Archive for Wednesday, May 9, 2001

Castle remembers her Baldwin days

May 9, 2001

"I never had a doubt as to what I wanted to do with my life," said Joyce Castle, mezzo-soprano and former Baldwin resident. She performed "The Music of Leonard Bernstein" recently at the Lied Center in Lawrence and will be an artist in residence at her alma mater, the University of Kansas, in the fall as professor of voice.

"I always sang and acted," Castle said. "Mother says I sang a solo in the Louisiana Baptist church when I was three years old."

Joyce Castle is the daughter of George and Ethel (recently deceased) Malicky, who brought their family to Baldwin City in 1950.

The Malickys moved to Baldwin because George could work as a pipefitter out of the Lawrence union, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 763.

"Dad and mother liked Baldwin and thought they would be able to send their three children to college at Baker University," said Castle. "My older brother, Neal, and my sister, Georgann, did indeed go to Baker, but I 'went away to college' all of 13 miles to KU."

She believes that Baldwin gave her many gifts, and she is thankful for those gifts.

"The community has always been behind me, applauding all the way," she said. "I have always felt that growing up in Baldwin helped me greatly in rooting me to the earth, to nature, to friends, to the church to what really matters. I am very grateful to the Baldwin community. Thank you, again and again."

Castle, who has made a name for herself on the opera scene in New York, France, and Santa Fe, considers herself lucky not only to have been raised in Baldwin but also to have had the Baker University faculty available to her.

"I took piano lessons from my dear friend Alice Anne Callahan through high school," she said. "I took voice lessons from Bill Rice and others at Baker also. At the high school, I and my siblings had a fine music teacher, Wendell Hicks, and a fine drama and English teacher, Margaret Stutzman.

"I benefited greatly with their teaching. And Thelma Morreale, head of theatre at Baker, encouraged me greatly all along the way," she said.

The greatest encouragement, however, came at home, not only from her parents but also from her sister and brother.

"My sister, Georgann, and brother, Neal, both have always been behind me 100 percent in my endeavors," Castle said. "What a wonderful blessing that has been in my life, to have such encouragement from my entire family."

Her mother Ethel, who taught at Baldwin Elementary School, was a pianist and a singer, though she never pursued those vocations.

"Mother told me I could do anything I dreamed of doing," Castle said. "Dad also encouraged me. He went to all my concerts and performances in Baldwin and at KU and elsewhere. And he paid for all those voice and piano lessons without blinking an eye."

Castle still has many friends in Baldwin, her own friends from school days and friends of her parents.

Alice Anne Callahan, who gave private piano lessons to Joyce when she was in junior high and high school, said, "Joyce had a real sense of music then, a real gift for the stage which was obvious in such performances as 'Brigadoon' and 'The King and I' while she was studying at KU. I love to see her in operas and musicals. She is such an actor."

Callahan and her husband, Tom Russell, have been friends with Castle for many years. And before that, Callahan and her sisters found Joyce's parents to be surrogate parents for them, so George and Ethel had an extended family to contend with in Baldwin.

"Our paths have crossed during Joyce's visits home and even on our trips to Europe," said Callahan. "For eight or 10 years she performed on French radio, doing avant garde music. She has a flare for that, which was reflected in the performance of Bernstein works she did recently in Lawrence."

"As I travel so much I have always known the great importance of friends and family," Castle said. Thus her travels also include trips home to Baldwin, and now that she will be teaching at KU beginning in the fall, she will have opportunities to strengthen those bonds.

"I will live in Lawrence, close to KU," she said. But she will keep her apartment in New York City. "I think I am still a small-town girl and I am a big city girl, too. But mostly I tell Dad I am a gypsy because I must travel in my profession."

She believes her life as a professor will mean less travel and an "interesting adjustment," but she doesn't think the move to KU will be permanent.

"I have no idea what a 'permanent move' would be since I have spent my life traveling," she said. "My time will be divided between teaching my voice students and going out for professional engagements."

Certainly, friends in Baldwin are glad she'll be back in the area.

"She is always herself," said Callahan, "warm, a great sense of humor. We always pick up where we left off the last time we saw her."

Castle's sister, Georgann, a graduate of Baker in organ music, lives with her husband, John Raney, in Beaumont, Texas. They have two children, Karen and John. Georgann substitutes in the public schools, teaching vocal music. She also plays organ in their church.

Castle's brother, Neal, has retired as president of Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. He was dean and then interim president of Baker. He lives with his wife, Margi, in Berea. Both are Baker grads. They have three sons, Mike, Eric, and David.

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