C. Ivan Maracle

1923 - 1994

Ivan Maracle was a singer, choral conductor, and an accomplished guitarist. Known for his choral work in Canada, he also later directed concert choirs in Virginia, Florida, and Tennessee, and church choirs at the Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Takoma Park, Maryland and at the Sunnyvale SDA Church in California.

Born in Canada, Maracle began taking lessons on guitar in 1936, while still a teenager. He studied with Clarke Russell in Toronto and with Ross Hitch of the Toronto Symphony. At the same time, he began study in music theory, piano, and conducting at the Toronto Conservatory of Music.

Maracle attended Emmanuel Missionary College, now Andrews University, where Dwight Rhodes, who was in his junior year at the academy, became acquainted with him during the 1941-1942 school year. He later talked about that first encounter and subsequent interactions with Maracle:

He was a college student, but we both lived in Burman Hall, the boys' dormitory. He formed a male quartet using me as second tenor, Ivan Crawford as first tenor, and Bob Paddock as bass. He sang baritone. He played guitar, and I was fascinated by his technique of using individual fingers to pluck the strings.

His father, Charles, was owner of Maracle Press in Oshawa, Canada, a business he had started and built into a going thing. Ivan had also learned to be a printer. During the time I spent in the army, I lost track of him. Shortly after I was discharged in 1946, I received a letter from Ivan inviting me to come to Oshawa Missionary College [now Kingsway College] to sing in a quartet he was forming. I went to look over the place, attended a music program that featured his male chorus and a women's triple trio, and then attended the school for a year.

While I was a student at OMC, Ivan and his wife took me to Eaton Auditorium in Toronto, where we attended a concert by Andres Segovia, famed classical guitarist. That was a great experience.

When Ivan's father was later invited to be manager of Review and Herald Publishing in Washington, D. C., Ivan and his wife went with him. While there, he conducted the Sligo church choir for a few years. During this time, Ivan wrote an article on how hymns could be arranged and adapted for eight-part singing, which was published in Ministry Magazine.

Maracle took additional music study under George Wargo, formerly principal violist with the National Symphony, who was now chairing the music program at Washington Missionary College, now Columbia Union College, and conducting its chorale and orchestra. He also took lessons on guitar with Sophocles Papas and Dorothy Perrenoud at the Columbia School of Music in Washington and was introduced to Anatole Malukoff, noted guitarist of that time. Until Malukoff's death, Maracle would periodically seek him out for coaching.

Maracle later asserted that his most intensive guitar study was with Aaron Shearer, head of the guitar department at North Carolina School of Arts. Shearer's published authoritative treatise on guitar playing became the basis for Maracle's subsequent teaching of guitar in California, where he ran The Guitar Shop in Carmel-by-the-Sea, and served as a faculty member at the Peninsula Conservatory of Music in Burlington, for three years. He then established a classic guitar studio in Toronto.

Throughout his years of teaching and promoting guitar, he also directed choral groups. In the 1940s, he had started by conducting choral groups at Oshawa Missionary College and had sung in a male quartet, known as the Gospelaires, which had included Rhodes. This was the start of a career as a choral conductor that would span a half-century.

Near the end of his life, after conducting choral groups for 48 years, he set about organizing an a cappella choir that would bear his name and produce his concept of choral sound. His goal of producing a professional promotional CD that would lead to five to seven years of concertizing, sadly, had not been realized by the time he died in 1994.



Sources: Letter from Dwight Rhodes, 11 November 2007; Email from Rhodes (quoted in biography), 2 December 2007; letter from Maracle to the Rhodeses, 22 April 1987; Biography from his brochure about his guitar school in Toronto, Canada; Announcement about his A Cappella choir, February 1988.