Tag Archives: truth



Dear beloved members of the Erie Chamber Orchestra audience: KEEP YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY.

Via a letter mailed to all patrons of the ECO, Gannon University is luring contributions. Do NOT give any money to Gannon, on our behalf! The money they receive will not come to us; it will be redirected to another, distinct entity.

Our ECO manager just told me, in print, that there are sufficient funds in our ECO budget to completely cover the cost of our final concert in April. Any money you send to Gannon, at this time, will therefore be considered “surplus”, and THAT money will never reach us.

I have that information, straight from the horse’s mouth.

The whole thing smells of some attempt to bolster funding for the hand-off initiative created by Gannon which, on the surface, appears to sustain the “dream” of Bruce Morton Wright. It doesn’t; rather, it sidelines the vast majority of his orchestral musicians, indeed the entire orchestra, selecting only the handful from within it who already have contracts with the other orchestra. Bruce was fiercely loyal to each and every one of his musicians, and eliminating even one of them from any effort which takes his name is nothing short of blasphemy.

By the way, citing Bruce’s historical role on the Board of the other orchestra is also deliberately misleading; disaffected, Bruce withdrew from that Board, years and years ago.

So, stop.


Wait for the actual Erie Chamber Orchestra to provide you the information you may seek. Attend our final concert, April 28th. We’d love to see you!

Thank you.



Ruth Ann Scanzillo, principal cellist


member since 1986.


© Ruth Ann Scanzillo   3/21/18



New York.

July 23, 2015  11:20pm

Just because you stay home doesn’t make you any less qualified to be alive.

I’m from a city that just barely made it to the big map. Bad council decisions, insular geography, what have you. The rest of the world moved on without it.

About twenty five years ago, my friend Sally found me a house here. She said it was the prettiest in town. More importantly, this one and a half story original from 1895 was located on a corner between two main arteries, a full ten minutes max from anything I needed or wanted to do. For $34,5. I grabbed it, and never looked back.

And, then I went back. To work.

Work. Studs Terkel had quite a bit to say about work. In fact, he wrote the book. And, Studs was from a county town only minutes from here.

Work, for me, would be the becoming. Being an artist, I set about to make a thing of beauty. First, I used materials. Later, I would use people. Children. Sometimes, losing sight of the fact that the materials in my works of art were living, breathing organisms with worthy needs and wants of their own. Young beings, fragile and sensitive. That was probably my biggest failing; I would wonder, to this day, if I’d ever hurt a child irrepairably in my determination to complete the masterpiece of my imagination.

But, no one could say that I hadn’t worked. And, the efforts made bore their own fruit.

We are all called upon, whether we hear the voice doing the calling or not, to make something of value out of our lives. Some of us are given more than one set of gifts, of a type easily identified by the masses. These are called Talents. Each are meant to be developed, and then expressed, in some meaningful form. Sometimes they come forth easily, finding their place with little effort; others take more care to refine. But, sooner or later, one born with talent is just going to be out there embodying the gift. There’s a certain inevitability to it all.

Others are given quieter functions. Curiosity. Compassion. Empathy. Nurture. These, too, are gifts. And, when all are presented to the greater society, everybody benefits. From every nook and cranny of the world, people who are actively contributing to truth, and beauty, and growth, are the lifeblood of the planet.

I’ve also been to New York – the center of the known universe. And, I know plenty of others who have. Some have even lived and worked there. And, the report from the front has not always glittered with gold.

Moving to the bigger city to seek one’s fortune has, historically, been the pattern of the emerging fledgling. Somewhere, somebody said that, the greater one’s inherent potential, the more important to place oneself in the midst of the most recognized centers of society.

This may have been truer when life was smaller, overall. When the perimeters could be more cleanly defined. When the goal could be more clearly visible, the horizon within view.

But, for every expectant bundle of energy that gets off the plane or the bus or the train, there is a lifetime of encroaching realization waiting at the station. A tiny apartment, on a dusty sidestreet. One precious collection of minor opportunities that somebody says will eventually grow into the bigger one. And, perhaps a decade or two of increasing isolation, anonymity, maybe even disappointment.

Mostly, those who become self sustaining in New York do so because they manage to find a smaller collective. A studio. A neighborhood. An extended family of others, who share their loves and propensities. You know. Like a small town.

Mary Engelbreit said: “Bloom where you’re planted.” Oh; maybe she wasn’t the first. But, she said the words out loud. And, then she repeated them, using pretty colors and shapes, until they were everywhere. Back in the 1980’s, Mary’s constitution of this meme had quietly found its place on the greeting card rack of life. Most never knew Mary. But, many lives would come to benefit from what she did.

Friday evening, I will be meeting a lovely young woman for, as they say, coffee. She’s in town for a few days, visiting family and friends, and we haven’t seen each other in over twenty years. But, back in the day, Charline was my student, and neither of us ever forgot the other. Like so many who are part of the thriving throng, she made a life for herself as a teacher in another small town, much as I had. This will be a good reunion, the best kind. We will celebrate the most important part: mutual human value.

We won’t be meeting at a cafe in Manhattan. We won’t have to. There will be no agents, eager for a piece of us. There’ll be no wannabes, seizing our favorite table. We’ll be attending Gallery Night at our local art museum, where just as many beautiful things and people can be found as any of their kind, anywhere. And, those who gather there will have every bit as much to offer the world as anybody else.

We’ll be thankful for our village, the place we call home. And, we’ll be fully qualified to say so.






© Ruth Ann Scanzillo  7/23/15    Thank you for reading. Sharing permissible by request.




He was my lifeline to sanity.

By his model, I learned to love.

It is no wonder, then, that I would have died for my Dad.

Now, being a girl, of course, my feelings toward my own differed from those of a son for his father. For me, Dad was my affirmation – of talent, personality, desireability, value. He was my nurturer and my affection. He was my wink and smile. He was my honesty, my truth, my sure thing.

Tony didn’t know how to hide. He could play a character with the best Hollywood had to offer, but there wasn’t a deceitful bone in his body. He didn’t hide, because he had no reason to do so. Everything he had to give was always apparent, and presented, liberally, with heavy doses of joy.

When the Ken Burns special on WW II aired the first time, and we watched footage of Patton – standing over the bed of the raven haired soldier found cowering there – I recognized that my father was the first, and most brave, defender of pacifism. He wasn’t afraid, at all, to be honest about his feelings: fear, bewilderment, and lack of willingness to follow through on the rage of war. He thought that, if he stayed in a bed at the infirmary, he could escape the horror of man against man. Lord knew he’d not escaped a childhood of abuse and neglect as cast off to the state of Massachusetts, a ward of the county, both a resident of the Fernald School and lightweight defender against Mrs. Bracchi’s burly boys. Unfortunately, Patton, who couldn’t face the truth that Private embodied, held tight to all his power and convinced the man, who would become my father, to get up, go back to the front lines, and fight. And, God, the Infinite Wisdom, took care of the rest. God brought the remnants through, to the end of that monstrosity and home again – to grieve the bloody losses, to tremble at the memories, to blindly venerate the war leaders and, ultimately, to move on with the lives God had preserved for them. I’ll never forget Dad’s own words, at my reminder that he’d earned the Bronze Star for Valour in the Battle of the Bulge: “I wasn’t brave; I was scared to death.”  The voice of truth, in every other man’s denial.

Perhaps my father speaks through me, in those moments when I am most emboldened. The truth persists, at the top of my list of reasons to keep on living; I want to be true to truth, live it out in my every, breathing moment, and open up its nourishments to those who are prisoners to the lies of dogma, denial, resignation, and defeat.

When Dad stepped into a room, he brought with him a burst of irrepressible, inner sunshine and slightly musty air – the air that carried a little of the day’s sweat and blood, the body’s casting off of fuss and care, and a mind’s treasured ability to turn away from all imposing forces. He was self-possessed; he knew what he could do, he knew how well he could, and he was ever willing, every day, to do it. He made his own lunch the evening before; went to bed “at a decent hour” (or, as he so fondly intoned with reference to Mum, a night owl : “the same day I got up”); rose with the sun; walked, all the way, to work in his own barbershop; stayed there, not leaving until he was finished; and, walked home again with his lone companion, the setting sun, carrying the cash money with him – under the trestle bridge, and up the long hill past the street vermin and what would later become the prison – all the way to his own driveway, and up the steps, and into the kitchen to meet a hot supper waiting on the stove.

As a toddler, I would bring my love to his table. Up on my knees on the chair at the head, I’d lean toward him, his back to the window, watching that brown hand stir the milk and sugar into his hot tea. He’d look at me with his twinkling eyes, take the first spoon of tea, swallow it, smack his lips when it was just right, and then put the spoon back into the cup to fill carefully, “not too full”, and then put his other soft hand underneath as he held it out to my open mouth. And, I’d swallow my single spoonful of warm sweetness – supping with him, and he with me.

His stories were ever ready. While he could read aloud like a grand orator, he preferred the realm of his own imagination, which he shared at a moment’s notice and, usually, at the head of the Saturday morning breakfast table. Eagerly accepting his unique blend of missionary fortitude and Pop-eye, we’d travel with him in a small, prop plane, deep into the African jungle, to face Sabre tooth tigers and all manner of associated beasts, only to meet Pop-eye’s spinach fed muscle and save-the-day bravado, always finishing with a song, always his theme: “I’m Pop-eye, the Sailorman!” Somehow, he knew that, in the face of every pompous pious or power-mad tyrant, all stories should always end with a laugh, a wink, and the salvation of a true Superhero.

In fact, on the morning of his death, he was still laughing. His final earthly yarn was spinning away inside his delirious, fevered head, and I am hoping he just slept it off into the ether. I know that everyone who ever truly loved, even for a minute, was there waiting for him.

And so, I can only give what he left with me. Truth, affection, mirth, music, deep knowing, and devotion. I hope I can even touch what he gave me as I bring of myself to the place where I am destined to love. I will not bear a child, or know that bond; but, perhaps, God permits the grace to love, even still – unconditionally, and always in the name of truth.

© Ruth Ann Scanzillo
6/26/15  All rights those of the author, whose name appears above this line. Thank you.