This preview has been provided by the Raleigh Chamber Music Guild.

by Nancy Lambert
Executive Director
Raleigh Chamber Music Guild

If you grew up in North Carolina in the ’50s and ’60s, as I did, you likely recollect the annual ritual of the North Carolina Symphony visiting your hometown. For most elementary school children, the experience began with rehearsals of songs that would later be sung with the symphony on the “big day.”

These and accompanying materials were prepared by Adeline McCall with assistance from her good friend Maxine Swalin and were taken very seriously because everyone knew the importance of performing at their best with the symphony. The concert might have been in the school gym or in an auditorium. We were expected to be on our best behavior, of course, though some students took full advantage of the opportunity to clown around. Little did they realize the importance of what they were hearing. There was Dr. Ben (Swalin), tall and imposing, leading his forces in some Top 40 hit, and there was Maxine at her customary place at the tinkly celesta. Together, they were a mighty team – inside and outside the fledgling orchestra.

Hundreds of hours of preparation went into those concerts. Maxine was the organizer extraordinaire, arranging everything from buses and box lunches to travel routes and hotel rooms. And all without computers, e-mail, cell phones or fax machines! It was a grueling job that she did faithfully for over 30 years. Following Dr. Swalin’s retirement, the Swalins continued to live in Chapel Hill, and for the next 37 years Maxine was a constant presence at the Triangle’s music scene.

On April 17, RCMG celebrates her rich legacy in a special concert by the Ciompi Quartet at the N.C. Museum of Art. The concert will feature the music of Barber, Beethoven and Hannay. One of Mrs. Swalin’s most passionate subjects was the importance of arts education and opportunities for young people, for she considered every young person in North Carolina as one of her children. She would be proud to know that her Steinway piano given to the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts is featured in many of RCMG’s pre-concert programs presented by student ensembles.