Edith Vail Ross kept up a steady correspondence with her parents in Rutland, Vermont in 1903. She had made progress over the last year in New York City learning new songs and gaining experience in auditions and listing to other artists. It had been a fruitful year for her and as the “season” was coming to a close in New York City, her parents started to make arrangements for her return to Rutland, Vermont for the summer.
Edith however had other plans. She felt that the months of work she had accomplished were finally resulting in some fruitful contacts and successful one-song audition opportunities. She wrote to her parents on an evening in early June, “Tomorrow night Miss Schirmer and I are going to see a friend of hers a Miss Collins who is a very brilliant woman, mentor of clubs etc. Knows a lot about music and is very influential in musical circles. Suppose I shall have to sing a little for her and then I guess Miss S. will have her come to the studio and she is very anxious for her to get interested in me and help me as she has helped other musicians very much. I had a letter from Mr. Penfield last night asking me to sing Sun. June 14 down at Five Points Mission and I feel that it is a splendid opening for me and one that I must not miss so I think I had better stay in N.Y. til after that.”
In anticipation of her father’s reaction Edith closed her letter by restating again, “I think I can’t afford to miss singing at “Five Points” where many of the finest singers in the world have sung. Mr. Penfield is going to advertise it and as many influential people are interested something may come of it. You know I must take advantage of all opportunities“.
She followed up in another letter just the next day with details of a visit “Miss Schirmer and I went down to “Five Points”. It is a wonderful place. They have a beautiful Chapel with a very good pipe organ a fine place to sing and they said my voice sounded beautiful in it. Mr. Penfield thinks I had better sing “Come Unto Him”. He says that for a rich full voice like mine that is the sort of a thing (simple and with feeling). He says it is the voices with no music in them that have to resort to showy things where they can show technique, which is all they have to show. My name will be printed in the programme. These poor desolate
little children are picked up off the street and taken in there. It is their home. They live there all the time, just like a boarding school or a home for children. There are a whole lot of them from babies up to 14 or 15 yrs of age.”
The musical details Edith shares are all of full merit, but she is also an ambitious daughter and she smartly played her hand that she will be singing for the benefit of orphaned children, so certainly a delay in returning home was warranted! There is no surviving response from her parents, but Edith continued to prepare for the performance.