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Retiring instructor, conductor leaving mark on music department at VC after 37 years

Marylynn Fletcher Marylynn Fletcher conducts the Victoria College Choir and Victoria Civic Chorus during “A Choral Celebration” at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts during a 2018 performance.

The title of “Dr.” may have had a different meaning for Marylynn Fletcher had she followed the advice of her Indiana University chemistry professor.

“He told me I had done better in his class than anyone else,” Fletcher said. “He said, ‘I could write you a letter for the IU Medical School and you could be in tomorrow.’ I told him I couldn’t be in anything but music. Music has always been a basic need for me. I need it every day. If you are meant to be a musician, you cannot do anything else.”

Fletcher’s passion for music brought her to Victoria College in 1981 as a piano instructor. Her 37-year career at VC would evolve into also choral instruction along with conducting the VC Choir and Victoria Civic Chorus.

In February, Fletcher, 64, announced that the Spring 2019 semester at Victoria College would be her last. 

“Music demands a lot of energy,” Fletcher said. “It takes so much out of you to develop and maintain a program.”

Fletcher, who obtained her doctorate from The University of Texas at Austin, began playing the piano at age 5 and the violin at 9.  

“I grew up playing in recitals, in concerts and in orchestras,” Fletcher said. “It was what I was meant to do.”

After completing her studies at UT, Fletcher taught at the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, for one year before joining the faculty at Victoria College.

“I thought I’d be here a year or two and then move on,” Fletcher said. “But then I married a Texan, and Texans don’t leave Texas.”

Fletcher had no intentions of ever being a conductor.

“Conducting doesn’t come naturally to me,” Fletcher said. “I always said that those who can play, play, and those who can’t, conduct. So I think God had some sort of ‘Haha’ moment when he turned me into a conductor. It took me way out of my comfort zone, but it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Fletcher said there were times as a conductor when she had to think on her feet.

“We were about to open the doors for the audience when the electricity went off to the entire campus,” Fletcher recalled. “After about 15 minutes, we decided to perform the concert a cappella in the Health Sciences Center because enough light was entering through the windows that the chorus could see. The chorus stood on the stairs and the audience sat in the foyer. The acoustics in there were actually pretty good.”

Fletcher said she felt she has accomplished all she could at VC and is ready to hand the maestro baton to someone else.

“I took the program to where I could, and now it’s time for new blood, time for a new person to come in and take it in a direction where they think it needs to go,” Fletcher said.

Victoria College President David Hinds said Fletcher’s talents and personality will be greatly missed.

“Marylynn is always in good spirits which is displayed through her sharp wit,” Hinds said. “She always has a kind word and is always very serious about her students and her craft. It’s always a bright spot in my day when I see her on campus.”

As she began to grade her students’ finals for the last time, Fletcher admitted she didn’t know how she will react to retirement.

“It’s not real yet because I am not gone yet,” Fletcher said. “I am sure August and September will be a tough time because my clock will be saying, ‘OK, let’s go back to work now.’ ”