As in his music, Richard Toensing (1940–2014) embraced the challenges of teaching with his simplicity inside complexity. He had an indelible ability to be engaging, stringent, rigorous, and nurturing all at once. He was well known for his integrity, his delightful wit, and his zero-tolerance policy for what he called “that bull-hooey ego nonsense that gets in the way of hard work and real life.”
Death sucks, not for the person who dies—it’s mostly a rational solution—but for the people who live on with the absence of a favorite living, breathing creature. There is a creepy scrawled note on my desk with “call Charlie” crossed off. For the past few years, we had been talking about making another Liberation Music Orchestra album.
Selected from a pool of over 80 applicants from across the country, Dan Visconti will be given the opportunity to work directly with the California Symphony and its music director Donato Cabrera over three consecutive years to create, rehearse, premiere, and record three major orchestra compositions, one each season.
I probably met Seymour in New York City sometime in the mid 1940s. Even then, Seymour made quite an impression as he walked into a room—a large, cheerful man swinging his cello at the end of his arm. As a musician, Seymour was remarkable to work with. Seymour could articulate and explain the structural intent of a given piece of music, and his playing was void of vanity.
After having toiled in the fields of Golden Books, television, and commercials (my wife can still sing you her Prince Spaghetti TV jingle), Mary Rodgers’s first breakthrough work was Once Upon a Mattress. By the time I worked with her, she had pretty much pushed Mary the composer to the back burner. But there were several of us who didn’t think the composer should retire completely.