A Touch of Love: Memories of Frank Wallace

The dates and times are a blur. Did I meet Frank Wallace the year he became director of the BCGS or was it later? Did I study with him in 2011 or 2012 or 2013? When did he and Nancy sit on my deck and eat grilled haddock with a mango chutney where Nancy accidentally let slip that David Russell was scheduled for the upcoming season? I have no idea. It does not matter. Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” My experiences with Frank transcended time and space and I was left with how he made me feel: talented, witty, caring and even beautiful. Because Frank was about expressions of beauty.

While I do not remember the date, I do remember the moment we met. It was at a Boston Guitar fest quarter-finalist performance. Sitting in the auditorium, mesmerized by the talent, I sighed at the end of one piece. A voice behind me, picking up on my emotions said, “ Amazing wasn’t it?” I turned and was met with a friendly smile. “Hi. I’m Frank Wallace.” He spoke of his love for BCGS and encouraged me to participate more. When he asked how I came to be a classical guitarist I answered with an essay. The title alone, “A Sixteenth-Century Spanish Mystic and a Dead Cat” piqued his interest and he asked me if he could publish it in the BCGS newsletter. His encouragement with this is a feeling that stays with me still.

In my first lesson with him, I learned of his love of all types of guitars and he showed them with pride. He was underwhelmed by my Villa Lobos Prelude Number 1 and he let me know that. I then played a piece by Per-Olov Kindgren called “A Touch of Love” and his delight was evident. He said, “The piece is aptly named. Play it again.”

Snippets of memories. His tireless energy spent advancing 21st-century music. At a church near his home where he was making a recording, the excitement in his voice as he describes the process. A request:

“Donna, do you think you can do anything to get Scott Borg from running all over the stage when he conducts?”

“No Frank. Like you, he has great passion as he invites us in with every movement.”

Frank conceded the point. At the previously described dinner on my deck, when he realizes Nancy has let the cat out of the bag about David Russell, the look he gives his wife-frustration mixed with endearment- spoke to the nature of their soul mate relationship. You all have those memories of Frank. Why? Because you remember how he made you feel.

In the last several months of his life, I started to send him origami crane boxes filled with Reiki infused crystals, representing one of each of the seven chakras of the body. We made it up to the fourth chakra. I thought maybe I had not respected the fact that time was not on his side and that I should have sent the rest sooner. But we were never about time. And maybe it was fitting that the last crystal crane box I sent was the fourth chakra, the Heart Chakra, A Touch of Love.

He was intrigued by the question “Why do we play” and posed it with one of my essays entitled Bella, about a 5-year-old girl who is enthralled with my playing on a Saturday morning in a hectic coffee shop. Why do we play?” In the essay, my response was, “After all, who can argue when Beauty walks in, sits down, looks up with joyful, innocent, smiling eyes and asks, “And will you play another?” Were he to ask that now, my answer would be the same. After all, who can argue when A Touch Of Love walks into your life and says, “Play it again.”

Donna Ricci

Donna Ricci

Donna has been a BCGS member since she met Frank Wallace, and was a member of the Boston Guitar Orchestra for several years. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and owns an archery studio in Amesbury, MA. She can be reached at D_Ricci@msn.com.