UWP plans to honor teachers killed in accident
Editor's note: The following article originally appeared in the Kenosha News Jan. 18, 2012. It was written by reporter Matthew Olsen.
A University of Wisconsin-Parkside professor is seeking to get the community involved in a musical tribute to married, well-liked teachers from Wheatland who died in a motorcycle crash last year.
Parkside music professor James Kinchen is organizing a performance of Gabriel Faure's "Requiem" at the school's Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for Arts and Humanities Saturday at 4 p.m. The performance, which is free, is meant as a tribute to David and Kristin Novaez.
David, a 48-year-old German teacher at Central High School, and Kristin, a 36-year-old choir teacher at Union Grove High School, were killed on Oct. 9 in Wheatland, where they lived, when the motorcycle they were riding was struck by a truck that pulled away from a stop sign.
Kinchen said he had met Kristin Novaez at a Wisconsin Choral Directors Association conference seven or eight years ago. The two struck up a friendship and Kinchen consulted with the Union Grove choir and Kristin's choir performed with the Parkside choir twice.
"She was a terrific person," Kinchen said. "She was sharp and had high energy and had a wonderful way of connecting with people. She taught her students to care more and they became a larger and better chorale program. She was a really special person."
Kinchen said he was "shocked" when he learned of David and Kristin's deaths. As he weighed how best to pay tribute to the couple, he thought of music and asked on a local choral Facebook page if people would be interested in performing Faure's "Requiem" as a tribute.
"Wouldn't it be great that if people who had sung with her in the past could come together and make a musical memorial to them," Kinchen said. "The idea has grown from that point."
This piece, which lasts about 40 minutes, is a fitting tribute to the couple.
"It's really beautiful," Kinchen said. "It is very inspiring, optimistic and hopeful in its tone."
Kinchen received commitments from enough singers and musicians to perform the piece, but he wants to see if more people want to lend their voices, or music-making ability, to this tribute.
Singers or musicians who know, or will learn, the piece before Saturday and want to take part in the performance should contact Kinchen by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at (262) 595-2111. Rehearsals for the piece will then take place Saturday at 1 p.m. leading up to the concert.
There is no admission for the concert, but donations will be taken for the Kristin and Captain David A. Novaez Benefit, a scholarship fund that assists students at Central and Union Grove high schools.
"For two people that were so dedicated to teaching and loved students so much and gave so much for their students to succeed, what better could you contribute to than a fund that helps students be successful," Kinchen said.
The benefit is run through Educators Credit Union, where donations can also be received.
Even if people are not ready to be on stage for Saturday's performance, Kinchen said he feels there is much to be gained from hearing this collaborative effort."The music almost embraces the listener and lifts them up," Kinchen said. "Even though we are dealing with the grief of death, the music pushes you towards the hope of life. It will be very accessible to a listener without a classical background. And it will be sung by a wonderful collection of voices that will do a wonderful job with that requiem."