The coda to Jon Bailey's career in Pomona's Music Department commenced this semester, when, after officially retiring in June, he returned as an emeritus professor, teaching classes two mornings a week.
He expects to continue teaching a reduced course load for three or four more years, but that could change. "I've started a new career doing voice-over work, both commercials and narration, in L.A.," he says. "If that takes off ... we'll see." He will soon be stepping down as artistic director of the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles as well. "After 14 years, it's time to move on," Bailey says. He plans to remain an activist on concerns of the gay community, however. "It's a matter of social justice. It's something I feel very profoundly about and very deeply in my heart," he says. "I saw the Chorus as a primary thrust of that social activity, because music can break down barriers in places that speeches and books and parades do not."
Bailey, who came to Pomona in 1982 after teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Yale School of Music, directed the Pomona College Choir and Glee Club for 16 years. A memorable impression from his years at the College, he says, was performing Benjamin Britten's cantata St. Nicolas, "and seeing how powerfully music could affect these young people--music that's discussing a saint from the ninth century." His favorite piece of choral music is Britten's War Requiem, which draws upon the works of Wilfred Owen, a poet who was killed by machine-gun fire in World War I, a week before the Armistice. "I think Britten speaks to the conscience of the middle part of the 20th century in a way no other composer did," Bailey says.
With choral music, he says, "Students don't have to leave their feelings at the door when they enter the class. Choral music is a place where students can find their own voice. I think they found, particularly in the Glee Club but also in the Choir, a sense of belonging in a way that happens in theatre, and that I think should happen in every class at a liberal arts college. There was a sense of family that was created in those ensembles that was, in some ways, more important than the music that they made together. And I think that it did inform the music-making, and made it deeper and more loving."
Singing, he believes, helps to satisfy a hunger people have for a sense of community, "one reason why the choral program at Pomona has always been very strong."
"Singing is important for a variety of reasons," Bailey says. "One is, you are the instrument, and you have to get in touch with your own voice, and there's no extension of you--no keyboard, no strings, no reed, there's nothing that can get in the way of the sound except yourself. So singing, to be truly free, means that you have to be truly free inside yourself. The second thing is that singing almost always has to be done with someone else. I would say that 70 percent of singing is listening. If you can hear those around you and their sound, you're going to make music in a far richer way. Then, it becomes a kind of paradigm or allegory for the rest of our lives."
When Norm Hines '61 arrived at Pomona, he was 17 years old. It was a different time.
"The male students had maids to clean their rooms and do the laundry. The women were expected to do that themselves," he says. "The men had no curfew, but the women had to be in at 10 o'clock most nights, except one night when they could be out until 11, and another night a little later."
There have been other changes too, of course, but one constant is that Pomona has remained a vibrant, stimulating place to teach and learn, he says. Hines was an English major. It was late in his undergraduate years when he realized he could work as an artist, and he went on to study art at the Claremont Graduate School. At Pomona, Hines was a physical education instructor, assistant dean of admissions and a professor of art. Except for five years in the 1960s, he had been at the College since 1957 before retiring after the spring 2000 semester.
"I wake up Tuesday mornings and think, 'I'm supposed to be someplace,'" says Hines, a sculptor, referring to his former teaching schedule. "I miss the students a lot. I always looked forward to working with them." During retirement, he plans to continue working on a house he built in Fiji. He and partner Marjorie Harth, director of the Montgomery Art Gallery and professor of art history, are adding guest quarters they plan to rent at their hilltop property on a Fijian island.
Hines also will continue to work on his art. "I didn't retire to do nothing," he says. "My main impulse was to continue to do what I like doing, which is creating art, and to have more time to do it." He has been working on a series of stone carvings at the waterline of the oceanside property in Fiji. Hard, dark basaltic forms abound there, relics of volcanic activity. The carvings, which are based on Fijian myths, are underwater at high tide.
Hines has also been working to get his renowned environmental sculpture Caelum Moor back on view. Installed in 1985 at a private development in Arlington, Texas, it consisted of pink granite megaliths, 15 to 34 feet high, arranged in a rolling 5.5-acre landscape cupping a small lake. It was designed to evoke Britain's heathery moors and ancient, enigmatic stone groupings. For economic and political reasons, the sculpture was dismantled in 1997. A group of ministers, alleging that the artwork was used for pagan and wiccan rituals, has promised to block any expenditure of public funds for reinstallation. Hines is trying to restore the work, if not in Arlington, somewhere else. "I want it up," he says.
Between his life in Fiji and the effort to resurrect Caelum Moor, he remains as busy as ever in retirement, he says. He misses teaching, because "I never thought of it as a way of paying the bills so I could do my artwork. It was something I chose to do because it was very rewarding to me." But it was time for a change. "I really don't feel like it's the end of anything," he says. "It's a whole new life."
Of Pomona College, he says, "I have nothing but wonderful memories. I don't want to get sentimental, but it really has been a wonderful place for me for all these years." --Michael Balchunas