- Works for China
- A Homecoming
- Voices of Experience
- Shooting Star
- Made in Detroit, Mastered at Michigan
- A Free Man in Paris
- At Home Away from Home
- Giving Update
in every issue
Harry Begian, 1921-2010
Harry Begian, Ed.D., ’64 (music education), one of the world’s most renowned band conductors, died peacefully at his home in Alpena, MI last July at the age of 89. The son of Armenian refuges, he began his career as band director at Detroit’s Cass Technical High School, going on to appointments at Wayne State and Michigan State Universities, culminating in a spectacular fourteen-year tenure as director of bands at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. His fifty recorded albums and fifteen compact discs of the University of Illinois Symphonic Band have been hailed as the most distinguished and complete collection of recorded band performances in existence. A charter member of the American Band Directors Association, he was also a past president of the American Bandmasters Association and a member of the College Band Directors National Association.
After retiring from the University of Illinois in 1984, Begian returned to the podium to conduct the Purdue University Symphonic Band from 1985-87 and led an active life as guest conductor, clinician, and lecturer. In 1987, musicians of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, many of them former students, invited him to guest conduct a formal concert at Orchestra Hall. In 2005, Dr. Begian was inducted into the SMTD Alumni Society Board of Governors Hall of Fame (then called Citation of Merit). He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Emily Gibbs Begian.
John D. Kendall, 1917-2010
John D. Kendall, violinist and pedagogue widely known for his role in introducing the Suzuki method of music education in the U.S. and abroad, died at Arbor Hospice in Ann Arbor on January 6, at the age of 93. He was father of School of Music, Theatre & Dance Dean Christopher Kendall, with whom he had lived in Ann Arbor since 2005.
Mr. Kendall is responsible for teaching generations of Suzuki instructors who went on to disseminate the movement internationally. Today, at least a quarter-million children worldwide are learning the Suzuki method, according to the Suzuki Association of the Americas.
John Kendall was born in Kearney, Nebraska during the Depression and Dust Bowl era. He began violin lessons as a boy and went on to earn a bachelor’s from Oberlin College Conservatory and a master’s from what was then Columbia University Teachers College. His memoir, Recollections of a Peripatetic Pedagogue, was published a few months before his death. He and his wife Catherine, who died in 1998, conceived and contributed seed money for a nature preserve in Edwardsville, Illinois. With donations and grant money from the state and city, the Watershed Nature Preserve was created, now a valuable resource for environmental education and an expression of the Kendalls’ life-long interest in environmental issues.
Ralph B. Lewis, 1930-2011
Ralph B. Lewis, professor of music theory at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance from 1969 until his retirement in 1998, passed away on Friday, January 28, 2011 at 80 years of age at Arbor Hospice in Ann Arbor. Lewis came to the School in 1965 as a lecturer, then associate professor, until attaining the rank of full professor in 1969. He received a Ph.D. in music theory from the Eastman School in Rochester and was subsequently a post-doctoral scholar at Harvard, then a Carnegie Corporation Postdoctoral Fellow at Michigan. Along with his appointment on the faculty at the School, he was associate dean of the Rackham School of Graduate Studies from 1969 to 1977 and chair of the Department of Music Theory from 1979-1998, where he oversaw significant re-staffing efforts during the departures of three tenured faculty members.
With his wife, Gloria DeFeo Kitto Lewis, who survives him, Lewis was the co-founder of the Ann Arbor Camerata, the professional resident chamber ensemble of Ann Arbor. A funeral was held at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Ann Arbor on February 4.
Mary Wharton Shuford Palmer, 1916-2011
Mary Palmer, BM ’37 (music theory), passed away on March 31, 2011, at the age of 95, at Huron Woods Assisted Living Facility in Ypsilanti. She and her husband Bill built a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, The Palmer House, where Mary lived for 55 years before finally selling it to a young couple who shared her vision that the house should be preserved for others. “Mary Palmer's influence on those of us lucky enough to have known her was profound,” says good friend Martin Katz, professor of collaborative piano. “It remains so despite her passing. Music, literature, architecture, sculpture, gardens, painting, and dance were her daily bread. A tireless supporter of the School, of UMS, of the U-M Museum of Art; indisputably Ann Arbor is a better place because of Mary.” A memorial celebrating Mary's life will be held at a later date in Ann Arbor.
H. Dennis Smith, 1937-2011
H. Dennis Smith, SMTD professor emeritus of trombone, once described by Zubin Mehta as “one of the finest instrumentalists I have ever met,” passed away on February 26, 2011, after a battle with cancer, surrounded by his wife and family in Frisco, TX, where he had been living since his retirement.
Before joining the faculty in 1980, Smith was principal trombonist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Detroit Symphony, and the Utah Symphony. Along with his vast orchestral experience, Smith came to the School with both extensive chamber music and teaching credentials. He had been a member of the Brass Arts Quintet of New York City, the Los Angeles Brass Quintet, the University of Utah Brass Quintet, the Symphonic Metamorphosis on London Records, the Brass Arts Trio of the University of Puget Sound, and the Second City Chamber Series in Tacoma, WA. A graduate of USC, he was former head of the Brass Department of the Music Academy of the West and taught at the California Institute of the Arts, California State at Fullerton and Northridge, Brigham Young University, University of Utah, Western Washington University, and the University of Puget Sound. He appeared throughout the U.S. as soloist and clinician.
Two memorial recitals are planned for Professor Smith: July 23, 2:00 p.m., at Caruth Auditorium at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts in Dallas and on September 25, 2:00 p.m., at Britton Recital Hall at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance in Ann Arbor.
Shirley Verrett, 1931-2010
Renowned mezzo-soprano Shirley Verrett died Friday, November 5, 2010 in Ann Arbor, MI at the age of 79. The School held a tribute to her life and work the following week.
“She was one of America’s greatest opera singers,” said George Shirley, professor emeritus of voice and longtime friend and colleague, in an interview for The Detroit Free Press. “She had a tremendous impact artistically and as a person, and in recent years she was a wonderful teacher and mentor for students.”
Ms. Verrett joined the faculty in 1996 as the James Earl Jones Distinguished University Professor of Voice, recruited by Mr. Shirley. Before joining the faculty, she performed over forty roles, both in the U.S. and abroad, making opera history in 1973, singing both Dido and Cassandra in Les Troyens at the opening night of the Metropolitan Opera’s production, stepping in for an ailing colleague. She won over Italian opera fans in a 1975 in the soprano role of Lady Macbeth at La Scala. She was known for—and riveting in—her mezzo-soprano roles as Bizet’s Carmen, her 1968 Metropolitan Opera debut, and Saint-Saëns’s Delila.
Always an elegant presence around the School, Verrett mentored students both in vocal skills and professionalism. A term was even coined to describe the transformative experience of time well spent in her studio, as becoming “Verretticized.” Lydia Qiu, SMTD collaborative pianist who worked with her, says, “She will be sadly missed as a wonderful artist, a caring mentor, and a gentle soul.”
George E. Casper, MM ’38, in public school music, died February 12, 2011
Ardell (Hardy) Cleland, BM ’35, in public school music, died January 11, 2011
Doris (Clarke) Rockerhousen, BM ’33, in music literature, died October 30, 2010
Zara E. (Laux) Dick, BM ’49, in piano, died November 3, 2009
Richard E. King, BM ’49, MM ‘51, in music theory, died June 23, 2009
Wilbur Roy Schnitker, MM ’40, in music theory, died November 11, 2010
Ruth A. Stolfo, MM ’41, in music education, died July 16, 2006
Frances (Bostwick) Tripp, BM ’1945, in music education, died December 4, 2010
Barbara F. Zwayer, BM ’43, in organ, died December 9, 2010
George Ward Irving, BA ’51, MA ’52, in theatre, died December 5, 2010
Howard Alan Jewell, MM ’58, in music literature, died September 21, 2010
Samuel D. Miller, MM ’56, Ph.D. ’62, in music education, died November 20, 2009
Phyllis J. Stringham, MM ’55, in organ, died February 12, 2010
Marvin W. Davenport, MM ’62, in music education, died October 16, 2010
Joe L. Long, DMA ’69, in voice, died November 29, 2010
H. Edward Tibbs, MM ’57, DMA ’67, in organ, died September 17, 2010
Irene Ann Brychcin, MM ’70, DMA ’74, in clarinet, died November 14, 2010
Walter C. Richardson, MM ’73, in voice, died October 10, 2010
Douglas I. Smith, BM ’70, in wind instruments, died September 28, 2010
Andrew C. Clark, MM ’90, in organ, died November 2, 2010
Harold S. Lanier, MM ‘’92, in piano, died January 4, 2011
Sunil J. Rajan, BFAT ’96, in theatre & drama design and production, died May 1, 2010