Renaming Ceremony for the Sigal Music Museum

By | Monday, May 09, 2022 2 comments
Ribbon Cutting

In mid-2019 the Carolina Music Museum was renamed as the Sigal Music Museum in honor of my father, and in recognition of the gift of his collection to the museum. We have been trying to have a renaming ceremony ever since, but COVID has forced it to be delayed several times. Finally, on April 22, 2022, we were able to have the event, at which I was honored to speak and cut the ribbon for the opening. [For more on the Sigal Music Museum, see my prior post about it The Uncarved Block: the Sigal Music Museum]

I have been asked for a copy of my remarks, which I present here.

Good evening.

Thank you all for coming. I can’t tell you how excited, happy, and proud I am to be here today.

I suspect that only a few of you know the story of how my father’s collection made its way from Boston to its beautiful new home here in Greenville.

My father had been collecting musical instruments for decades. From time to time he would consider the question of what he wanted to have happen to them after he died – and then he wouldn’t do anything about it. Occasionally someone from one institution or another would approach him about the collection, but for a variety of reasons it never worked out.

And then he had his heart attack. When I heard the news, I called his hospital room from my home in Oakland, California. True to form, he said it was no big deal and he would be back at work by Wednesday – this was on a Monday. Well, I was glad to hear that!!! But… I decided to call his doctor just to be sure. His doctor said, “Ohhhh, no. No indeed. Your father is an 88-year-old man who just had a massive heart attack. You want to get out here right now.” So, I got on the next flight to Boston.

I spent a lot of time with dad at the hospital, talking about a lot of things – including, of course, what he wanted done with the collection. He said he would want it to stay together as much as possible, though he acknowledged that with a collection of its size, that could be a tall order. He recited a list of institutions where he might like to see the instruments go. He even talked about possibly starting his own museum - apparently, he told me, there was a crazy guy in South Carolina who had done just that!

Unfortunately, believing you are superman can only take you so far, and within about a week he was in a coma, and then died. Perhaps that is a lesson for all of us that think we are immortal.

In his will he left the collection to my mother, with a note asking her to dispose of it in accordance with his wishes. That became one of the main tasks that my mother, my sister Erica, and I, had on our plates. We spoke with most of the institutions he had previously named. Some of them wanted certain parts of the collection but not others. Some wanted the collection but with unacceptable provisos. And so on. The search for where the collection should go stretched out to months upon months.

Along the way, our good friend Darcy Kuronen connected me with Tom Strange, that crazy guy in South Carolina, and his museum. The Carolina Music Museum was very new; with no track record, but with the flexibility to make the decision to take the collection. And they wanted all of it! Every instrument, every book, every email my dad had sent or received, every everything. And in recognition, they wanted to rename the museum in his honor.

It sounded perfect, but it was still a difficult decision that we agonized over. Could they pull it off? Did it make sense for the collection to go somewhere with which my father had had no affiliation? How crazy was this [Tom] Strange guy? There were a couple of other good options, but in the end, this museum, this city, and these people won us over. And it was a great decision.

It is wonderful to see these pieces as they deserve to be seen. Not tucked into every corner of our former home. Now they will be cared for in perpetuity in an appropriate setting.

Finally, these instruments will be available for scholars, novices, or those that are simply curious to examine, study, or just to enjoy. Students can now come to see and to learn how these instruments contributed to the origins of Western musical traditions. And perhaps they may inspire young people to develop the kind of passion that my father, my mother, Tom, and everyone else here today all share.

My mother has since said that the gift to this museum has worked out better than she could possibly have imagined. I couldn’t agree more. My only regret is that my father didn’t make this move himself, so that he could see the care and appreciation that everyone at the Carolina Music Museum – now the Sigal Music Museum - has lavished on The Marlowe A. Sigal Collection.

Thank you.
Newer Post Older Post Home


  1. I was driving through Greenville, having completely forgotten what had transpired with my Cousin Marlowe’s spectacular collection.

    Marlowe and Elise, Erica and Andrew have been dear cousins and friends throughout my life. My Cousin Elise shared her home and cooking skills, spontaneous dinners and most of all her brilliant and sweet personality, filling in for my own parents while I went to college at BU, ten minutes from their home in Newton. In short, we developed s close and lasting connection, with a whole lot of fun in the middle!

    During my stint as a music major at BU, I schlepped professors and students alike to visit the incredible gem of a collection. I’ll never forget the night my music history professor ( who had done his dissertation on the Scarlatti harpsichord) regaled us with his lectures till all hours of the morning!

    So I let out a howl when I passes the Sigal Museum last summer. My sever and friend nearly ran us off the road! And we spent the next two hours exploring, listening and in awe of what had happened to the instruments. We heard guests exclaim over this or that instrument, or regret that they had no more room in the concert series.

    I was jubilant, and teary, seeing the life and passion that had been an integral part of my Cousins’ life be so well placed and taken care of…Thank you, Tom Strange!

  2. This is an amazing, fantastic and moving story. Congratulations to the Sigal family and Tom Strange!


We love getting comments! Thank you. Your comment may require moderation. If so, we will get to it as soon as possible.