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Percy Jewett Burrell 1877-1964

Percy Jewett Burrell 1877-1964

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Percy Jewett Burrell 1877-1964

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  1. Percy Jewett Burrell1877-1964

  2. What We’ll Cover • Birth, Early Life, & Education • Sinfonian Involvement • Pageants • Modern Commemorations

  3. Early Life • Percy Jewett Burrell was born on February 10, 1877 to Alice Bell Neal and Joseph Maurice Burrell of Boston. After graduating from the Phillips Grammar School in 1891 and the English High School in 1894, he attended the New England Conservatory, from which he received a Diploma in Elocution in 1896. • Burrell was initiated into the Sinfonia in 1899 and served as president of the chapter at the New England Conservatory in 1900 and 1903.

  4. Boston University • In 1902 Burrell received the post-graduate degree of Bachelor of Oratory from Boston University, where he was also a student of Methodist theology. His talents led him to be a well known public speaker with an enviable reputation as a teacher of oratory, and later as an author and director of national reputation.

  5. Sinfonian Involvement • Burrell was initiated into the Sinfonia Club of the N.E.C. on June 12, 1899. In addition to serving as the second president of the Alpha Chapter in 1900 and again in 1903, Burrell served as the Fraternity’s National Historian (1901-1913) and sixth National President (1907-1914). Although he graduated from the N.E.C. in 1902, Burrell remained listed as an active member through 1912.

  6. Sinfonian Philosophy Burrell stands alongside his lifelong friend, Sinfonia’s founder Ossian Everett Mills, as one of the primary articulators of the Fraternity’s philosophy, which today continues to guide thousands of musical students at over two hundred academic institutions across the nation. Sacrifice for others, personal responsibility, fraternal love, and the Brotherhood of Man are among the recurring themes of Burrell’s writings, for which he is esteemed by countless Sinfonians.

  7. Sinfonian Philosophy His philosophy can be aptly summed up in the following words, which he wrote in 1908: Brotherhood! The brotherhood of men! What spiritual significance! Do we catch its true meaning? Does it give us a real and vital experience? Do we get a spiritual insight? Do we look out with a broader vision? Do we think in terms and live in acts of brotherhood? If we do, we move in harmony, attuned to both God, the Father, and man, the Brother. What is music without harmony? Verily it is not music. Life without good-will and fraternity - what is it? Indeed it is not life. He has not truly lived who has not lived for others, in sympathy and in harmony with his fellows.

  8. Sinfonian Philosophy • Burrell was one of Sinfonia’s founding members, and, along with Ralph H. Pendleton, was a key proponent of making Sinfonia a national organization.

  9. Burrell the Pageant-Master From approximately 1917 to 1945 Burrell was in high demand throughout the United States and by the mid 1930s stood preeminent in his profession as a consultant, author, organizer and director of historical and patriotic pageants and community and religious drama. His work took him from coast to coast, and no one was more in demand than he for his service in this field.

  10. Pageants • Dramatist Percy MacKay said of Burrell, “I know of no other person who combines his mastery of minutiae with the kind of human idealism necessary for projecting such phases of community art.” Among these was the Pageant of Saratoga, with 6,500 participants and 125,000 spectators making it the largest historical spectacle of its type ever given in the country at the time. By 1932, over 100,000 persons had come under his guidance as pageant participants and committee members, and over 1,200,000 spectators had seen his indoor and outdoor productions.

  11. Pageants • Burrell described a pageant as “a play which has as a plot the history of the town, and as its hero, the town itself,” but he regarded the drama as more than a mere form of entertainment. Burrell wrote, “The impulses of art, education, patriotism and religion, reach out and select this form of expression as a means of revelation of life itself.” It was his hope and belief that the spirit of community would be reflected by those who participated in these drama “in closer bonds of neighborliness and good-will toward one another.” To him, the best gift that a pageant bestowed upon a people was “the social solidarity left behind it.” The pageant was a way to bring out the soul of a community and the soul of the country.

  12. Pageants • Through the pageant, Burrell put into action the ideal expressed in his words: It is a truism that as long as man loves but himself and his art he can never attain to the full measure of manhood or reach the sublimest heights of his art. He must seek to love men as brothers and art, not for the sake of art itself, but art as a means toward bringing all men up to that verdant plateau where their souls may be fed in very rejoicing in all that is true, beautiful, abiding.

  13. Pictures of Pageants

  14. Alumni Engagement • Burrell frequently spoke and wrote at the New England Conservatory on the subject of alumni involvement. In direct line with the Fraternity’s Object, he sought to instill a loyalty to the alma mater in Sinfonians, and in doing so create a stronger school, student body, alumni, and community. Nothing in this world succeeds so well as the organization of human beings. And nothing counts for so much in the individual as his own organized forces. As students, you have already recognized this truism in your very selves by so building your energies, training your capabilities, adjusting your forces, and adapting your plans, time and money that you will graduate a successful music student. You have correlated and harmonized physical, intellectual and spiritual forces—both endowed and acquired—for your own good, and, I trust, the ultimate good of your fellows. - Percy J. Burrell, 1915

  15. 1948 Convention • In 1948, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fraternity, Brother Burrell wrote Sinfonia Birthday: An Historical Play Based on Facts of the Founding of Phi Mu Alpha Fraternity, which was performed at the National Convention. Brother Burrell wrote the pageant at the request of Executive Secretary Charles E. "Casey" Lutton, and was given carte blanche to do whatever he felt was appropriate, to the point that Lutton promised to build the convention program around whatever Burrell produced.

  16. Death • Percy Jewett Burrell died in 1964 at age eighty-seven and had no descendants. He was buried in an unmarked grave in Watertown, Massachusetts.

  17. Modern Commemorations In 1998, Committeeman-at-Large and National Historian John Mongiovi began working with city government officials and members of the Burrell family to gain the necessary permissions to erect a suitable monument on our brother’s grave. Last summer he received the necessary approvals and had a monument cut, which will be placed on his grave this spring. The monument bears the Sinfonia insignia and reads: Percy Jewett Burrell Feb. 10, 1877 Mar. 22, 1964 Sixth Supreme President of The Sinfonia Fraternity of America Master Pageant Master “He Has Not Truly Lived Who Has Not Lived For Others In Sympathy And In Harmony With His Fellows.”

  18. Gravesite Dedication Ceremony L to R: Richard Crosby, Eta-Omicron; Clint Williams, Mu; Edward Klint, Alpha Xi; Richard Jewett, representing the family; Ryan Ripperton, Alpha Rho; Scott Kleinfeld, Lambda Pi; Mark Lichtenberg, Delta Nu; Brian Stratton, Delta Omega; John Mongiovi, Upsilon Psi

  19. 2014 Anniversary • 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Burrell’s death and the 10th anniversary of his gravesite monument being erected. President Mongiovi has declared March 22, 2014 an official day of remembrance and dedication.

  20. 2014 Anniversary • Several contests and commemorations are being held in Burrell’s honor, including: • A Chapter Historians’ Observance • A Look-alike Contest • An Essay Contest • A Pageant Contest • Each is intended to bring brothers closer to the message and ideals of Brother Burrell.

  21. More Information • Burrell’s Sinfonian writings can be found at • More info on the 2014 commemorations, and additional photographs and resources, can be found at