Welcoming Rochester Music Hall of Fame
Dear Blog Visitors:
I am delighted that Rochester now has a Music Hall of Fame. It would be an understatement to highlight the fact that many of our world's notable musicians, ranging from the areas of classical to jazz to pop, had their roots in Rochester.
As I looked at the names of last night's honorees, and then browsed the names of potential honorees for next year's presentations, I came to realize that I knew many of these talented people personally. This may have something to do with the fact that my initial career path was indeed music. However, I bowed off the stage very early in life, when it became apparent that my musical path wasn't headed in the direction I had hoped, despite some early successes. I can still look back and appreciate the fact that I was the youngest person ever to guest-conduct the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and I can still appreciate the fact that many persons in my early life gave me encouragement to pursue whatever talents I had with my trumpet, singing and conducting abilities.
As a young classical musician in the 1960's and 1970's, I found myself in the midst of a highly competitive environment. Perhaps I gave up too soon. However, I nevertheless continue to delight in the successes of my peers and contemporaries who stayed the course toward their successful careers, whether it be in the classical, jazz, or pop realms.
As I looked at some of the inductees this year, I immediately recalled my direct and indirect connections to some of them; the same is the case with names being mentioned for next year's honors.
In the case of Chuck Mangione, he was student teaching at Franklin High School during my freshman year. His mentor for his student teaching was Benjamin Scammell, who was highly influential in my musical life. Chuck conducted the Franklin Band during many of our rehearsals, and he was especially fond of conducing 'Parade of the Charioteers' from Ben Hur.
Gene Cornish also graduated from Franklin High School (my alma mater). He went on to much notoriety via 'The Rascals.' I never got to know him personally. However, I was friendly with several musicians who worked with him.
Concerning next year's potential honorees, I am delighted that Renee Fleming is being mentioned. While she and I never collaborated musically, we did have the same voice teacher at the Eastman School of Music. His name was John Malloy, and he sadly died a few months ago.
I am equally delighted that Howard Hanson is being mentioned. Dr. Hanson had retired as director of the Eastman School of Music the year before I began my studies there. However, I spent many hours in Kilbourn Hall, watching in awe as Dr. Hanson rehearsed with his own Eastman Rochester Orchestra. Hanson's compositions remain as some of my favorites to this day.
Mitch Miller is obviously highly regarded by many in the Rochester area, and indeed throughout the world. My indirect connection to him was via his late sister, Fannie Mindel, who taught at my elementary school. I did meet Mr. Miller once, and I was a fan of his former television program, 'Sing Along with Mitch.'
I thought of additional names that should certainly be included in the Rochester Music Hall of Fame. Most certainly, Esther Satterfield should be an honoree. Esther and I were classmates at the Eastman School of Music, and her singing career skyrocketed via her recordings with Chuck Mangione, and later via her solo recordings. I would also highly recommend Chuck Brucato, who achieved much notoriety in our area as lead singer of the Rustix and composer of many hit songs. I am, of course, pleased to see that Lou Gramm is being mentioned as a future honoree as well. I knew Lou and his brother Ben when they played and sang in local bands, and Lou went onto national fame via his popular group, 'Foreigner.'
In conclusion, my congratulations to last night's honorees, and I look forward to future ceremonies honoring Rochester's finest in the musical field.
Peace to all,