Salute to a Retired Teacher

An organ recital bade farewell to Sally Slade Warner on Sunday in Cochran Chapel, as she retired from the Clift Record Library. With Carolyn Skelton, John Skelton and Patrick Kabanda playing the organ and music teachers Christopher Walter and Allen Combs playing piano and singing tenor, the recital featured pieces by Buxehude, Pinkham, Mendelssohn, Bach, Duruflé, Langlais and the crowd favorite, Allen Combs and Christopher Walter themselves. The highlight of the recital occurred when Combs made a heartfelt speech about his appreciation for Warner and her significance in the community. This commendation of Warner was followed by the Combs and Walters original, “Songs for Sally.” As Combs put it, “For Sally, words must be spoken and songs must be sung.” “Songs for Sally” consisted of a medley of four compositions with lyrics all pertaining to Slade-Warner. After the first three songs and a few verses of the last, the whole audience chimed in with “Sal-ly War-ner, ’round the cor-ner.” Before the recital started, Walters walked up and down the aisles of the chapel handing out a few lines of musical score and lyricsprinted-out. Since the recital had such a large turn out—the audience filled the center two columns of the chapel from the stage all the way to the very back row—and the audience consisted mostly of Andover’s senior population who knew Warner personally, the whole chapel rang with voices filled with love for her. “I really liked it,” Noelina Nakiguli ’09 said, “I liked that he made a speech about Sally Warner, and that they actually composed a song…we got to sing along, so that was really fun.” Warner’s importance was made especially clear when Allen Combs spoke about his personal experience with her. During his first concert at Phillips Academy, Combs was “welcomed by a friendly face…Sally.” Combs said that even since then the Clift Record Library became a sort of haven for him. He spoke about how he had seen her extend the same cordial welcome to students, making the Clift Record Library a sanctuary for them. He recalled details about her that made her unique, such as her way with puns, and that she sang names of people with seven syllables to the tune of “On Top of Old Smokey.” “I didn’t have the privilege to meet Mr. Clift, though I wish I did…but I did have the privilege to meet the woman who kept the room with his name…where I will always feel welcomed,” Combs said.