(Gazette | Gary Budzak)
Any couple that’s been married for 45 years must be in tune with each other, which is definitely the case with music teachers Marilyn and Robert Nims.
“We’ve always worked together — voice and keyboard,” said Marilyn, a mezzo-soprano. “Bob has tremendous facility as a collaborative pianist. I think we’ve kind of evolved together, and a lot of things go unspoken. When I decide I want to do something different with a phrase, he goes whoops, there she goes, and he’s with me – I never have to discuss it.”
“She doesn’t think about it, but when we’re practicing, she’ll simply start, and we always start together,” Bob said. “I find it really funny, because I don’t think I do that with anybody else. She never tells me where she is, she just goes.”
“There’s been a nice rapport from the very beginning, in 1965,” Marilyn said.
The couple will present a free faculty recital at 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, at Ohio Wesleyan University’s Jemison Auditorium inside Sanborn Hall, 23 Elizabeth St.
The recital is called “Manners … the way we are,” and will consist of art songs (classically composed music set to sung poems or text), songs from music theatre and lullabies, mostly sung in English.
“Each of these pieces was selected to give a little glimpse of human nature,” Marilyn said. “There are a few things on the program that are actually spiky, and a lot of beautiful music that’s easily understood. The songs that we’ve chosen for this one are some favorites, but some are new to us, and some things we’ve been teaching our students. But each one of these are chosen for their accessibility and its ability to be meaningful.”
Bob modestly said he’s a better baritone vocalist than a pianist, although he doesn’t sing in concert anymore. Yet he flashed his skills when he played the Steinway recently in rehearsal at Jemison.
Marilyn said her husband is not merely an accompanist. “It really is very much a partnership, but usually the singer gets top billing because you’re out facing people.”
Marilyn is originally from western Massachusetts, and Bob is originally from Vermont. The music majors met at Boston University.
“I was doing a doctoral of music arts, and she was doing an undergraduate degree, so I robbed the cradle,” Bob joked.
“He was doing the DMA in organ, but after meeting me and getting involved in the whole voice thing, he switched to voice,” Marilyn said. “So he robbed the cradle, but I robbed the organ staff.”
Bob began teaching voice at Ohio Wesleyan in 1971, retiring in 2002. He said his mother was a 1927 OWU graduate, and he received his own music degree there in 1963. Nims, who has frequently been an organist at area churches, currently is an adjunct professor at OWU and Otterbein University. Marilyn said he’ll teach another year.
Marilyn began teaching at OWU in 1984, and said she’ll retire at the end of the current school year.
They have lived in Delaware since 1971, where they raised their children, Abigail and Anthony, professional musicians in their own right who attended OWU. Bob said they have enjoyed living and working in Delaware, with Marilyn calling it a comfortable community and a people-centered place.
The couple would like to continue to perform recitals, only they may go out to other venues in the community, such as retirement homes, to “bring a little light to people’s lives,” as Marilyn put it.
“There’s a great treasury of humanity in the art song. As we’re moving out of the academic world, we’re thinking how can we bring some of these gems to the public,” she said.