Society

The ‘ultimate accompanist’

Music club honors a legend from RHS band’s golden era
By BILL COOKE
Reporter Staff Writer


Back in her former home at 403 Rice Street in Rockdale (now owned by Barkley Alford), Gerry Selden (now Gerry Selden-Janik of Easterly), plays the piano in her music room for members and guests of the Matinee Musical Club. She is a former member and hosted many club meetings in her home. 
Reporter/Bill Cooke Back in her former home at 403 Rice Street in Rockdale (now owned by Barkley Alford), Gerry Selden (now Gerry Selden-Janik of Easterly), plays the piano in her music room for members and guests of the Matinee Musical Club. She is a former member and hosted many club meetings in her home. Reporter/Bill Cooke Gerry Selden-Janik of Easterly is the organist at the 1,300- member First United Methodist Church in Bryan, playing a new $500,000 pipe organ. She is paid for her services.

She also now accompanies 53 Bryan High School students preparing for solo and ensemble competitions. She’s also paid for that.

There was a time, however, she did those things for free—for 25 years, in fact—for Rockdale High School musicians.

She and her husband, Dr. L.E. Selden (deceased), moved to Rockdale in 1959 where he joined Drs. John T. Richards and Philip Young at Richards Clinic & Hospital.

In the early 1960s, Bill Grusendorf, school band director, heard she was an accomplished pianist/organist and asked her if she would accompany his musicians as they prepared for UIL solo and ensemble competition.


Gerry Selden-Janik (L) shares a laugh with mu sic club member Denise Starnes, who was one of literally hundreds of high school musicians that Selden- Janik accompanied in UIL solo and ensemble competitions. “She donated her time and served us punch and cookies,” Starnes said. Gerry Selden-Janik (L) shares a laugh with mu sic club member Denise Starnes, who was one of literally hundreds of high school musicians that Selden- Janik accompanied in UIL solo and ensemble competitions. “She donated her time and served us punch and cookies,” Starnes said. “We didn’t have a piano at the time,” she said. “We went to Temple and bought a used one for $50.”

Thus began a 25-year tradition during which she accompanied hundreds (thousands?) of RHS students during the RHS Big Blue Band’s “golden era” under band directors Grusendorf, Don Thoede and Jim Perry.

For years, the RHS band sewed up UIL Sweepstakes awards for receiving superior ratings in marching, solo and ensemble competition and concert and sight-reading contests. Founder’s Day tribute


Lee Thomason (above) and Barkley Alford (below) were soloists during the music club meeting, and were accompanied by Selden-Janik, just as they were when they were high school musicians during the Big Blue Band’s decades of success in UIL marching, solo and ensemble, and concert and sight-reading competitions. Lee Thomason (above) and Barkley Alford (below) were soloists during the music club meeting, and were accompanied by Selden-Janik, just as they were when they were high school musicians during the Big Blue Band’s decades of success in UIL marching, solo and ensemble, and concert and sight-reading competitions. Selden-Janik was the honoree and the program Monday night, Jan. 17, when the Matinee Musical Club of Rockdale held its annual Founder’s Day meeting at the home of Barkley Alford, 403 Rice Street. A two-story home built in 1907 and known as the “Camp House” owned by Judge E.A. Camp, it was purchased in 1964 by Dr. and Mrs. Selden.

And it was in that home’s music room that the RHS students rehearsed with their volunteer piano accompanist for 25 years, January through March. When the Matinee Music Club was searching for a Founders Day program, planners approached Selden-Janik for two reasons: she was a former member who had hosted many meetings at her home, and she had done so much for RHS musicians.


Matinee Music Club members, guests fill the living room and adjoining areas to hear, and honor, Selden-Janik for her 25 years of contributions to the club and to high school band members as accompanist for solo and ensemble UIL contests. Matinee Music Club members, guests fill the living room and adjoining areas to hear, and honor, Selden-Janik for her 25 years of contributions to the club and to high school band members as accompanist for solo and ensemble UIL contests. The home is owned, and has been restored, by Barkley Alford who purchased it from the Seldens. Alford had been one of the RHS students who rehearsed his clarinet solos for UIL competition in that home. He readily agreed to open his home for the Founder’s Day program honoring Selden-Janik. An evening of music

Matinee Musical Club, organized in January 1909, didn't designate its January meeting as Founder's Day until 1984. The evening's program highlighted 25 years within the club's 102-year history. Many of the programs during those 25 years took place in the Selden house. The honoree became a club member in 1960.

Annette Griesbach, program leader, gave a brief history of Selden-Janik, her music background and her music involvement in the local community.

Selden- Janik always begins her organ recitals with O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing, and played that to open the program, followed by Toccota in F major.

Next, clarinetist Barkley Alford played Arioso by Bach, accompanied on the piano by Selden-Janik. This was the same piece played by the two of them for a Ma rch 1972 Mat inee club program.


Matinee Musical Club held its Founder’s Day program Jan. 17 in this home, known as the “Camp House” for early owner Judge E.A. Camp. The home is now owned by Barkley Alford. Matinee Musical Club held its Founder’s Day program Jan. 17 in this home, known as the “Camp House” for early owner Judge E.A. Camp. The home is now owned by Barkley Alford. Matinee member Denise Starnes played Ah Vous dirai-je maman (Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star), with Selden-Janik on the piano. As a band student, Denise played her f lute for the club's March 1974 meeting with Selden- Janik on the piano.

For a March 1980 club program, Lee Thomason played Carnival of Venice on the trumpet, accompanied by Selden- Janik. They did so again during the Founder's Day program. Selden-Janik closed the program playing Romance by Jean Sibelius.

"I have wonderful memories of my years in Rockdale, of my membership in Matinee Musical Club, and of our church here, First Presbyterian," Selden-Janik said.

"As for helping the high school musicians," she added, "I got so much from them. They were fun, kind, energetic, thoughtful, and they taught me a lot more than I taught them. I loved every minute of it."

( Marie Gest, music club member, contributed to this story.)


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