Newspaper Articles About Chris' Remembering Album

AIDS Victims' Memory Lives On In Music:  Woman and daughter died after contracting AIDS from transfusion  - reprinted from the Channel 9 KMSP Twin Cities Fox News website.  This featured story was on their December 1 & 2, 2008 newscasts. This is a summary of the newscast.

     HASTINGS -- AIDS devastated a Minnesota family, claiming the life of a mother and her 5-year-old daughter. Monday, a family friend came through on a promise to honor their memory in a collection of songs.

     In a Hastings church, a promise made 12 years ago is finally fulfilled.

     "I promised her I would keep her memory alive."

     That's how long it took liturgist Chris Falteisek to compose a musical tribute to his friends Nancy and Candace Simon.

     Back in the 1990s, Nancy and her daughter Candace contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion. At first they kept their sickness hidden, but eventually took their message of AIDS awareness everywhere from rural Minnesota to Washington D.C.

     Candace died three days before her 6th birthday in 1993. Nancy died at age 32 in 1996.

     Monday night's performance is a reminder that years later, their lives continue to inspire. Sandy Scheffler, Nancy's sister, heard the music for the first time.

     "Hopefully Nancy's proud and Nancy and Candace are looking down, happy with what we've done," says Falteisek.


Prescott Resident's AIDS Musical is Dec. 1 in Hastings, article by Jason Schulte is reprinted from the November 25, 2008 Pierce County Herald

     PRESCOTT — Chris Falteisek has been a church accompanist for over 30 years, has performed in five U.S. states, in addition to three concerts in Norway, and has recorded 14 albums.

     For all those successes, his latest project might be the most personal to him. “Remembering,” a musical celebrating the lives of Nancy and Candace Simon, will be presented at 7 p.m. next Monday at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Hastings, Minn.

     The Prescott resident wrote the lyrics or came up with the music to all 17 songs.

     “I want to keep their memory alive and show that their deaths weren't in vain,” Falteisek said. “They spiritually enriched my life and taught me what living was really about.”

     Nancy and Candace were a mother and daughter who both died in the 1990s due to AIDS. Candace was 18-months-old in 1989 when Nancy and husband Doug found out she was diagnosed as being HIV-positive. She died in 1993, three days short of her sixth birthday. Nancy was also later diagnosed with HIV. She died in 1996 at age 32. Nancy is buried next to Candace at St. John's Catholic Church in Veseli, Minn. (Veseli is located about 60 miles south-southwest of Prescott. It's approximately 10 miles off of Hwy. 35.)

     Connection:  Falteisek, who grew up in Prescott, was in his first tour of duty as Director of Liturgy and Music for St. Elizabeth's when he corroborated with Sister Viola Kane in 1992 to write “God is in This Place,” a song for those suffering with AIDS. (He now has that job for the third time.)

     Kane loved the song so much she asked the song be dedicated to Candace. Candace was a grandniece to a fellow Sister at the church, Sr. Valeria Skulzacek.

     A month later, Chris met the family for the first time at a retreat and a friendship was born.

     “I was struck by (Nancy's) humbleness,” Chris said. “(Nancy) was an activist and, at that time, it was an embarrassment to have the disease. It was hard for her not to tell anyone that her daughter had AIDS.” The family traced it back to 1983, when Doug had a blood transfusion while in basic training at the Army National Guard.

     Less than a year after Chris met the family, Candice was dead. Chris played at her funeral in Veseli.

     Chris explained that, after Candace's death, Nancy was starting to get her message across.

     “In her quiet unassuming self, she was educating people about AIDS awareness,” Chris said. “She saw the need to educate each other.”

     Included in that was a passage from a speech Nancy wrote and gave on World AIDS Day in 1994, “We can reach out to those who have AIDS and to their families and friends with compassion and understanding. And that's what many people have done for us. They have reached out to us with love, compassion and understanding, and it's made a big difference in our journey with AIDS.”

     As AIDS started to take its toll on Nancy, Chris had the lyrics for “The Family” all done, but couldn't complete it, as he was suffering from writer's block. He even thought of putting off the song as he thought that wouldn't make her pending death a reality.

     Nancy died on May 24, 1996. He finished the song two days after her death and two days before her funeral, which was also in Veseli.

     “It was my way of coping and coming to terms with reality,” he said.

     With some songs in hand, Chris had a vision of what he wanted to do next to honor his friends. It became more focused after seeing the musical “Rent.” (Rent is a musical about young artists and musicians struggling to survive in New York, under the shadow of AIDS.)

     “I was going after the Midwest version of ‘Rent',” he explained. “Nancy was the person you would see in the grocery store, at the post office or dropping her kids off at school.”

     Ten years later, that vision has became reality.

     The performance: Falteisek said the night of the performance, Dec. 1, is significant, as that is World AIDS Day. The performance will also be a benefit for Hope House of St. Croix Valley in Stillwater, Minn., a place for people living with HIV/AIDS. Falteisek became involved with that place in the mid-1990's, when he spent two years as the Director of Liturgy and Music for St. Michael's Parish in Stillwater.

     The cast will feature Elizabeth Hermanson and Sarah Keller as Nancy and Candace Simon. Hermanson is the choir director at St. Elizabeth's, while Keller is Falteisek's assistant. Providing vocal narration is Kay Caturia, Heather Doffing and Jessie Holm.

     Besides the musical performance, Falteisek said “Testing the Human Spirit,” a photographic essay of the Simon family by Minneapolis Star Tribune Photographer Brian Peterson, will also be shown. Peterson followed the Simon family for six years. The essay ended up winning him the Robert F. Kennedy award for journalism.

     He said there will be no cost, as a free will offering will be taken. CDs will also be available for purchase. He added that, as of last week, Nancy's mother and sister, one of her sons, Eric, along with nieces and nephews were scheduled to attend. St. Elizabeth's is located at 2035 W. 15th St. in Hastings.

 

World AIDS Day Concert Honors Two Who Died of Virus, article by Pat Norby is reprinted from the November 25, 2008 Catholic Spirit

     St. Elizabeth Ann Seton premiers musical Dec. 1 to honor Simon family

     The delight on Chris Falteisek's face is tempered by sadness as he lifts photographs, letters, greeting cards and news­paper clippings from a well-polished wooden box.

     Atop the box is a message from his friend, the late Nancy Simon, that says, “What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.”

     In return for the many gifts he re­ceived from Nancy and her daughter, Candace, Falteisek has spent the past 10 years writing a contemporary musical called “Remembering: The Lives of Candace and Nancy Simon,” which portrays their life and death from AIDS.

     The musical will premier at 7 p.m. on World AIDS Day, Monday, Dec. 1, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Hastings, where Falteisek is the music and liturgy director.

     AIDS intensifies grief:  The death of a child or a mother is always painful. But when both mother and child die of AIDS, the grief is intensified.

     “I'm sure that there will be some good that will come out of it,” said Eric Simon, 22, who was 10 when his mother, Nancy, died in 1996.

     Eric, his brother, Brian, 24, and Nancy's sister, Sandy Scheffler, plan to attend the performance, along with other family members, Scheffler said.

     “I feel very honored that Chris has taken all this time that he's put into writing all this music for Nancy and Candace,” Scheffler said. “When Candace lost her life [in 1993 three days before her sixth birthday], pediatric AIDS was not very well understood.”

     Doug and Nancy Simon, then members of Most Holy Trinity in Veseli, found out in 1989 that their daughter, Candace, was HIV positive, which led to the discovery that they, too, were infected.

     In 1983, a year before the couple was married, Doug received a blood transfusion, which they later learned was tainted with the virus. Although their first two children, Brian and Eric, were not infected, the virus struck Candace with a vengeance.

     In Nancy's efforts to educate people about Candace's condition before the girl was to start preschool in 1991, she spoke to The Catholic Bulletin, now The Catholic Spirit, for an article.

     A documentary of the Simon family's struggle with AIDS was published over six years in the Star Tribune, with award-winning photographs by Brian Peterson, some of which will be presented in a slide show as part of the musical performance.

     In addition to media interviews, Simon also spoke at retreats for people with HIV/AIDS and their families after connecting with Sister Joanne Lucid, who directed the former archdiocesan AIDS Ministry office.

     Falteisek became friends with the Simons after he provided music for one of those retreats.

     “Candace and Nancy knew they were going to die, but they made their life a better life for those around them,” Falteisek said. “Not many people have the honor of meeting such heroic women.”

     Doug Simon is still living, but may not be attending the musical performance.

     A courageous woman:  Scheffler said that no one who knew her quiet, shy sister would have dreamed she would speak publicly about any issue, let alone AIDS.

     “She was so courageous and we are so fortunate to have had her be such a great role model for women living with AIDS and for mothers,” Scheffler said. “She was fighting for the moms and the children and the families. It wasn't as understood as it is now. And even now they have a long way to go.”

     Eric Simon said that he has blocked out a lot of memories from those years.

     “Whenever I see slide shows or videos, it does bring it back,” he said. “I think it's great what [Falteisek] is doing. I know he's been working on it a long time.”

     Scheffler said, “I felt privileged to journey with Nancy through the illness and be with her when she passed away…I'm so excited to see and hear the musical.”

     As time passes, grief lessens and people can think more clearly, she added.

     “I'm so excited for Brian and Eric, because their mom was such a terrific person and . . . maybe their memories have faded,” she said. “This will be good for them to see their mom was a wonderful, sweet woman.”

     Although Falteisek is the composer, producer and director of the musical and a CD, he said that it is “a tribute for women by women.”

     “Nancy and Candace were ordinary people with extraordinary talents, and I would say that our singers are the exact same [in] the life that they lead and the example they are,” he said.

     The vocalists, who all sing at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, are Kay Caturia, Heather Doffing, Jessie Holm, Elizabeth Hermanson as Nancy Simon and Sarah Keller as Candace Simon.  Norton Lawellin provided the orchestration and Falteisek was the pianist for the CD.

     CDs of the musical will be available after the performance and a free will offering will be taken to benefit Hope House of St. Croix Valley, a housing facility for people living with HIV/AIDS. 

AIDS Facts

 • 1981: CDC issues the first warning about a pneumonia effecting gay men.

• 1982: CDC identifies Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.

• 1985: At least one case of HIV/AIDS is identified in every region of the world.

• 1990: 10 million people are living with HIV/AIDS.

• 2008: About 40 million people are living with HIV throughout the world.

• In the U.S., more than 1.2 million people are infected. A new person is infected with HIV every 6.4 seconds.

Source: www.worldaidsdaytwincities.org

‘REMEMBERING' Musical at SEAS to Celebrate Lives of Mother and Daughter Who Lost Their Lives to AIDS, article by Jane Lightbourn is reprinted from the November 20, 2008 Hastings Star Gazette

     “Remembering,” a musical celebrating the lives of Candace and Nancy Simon, will be presented at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church, 2035 W. 15th St. The musical features the music of Chris Falteisek, director of liturgy and music at the church.

     The musical is a benefit performance for Hope House of St. Croix Valley, which offers co-housing for people living with HIV/AIDS.

     Nancy Simon didn't know she had the HIV virus until her daughter, Candace, was born in June 1988. Nancy's husband, Doug, had contracted the virus through a blood donation. Candace died in 1993, and Nancy died in May 1996, at the age of 32. After Candace and Nancy were diagnosed, Nancy became an advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness.

     These are her words from a speech she gave on AIDS awareness, “My Journey with AIDS: AIDS in the '90s. What does that mean? It's time to get involved. It's time to learn this life and death information; and I ask you; must we face this illness alone?

     “In 1989, not only did I find out that I was HIV positive, but I found out that someone I loved very much had AIDS. At that moment, I knew that life as I knew it would never be same.

     “I struggled until I accepted the illness. I knew it would only be a matter of time before Candace would become very ill. I was very frightened; the situation we were in was very devastating. But I would look at my two sons, who were healthy, and say how grateful I am that they weren't infected. I would always say it could be worse and in this, I found hope.

     “What kept me going? My faith, my trust in God, hope – I was always very hopeful  – although it was very hard at times.

     “We can reach out to those who have AIDS and to their families and friends with compassion and understanding. And that's what many people have done for us. They have reached out to us with love, compassion, and understanding, and it's made a big difference in our journey with AIDS.”

     Falteisek's involvement with the Simons began in 1992 when he met Sister Viola Kane. He received the following note with the lyrics for  “God is in This Place,” one of the songs in “Remembering.”

     “If you want to compose something special for our AIDS brothers and sisters, you may want to touch on such qualities as courage in darkness, hope in fear, compassion and trust in the journey through that valley of death. Here's a little something that might inspire you.”

     The song, “God is in This Place,” wrote itself, Falteisek said, in 20 minutes. This was the first song Falteisek and Sister Viola collaborated on together. The two worked together on four albums before Sister Viola's death from ovarian cancer.

     She asked the song be dedicated to Candace Simon, a niece of her colleague, Sister Valeria Skluzacek. In September 1992, Falteisek met Nancy and Doug Simon while playing piano for the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocesan Celebrating Life Retreat. The following month, Falteisek and his music group, Broken Silence, presented an AIDS benefit concert at St. Boniface Chapel in Hastings.

     The Simon family was in attendance, and the Seton School children made cards of support for the family.

     Shortly before Candace's death, Falteisek wrote “A Peaceful Release” for Nancy Simon.

     “It was my gift to Nancy to help her let go of Candace as she neared death,” Falteisek said.

     When Candace died in June of that year, Falteisek played for her funeral at St. John's Catholic Church in Veseli.

     Falteisek and friends provided music for the “Life with AIDS” presentation by Nancy Simon at St. Michael's Church in Prior Lake on Nov. 29, 1994.

     Nancy Simon died May 24, 1996, and three days later, Falteisek wrote “The Family” for her funeral. He had the lyrics for months, but put off writing the song, believing it would not make her immanent death a reality. The song was written two days after her death and two days before her funeral.

     At her funeral, Falteisek provided the music.

     The musical includes the following Falteisek's songs: “Arise My Love,” “Minutes in Time,” “Child of My Dreams,” “Make It Go away,”  “God is in This Place,” and “Blessing Song.”

     The musical will feature Seton vocalists Sarah Keller as Candace Simon, Elizabeth Hermanson at Nancy Simon, and Kay Caturia, Heather Doffing and Jessie Holm as narrators and vocal trio.

     A free will offering will be taken at the performance.

     The “Remembering” CD will be available for purchase at $15.

 

Prescott Resident Sees Labor of Love Come to Fruition, article by John McCloone is reprinted from the November 20, 2008 Prescott Journal

     Prescott resident Chris Falteisek will see his labor of love come to fruition on Dec. 1.

     Falteisek's musical “Remembering” will be performed on World AIDS Day at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish is Hastings.  Falteisek is Director of Liturgy and Music at the parish.

     “Remembering” has been a labor of love for Falteisek.  His website describes it as “a contemporary musical based on the lives of Candace and Nancy Simon and how their lives changed with the onset of AIDS.”

     The musical will debut at 7 p.m., and Falteisek's new compact disc offers music from “Remembering.”  The event is a fundraiser for Hope House of Stillwater.

     Chris met Nancy Simon and her husband, Doug, in 1992.  Doug Simon had a blood transfusion in basic training at the Army National Guard in 1983 and he contracted HIV.  The disease spread to Nancy Simon and her baby was born HIV positive, being diagnosed when she was 18 months.

     Candace Rose Simon died in 1993, just three days before her sixth birthday.  Nancy Simon died in 1996 at the age of 32.

     Chris Falteisek and his music group, Broken Silence, presented an AIDS benefit concert at St. Boniface Chapel in Hastings that the Simon family attended in 1992.

     In 1993, he wrote, “A Peaceful Release” for Nancy Simon.

     “It was my gift to Nancy to help ‘let go' of Candace as she neared death,” Falteisek said.

     In 1994, Falteisek and friends presented music during a World AIDS Day presentation on “Life With Aids” Nancy Simon gave in Prior Lake.

     Falteisek wrote “The Family” for Nancy Simon's funeral in May and he played at the funeral on May 29, 1996.

     Falteisek was inspired by Simon's words, from a speech on AIDS awareness.

     She said, “What kept me going?  My faith, my trust in God, hope – I was always very hopeful although it was very hard at times.

     “Watching my daughter struggle with her fight against AIDS, I got a lot of strength from her.  She was a very brave little girl – she was so strong.  She went through so much in her six years of life.”

     “We can reach out to those who have AIDS and their families and friends with compassion and understanding.  And that's what many people have done for us.  They have reached out to us with love, compassion and understanding, and it's made a big difference in our journey with AIDS,” Simon said.

     Learn more on Falteisek's Web site: www.falteisek.com

 

Falteisek Premiers Musical of Simon Family on World AIDS Day – reprinted from the November 18, 2008 Pierce County Herald

     On Monday, December 1, 2008 at 7:00 p.m., Chris Falteisek will premier his musical & latest album project, “Remembering: The Lives of Candace & Nancy Simon,” at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Hastings, MN on World AIDS Day. 

     “Remembering” tells the story of the Veseli, MN mother, Nancy Simon & her daughter, Candace who died of AIDS.  Nancy's husband, Doug Simon, contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion while he was in basic training in the Army National Guard in 1983. The Simon family was made aware of their situation in 1989, when their 18-month-old daughter, Candace was diagnosed as being HIV positive.  Through an award-winning photojournalistic essay in the Minneapolis Star Tribune by Brian Peterson, “Testing the Human Spirit,” the Simon family became AIDS activists by putting a face to this deadly disease.  Candace Simon died in 1993, three days before her sixth birthday, while her mother, Nancy died in 1996 at the age of 32.

     The performance of “Remembering” will consist of two parts – a slide show of Brian Peterson's photographic essay, “Testing the Human Spirit” which won Peterson the Robert F. Kennedy award for journalism & Falteisek's musical project, “Remembering” which deals with the relationship & life Nancy & Candace Simon.

     Chris Falteisek, a native & resident of Prescott, WI is currently the Director of Liturgy & Music at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Hastings, MN where the performance will take place.  The musical features Elizabeth Hermanson & Sarah Keller as Nancy & Candace Simon, with Kay Caturia, Heather Doffing & Jessie Holm as the vocal narrators.  “Remembering,” was recorded this fall at Track Record Studios in St. Paul, MN.  The December 1st performance also serves as an album releasing in which the family & friends of Nancy & Candace will be in attendance.  Refreshments will be served following the performance.  More information on “Remembering” can be found on www.falteisek.com. 

     “Remembering” is also a benefit performance for Hope House of the St. Croix Valley, which co-houses people living with HIV/AIDS.  A free will offering will be taken.