Marianne Sjorén Scriven
Marianne Scriven, a soprano soloist and pianist, taught voice and conducted choirs at three Seventh-day Adventist colleges. She has also served as a minister of music, conducted independent choral groups, and is a preferred accompanist. More recently, she has worked in health-related services for over two decades.
Scriven was born in Stockholm, Sweden, the daughter of Kerstin and Hans S. Sjorén. Marianne and her mother emigrated to the U.S. when she was three, following Hans, who had preceded them six months earlier. She would spend her childhood and teenage years in Western Springs, Illinois, near Chicago, where her father had his dental practice.
From 1953 to 1960 and again from 1963 to 1965, she studied piano under Helen Frisch Cunat of the Chicago Conservatory of Music. From 1960 to 1963, she studied piano with Mollie Margolies at the Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University, now the Chicago College of Performing Arts. Beginning in 1960 and continuing for five years, she studied violin with Lily Duvall Schaber at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, now located in Hammond, Indiana.
Following graduation from Lyons Township High School in La Grange, Illinois, in 1963, Sjorén completed an associate degree at the local junior college two years later and then enrolled at Andrews University. She completed a B.A. in German with a minor in music in 1967 and, a year later, graduated summa cum laude with an M.Mus. in voice performance at AU, studying with Gerald Ferguson.
Sjoren started work on a doctorate at the University of Missouri at Kansas City in1968, where she studied voice with Richard Knoll for two years. Additional voice study was taken from Rilla Mervine at Catholic University of America in the Washington, D.C. area from 1971 to 1973. She completed a DMA at UMKC in vocal pedagogy in 1973, with a secondary emphasis in music history. The subject of her dissertation, The Art Songs of Wilhelm Peterson-Berger, was a Swedish composer who lived from 1867 to 1942.
Sjoren married Charles Scriven, who had completed a B.D. degree at the AU Seminary in 1968. They moved to Takoma Park where he served as associate editor of Spectrum, a Seventh-day Adventist periodical, and she taught voice and diction classes as an adjunct faculty member at Columbia Union College during the three years they resided there.
In 1973, the Scrivens moved to College Place, Washington, where he taught journalism at Walla Walla College, now University, and she again assisted in the music department as an adjunct teacher of voice and diction. Two years later, they relocated to Pacific Union College in California, where she served as an assistant professor for three years and then as associate professor for one year.
During her four years at PUC, in addition to teaching voice and music classes, Scriven directed I Cantori, a select choral group that performed numerous times in the region and on campus and toured in Poland in December 1978. She also directed the Silverado Singers, an independent group located in nearby Napa, from 1978-79 and sang as a soloist in the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Napa from 1976 to 1979.
From 1973 to 1979, Scriven did short term voice study with Joseph Klein and attended choral workshops conducted by Louis Magor, Paul Salomunovich, and David Willcocks, the latter on two occasions, and a voice master class conducted by Klein. She also served as an accompanist for Kato Havas String Workshops held at PUC in 1978 and 1979. It was at this time that her career successes were honored with the Andrews University Alumna of Achievement Award in 1978, and a listing in Outstanding Young Women of America in 1979.
In 1979, the Scrivens returned to WWC, where he had been invited to teach in the theology department and she to serve as director of vocal/choral activities. Her selection as head of that area of instruction was the first time in over forty years that a woman had been appointed to that position at WWC. Her seven years at the college would also be the longest tenure of any woman choral director in the school's first century.
She took a sabbatical in March of her first year to sing in the world famous London Bach Choir for six months and study voice at Cambridge University. The school paper, The Collegian, featured an article in January 1980 that provided details about the experience:
Sir David Wilicocks, director of the London Bach Choir at the Royal Conservatory of Music in London, asked Scriven to join the group last summer after she attended his workshop in Loma Linda, California. Willcocks is one of the best-known and respected choral directors in England.
Scriven will leave Walla Walla on March 15 to sing with the choir in London. The group will visit such famous cathedrals as Exeter, Wells, and Truro where they will perform Bach’s B Minor Mass for Choir and Orchestra.
Scriven will also study under Simon Preston at Cambridge University. Preston is the director of the King’s College Boys’ Choir. While in the United Kingdom, she will serve as a piano accompanist for the Kato Havas Summer Workshop for Strings in Oxford.
Under her direction, the college choral groups performed the German Requiem by Brahms with the Walla Walla Symphony in 1981, as well as the Verdi Requiem in 1982; the Faure Requiem with Thomas Hampson and Julie Boyd as soloists in 1984, accompanied by the college orchestra; and Rutter’s Gloria, also in 1984. Her accomplishments with the select choir, I Cantori, included a trip to Romania and the Soviet Union in 1982 and an invitational performance as a featured choral group at the Washington Music Educators Association Convention in 1986.
The 1982 I Cantori tour, taken during Christmas break, was a thrilling and exhausting experience for its members and director Scriven. A December 9 article in the school paper by Kristi Lang described the planned itinerary:
In Romania, the group will be traveling to various cities in which they will perform at schools, civic organizations, and Houses of Culture," artistic societies in different towns. Also on the itinerary is the Conservatory of Music in Bucharest and Transylvania, home of Dracula’s castle. One day is set aside for skiing in the Carpathian Mountains.
On Christmas Eve, members and their entourage will fly to Moscow where, hopefully, they will sing for the American Embassy Christmas Eve Ball. I Cantori will be seeing such sights as the Kremlin and Bolshoi Ballet. The group will also fly to Kiev and Leningrad, where they will also be performing.
The group was able to sing in the Ambassador’s residence for a religious Christmas Eve service, which helped ease some of the loneliness members felt that evening. In an article titled "To Russia with Love," published in that year's Mountain Ash, school yearbook, Lang shared her impressions of that trip:
In general, we found the people unfriendly and cold... . There were two exceptions to this, church members and those who attended our concerts.
At the church in Moscow people seemed to accept us, yet they were indifferent and aloof. But at the church in Romania, the people were excited at our being there. They were forward and wanted to talk to us. Those who couldn’t speak English crowded around us to either look or touch. They seemed a happy people in spite of their oppression.
The adage that music is a universal language is very applicable. Those who attended our concerts were enthusiastic and seemed to appreciate our music. Many of our performances were given at schools of music and conservatories. The students were very curious and asked many questions. They liked our music and several of us came back minus copies of sheet music....
It was a learning experience in that we were able to see first-hand what life is like in those two countries. Of course, we were restricted to certain areas, but there was no way to restrict the looks on people’s faces....
Scriven also served as Minister of Music for the college church, in addition to her full schedule as teacher and mother. She was a sought-after accompanist and frequently assisted singers and instrumentalists in recitals. In 1986, the Scrivens accepted positions at the Sligo Seventh-day Adventist Church in Takoma Park, Maryland, he to serve as Senior Pastor and she as Minister of Music.
She served in that position for three years before deciding to work in the medical field, a childhood dream. She earned a degree in public health and held different positions before going to work in the human resources department at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, Maryland, where she serves as Benefits Communication Manager at Adventist Health Care, Inc.
Even with the vocational change, Scriven has continued to be active in music. For several years she conducted the Hill Haven Choir, an ensemble that performs in churches without choirs and for special events. When Shady Grove added a new entry with a spacious lobby that included a small grand piano, she initiated a series of short popular concerts given during the day to help create a restful ambiance for patients and family as they enter the hospital.
Sources: Marianne Sjorén Scriven, Professional Resume, 1980; "Concerts’ offered in lobby of Shady Grove Hospital," Contessa Crisostomo, Gazette.Net, Maryland Community News Online; The Collegian, 31 January 1980 and 9 December 1982; The 1982 Mountain Ash; Immigration Records, 1949 and 1950; Lake Union Herald, 1 September 1970, 14; Personal Knowledge.