We are deeply saddened to learn that our prolific, always informative and highly-entertaining contributor, Dr. Keith Mason, or “Doc” as his students called him, passed away last October, 2020. Coincidentally, that was an issue of Choral Director which contained one of his submissions, fittingly, on the cover, about his favorite musical, “The Sound of Music” and its soundtrack, filled with great ideas for including lessons plan ideas around it.
It was the second time he had written about the “Sound of Music” for us. The final story in Choral Director from Dr. Mason was Guys and Dolls: 70 Years of Loesser’s Broadway Gem published in the November/December 2020 issue, the month following his passing. We had published probably a dozen of his submissions, maybe more, with eight or nine being cover stories.
I emailed Dr. Mason in October, 2020 to ask how he liked the issue. I emailed again last December to ask the same. No reply either time. This was very unlike Keith. He was a thoughtful and generous man, who would send me birthday cards, congratulations on my wedding, and was always in touch. He was a consistent submitter of articles on musical theater films and plays, always including excellent ways to create great lessons plans. As is probably not so unusual in this world, my only contact information was his email account and sometimes phone, but I didn’t hear back there, either. Maybe I had his number wrong, I thought. Oh well, Keith will be in touch. Surely. He always was. He was dependable and extra reliable, consistent. This is a man who loved musical theater music, had a deep knowledge of it, celebrated it, and lived to share with music educators ways it could be incorporated into lesson plans. It was his passion with our magazine.
During the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, things were so busy, I put it out of my mind he wasn’t replying, never thinking the worst. Still, I realized last April, when we ran his final story, this time in SBO Magazine, “Musical Orchestrators of Broadway’s Golden Era: Another Op’nin’, Another Show,” that I had not heard from him in quite some time. I emailed Dr. Mason again. No reply. So, still, I gave it some time. He would be in touch, I figured, as soon as he had a moment, as distance learning and hybrid teaching, and myriad crazy combinations were impacting teachers everywhere.
Again, last week, when the announcement was made that my company, artistpro, LLC, had purchased Choral Director Magazine, along with three others, I reached out to Keith again to share the news and implore him to please contribute some more. His articles were always detailed, whimsical, fun, sending me scurrying to find images we could legally use from these films and productions. Again, no reply.
This time, I decided to Google him and see if there was something I didn’t know. And there it was…
January 26, 1962 – October 1, 2020
What an absolute punch to the gut that was as I sat there and read it, and realized what had happened to one of my favorite contributors from all of our magazines. It truly disrupted my day learning of this. How could I not have known or searched before? How could his family and partner possibly have known to reach us in the middle of their grief and a pandemic? They couldn’t have. As I pour through submissions from writers on my MacBook Pro, I keep hoping I will find one from him that I missed and have not yet published. So far, I have not.
His lack of response and new articles all made sense now, in an awful way.
Over the past nearly seven years that I have been editor of this magazine, getting an article from Dr. Mason was always a highlight. They usually showed up in a manic fashion one right after the other, and he stayed right in touch to know if and when one would be published, always collaborating with me for images, and he was just a delightful man. I so regret we never met in person.
Dr. Keith Mason will be greatly missed by everyone at Choral Director, and by our many readers. We hope he rests in peace, over the rainbow, with the sound of music alive all around him.
Choral Director Magazine