newark High School, she sang and
accompanied the school choirs, under the direction of Jane Cooper.
After directing her own madrigal group in high school, Green decided
she wanted to pursue orchestral directing as a career.
     Attending the University of Delaware was a natural step for
Green, who entered the Department of Music in 1964. "I would walk
around the campus and see professors I knew because my parents had
invited them over for dinner."
     She chose Delaware for reasons other than its proximity to home.
"I thought that going to a smaller university would give me the
opportunity to explore beyond the piano," she says. Green describes
the music department as intimate. "We were invited to professors'
homes, and we regularly would have little recitals at the house of my
music professor, Mildred Gaddis.
     "We had a music camp for a week before school started, and that's
how all the musicians in the choir and band got to know one another.
Most members were not music majors. Music majors had to be committed
to the practice room. My senior recital, which was an hour and a half
long, was terrifying and very memorable. I was not going to be a
concert pianist, so I had to work especially hard before the recital,"
she says.
     Although Green was the accompanist for the college choir, under
the direction of Ivan Tressler and Joseph Huszti, her interest still
remained in conducting. Green began to study brass, winds and
percussion, while taking an orchestral conducting class. The
University itself, however, did not have an orchestra.
     "For an orchestra, you have to have strings, and to have strings,
you really have to have a performance-oriented curriculum. For the
most part, it was a tiny music department, and if someone wanted to go
ahead and be a performer, they would go to a conservatory," Green
     She recalls one of the most exciting moments at the University
was when she had an opportunity to conduct the concert band in two
movements of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony.
     Green says she liked being in a liberal arts program; she calls
herself a "cross-over" student. She became involved with the E-52
Theatre program, acting and helping with costuming.
     "I was able to be a part of the U.S.O. tour of Kiss Me Kate in
1965. It was co-sponsored by the University's theatre department and
the U.S. State Department. I was the accompanist, and 17 of us
traveled around Germany to Army bases. During one show, we were about
halfway through the first act, when a quiet voice in back said,
'Alert!' All of a sudden, we saw tanks rolling in, and the hall
quickly emptied. The troops dropped everything, got into battle gear
and went out for about 50 hours of field exercises! We stopped
performing when we realized that no one was coming back!"
     Experience with E-52 helped Green enhance her performances with
the choirs and orchestras she now conducts, she says. "I can speak to
the audience better, do short scenes from musicals and operettas, even
help in choosing the costumes."
     The University helped Green, she says, to acquire knowledge about
various instruments necessary to a conductor, allowing her to hone her
conducting skills before she trained with Robert Page of Temple
University. Since then, she has been involved in and conducted many
different essembles.
     Of her instrumentalists in the Kennett Symphony Orchestra, she
says: "It's a hard life, a very hard life. There's no security in it.
We hire them to play six, seven, eight concerts, whatever we have a
year, and we give no benefits. We pay them strictly for service, and a
lot of them have to give it up and get a real job. But, these are
people from all walks of life, and that is what makes my job so
                                   -Marceline A. Bunzey, Delaware '92M