We lost our dear friend and chorus member Bonnie Armstrong this month. Bonnie and I started out together in the International Music Club so many years ago, both as fledgling singers, Bonnie on the low end, and I on the high end, then led by Julia Poirier and Barbara Pixton. We were in Pajdashi, the Croatian group, and soon after Divi Zheni formed, she joined and was a mainstay of the low voices for eleven years, until this past November when she took a leave of absence.
Some time after starting in Divi Zheni, I happened upon Bonnie’s lesson with our teacher and director, Tatiana Sarbinska. She was learning a new, and her first, solo, Gljodaj Ma Gljodaj. I was awestruck by the beauty of the voice that Tatiana had “opened” as Tatiana likes to say. Those solos were always a highpoint of our concerts.
Bonnie also gave us those wonderful introductions during concerts. Her theatrical training, her booming voice, her sense of humor, always delighted the audience. Memorable were those introductions to the heartrending Stiga Jodish, and the joyful and humorous Ergen Deda.
Sitting across the choral arc from Bonnie was a particular joy, as I had the joy of witnessing her silent communications and antics throughout the rehearsal. She told me to watch her when I was called on to do those dreaded solos (as she knew how nervous I got). She said she would give me courage. I did always look at her before singing, and she always did give me that look that I knew meant, “You can do it!”.
Bonnie taught us determination, strength, perseverance and courage in the face of difficult odds. She never lost her sense of humor; she loved her dear family above all else. We will miss her. I will miss her.
With love and in memory,