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Mysterious music delights, fools Pacific band director

The anonymous donations from humorous, made-up donors keep coming


by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Pacific University Director of Bands Michael Burch-Pesses wrote a heartfelt thank-you note to a fictitious music donor--not realizing how hed been duped until the letter was returned. Usually Im a little quicker on the uptake, he said.The unexpected gift was so welcome and surprising, Michael Burch-Pesses didn’t even notice the suspiciously named donor.

“Dear Ms. Nett,” he wrote, thanking the unknown woman who had sent him a box full of concert band music for Pacific University’s music department.

It was only after the letter came back as undeliverable that the university’s director of bands looked more closely at the return address.

The letter was from Clare E. Nett, who lived on Chalumeau Drive (chalumeau refers to the lowest register on the clarinet).

“Usually I’m a little quicker on the uptake,” said Burch-Pesses. “It didn’t even register till the letter came back.”

That was in March. “I thought ‘Well, golly, that was really funny. That’s terrific,’” he said.

Then another priority-mail box addressed to Burch-Pesses arrived in early September, followed by another a few weeks later and a fourth in November. All were postmarked from Vancouver, Wash.by: NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Michael Burch-Pesses stands near the priority-mail boxes used to ship anonymous donations of music to Pacific University. The most recent shipment was last month.

“I have no idea who it is,” he said. “This music is not junk. It’s high-quality music by well-known composers.”

All the return addresses are music-related pseudonyms. One came from Piccolo Pete on Piper Street, another from O. Beau Reed, who lived on Hautbois (French for ‘oboe’) Lane. And Russell Alexander (a famous composer) sent one from Posaune (a predecessor to the trombone) Avenue.

Each box contained seven or eight complete arrangements for band, including pieces by well-known composers such as Leonard Bernstein, Roger Nixon and Vaclav Nelhybel.

There’s nothing written recently and no stamp showing it ever belonged to a particular school, Burch-Pesses said. “Most of the music looks as though it’s never been played.

Burch-Pesses can only speculate about the anonymous donor. Is it a former student? Is it an Oregon resident, mailing the packages from Vancouver to disguise his or her identity?

But he knows what to do with it and plans to follow through next school year, he said: “I have enough music for five or six concerts.”



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