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Juneau-Douglas City Museum


Davis, Sylvia Audrey

by Constance Davis
UID=1042


Sylvia was born to Carol Beery and Trevor Davis on September 14, 1923, at St. Annís Hospital in Juneau. Carol and her brother had birthdays on September 15, so Sylvia was considered a birthday gift and part of a family tradition. She worked her way into Carolís piano class at an early age, and started violin at age seven. Joining the Girl Scouts, Sylvia learned to play the small ukulele and accompanied many a songfest at scout camp. She taught herself tap dancing by imitating movie performers, and performed for an audience at every opportunity. Later she enjoyed playing violin in local vaudeville.

As a young teenager, Sylviaís first violin performances were at the Northern Light Presbyterian Church on 4th Street. She played trios with her mother, the church organist, and with sister Shirley on the cello. Also, they had a program on KINY radio. Sylvia was active in musical activities in school and was an accompanist for the Glee Club. As a mature violinist, she returned to play in concert with local artists at the church and at the 20th Century Theater.

After graduating from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Sylvia joined Leon Barzinís National Orchestra in New York City. In 1946-48, Sylvia was hired for the New Orleans and Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestras where she played first violin. Later, she was hired by the Dallas Orchestra. Her next move was to try for Leopold Stokowskiís new American Symphony back in New York. She passed the audition and soon played for both the symphony and the Radio City Music Hall.

On her visits to Juneau, Sylvia worked with her mother on musical arrangements of Carolís songs and other materials, and there were always pieces to play together. When her parents entered the Pioneers Home, Sylvia frequently entertained there. Also, she played aboard a tour ship. Having admired excellent conducting for so many years, Sylvia became interested in it herself. She augmented her BM degree with a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University Teachers College, specializing in conducting. There was not enough time for this new experience, although she was doing a little teaching and conducting with school children in Juneau when she lived with her elderly parents.

Sylvia died on New Yearís Eve, 1990, five months after her motherís death, and seven months after her fatherís. She was 67 years of age.


Sylvia Audrey Davis