A chance meeting of two local music teachers several years ago resulted in a unique duo entering the Anchorage music scene. Guitarist Mary Wagner LaFever and cellist Linda Marsh-Ives created Troubadora after Marsh-Ives heard LaFever strumming an unusual guitar at an art show opening 10 years ago. I saw her playing at Side Street Espresso, and went up and asked "what's that?" Marsh-Ives says of LaFever's lute guitar. "Then I told her I was a cellist and she said, 'Do you want to play?' "
Marsh-Ives, who received her degree in performance music from the University of Alaska Anchorage in 1990, started rehearsing with LaFever. The pair spent countless hours learning standards, fiddle (cello) tunes, blues, and folk songs, and now have a repertoire of more than 100 songs. Just like mixing dark chocolate with peanut butter, the duo makes sweet music as they play songs like "Sunny" "Wonderful World" and "Ashokan Farewell" at weddings, receptions and coffee houses around town.
"Mary can play by ear," Marsh-Ives says. "She finally got me to be able to improvise, which is a big step for a classical musician. (We get fired if we stray from the written music)." She says she'd probably get fired if she had to sing, too. "It's a good thing Mary sings. I can't remember words. And I tend to stop singing when playing. It's like two different operations with me."
LaFever, a graduate of the University of Washington School of Music, is well known in the Anchorage arts community. She landed on the scene in 1968 when she transferred here with Western Airlines reservations. A year later, she started teaching guitar. To support her teaching style La Fever wrote a self-teach guitar book that focuses on independent learning with online assistance. She says her educational objective is to hook people up with a positive addiction to music. "My passion is folk music and songs with heart," she says. "If it doesn't have a memorable melody line, great lyrics and potential for harmony, it doesn't stay in my song book." She wrote the book covering all the bases with a little theory, note reading, finger picking and songs, in order that anyone can look at the book and find what they need to start playing. In addition to performing as Troubadora, both LaFever and Marsh-Ives continue to teach music.
Marsh-Ives, who's played in the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra since 1980, gives cello, violin, guitar and recorder lessons during the day in her home studio. Marsh-Ives also paints landscapes and portraits. Call 278-8880 for more information or visit www.marsh-ives.com LaFever teaches guitar, piano/keyboard, trumpet and folk instruments. Many students are adults: teachers, parents, counselors and youth workers, other professionals; students younger than 5th grade usually start with baritone ukulele or piano. Anyone interested in lessons, the self-teach book, or to book Troubadora for a gig, can call 258-7002 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org