By Janette Turner
Everyone knows the Cascade Symphony has talented musicians, but folks may not realize the roster includes a former White House pianist and his beauty queen wife. We recently checked in with Herb and Joy Hamilton to find out about their notable careers, and learned this from pageant winner Joy:
“Herb was the White House pianist and organist from 1967-1971, and I was Miss Louisiana (1966), and competed in Miss America. We met at church, and music brought us together.
“This month I will be in Monroe, LA, for the 50th reunion of the Miss Louisiana pageant being in that city. Thirty-eight of the 50 winners will be returning, and we were asked to perform our talent at the time we won, or another piece. My winning performance was a modern ballet and oboe solo to ‘Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.’ I can’t find the score, so I will play something on oboe or English horn.
“The night I passed on my crown, in 1967, emcee Gary Collins proposed to Mary Ann Mobley on stage with me there. She and I sang and danced together while she was there.
“This will be my 40th year coming up with Cascade Symphony, and Herb’s 38th year, but we are not the longest serving members. There are few people who started with Bob Anderson and his high school orchestra, and became part of the Cascade Symphony.
“I auditioned when I came up here from New Orleans in 1972, and Herb joined a little later. His dad had joined when I did. I met Herb that year in 1972 and we formed a woodwind quintet with his father and two other people. We did that for two years, when we traveled and went around the state.
“I loved Cascade’s ‘American in Paris’ program we did in October, 2013, along with many other performances. I’m looking forward to the upcoming season. We are both in the Cascade Symphony, and Herb plays with several dance bands around Seattle, including The “A” Band. We also do weddings and corporate parties together.”
Private music lessons
“Herb and I give private music lessons out of our Edmonds home. I work with piano and voice, oboe, English horn, flute, clarinet. Herb works with all keyboards, piano, music theory, and all the woodwinds and brass, and guitar. Our lessons are very individualized. We cater to the individual and have students of all ages.
“Some of our past students include baroque musician Kristin Olson, and quite a few students went on to receive scholarships. One went to Boston University, and two went to Stanford. One become a Miss Edmonds, and is an actress on television.
Editor’s note: Joy promised to bring back photos from the pageant reunion, which My Edmonds News hopes to show. And if you are interested in hearing Joy and Herb play with the symphony, see the Cascade Symphony website for tickets.