Nara Zvejnieks Snornieks – August 6, 1925 – April 6, 2004
Nara Zvejnieks Snornieks, 78, concert pianist and artist teacher, died suddenly at her home in Raleigh on Tuesday, April 6, 2004. She was predeceased by her husband, lawyer and musician Arvids Karlis Snornieks, in 1982.
Nara was born in Riga, Latvia. She held the M.M. and Artist Diploma from the Conservatory of Riga (now the Latvian Academy of Music). She and her husband escaped to Bavaria (Germany) toward the end of World War II. In 1950, they immigrated to the United States in 1950, and she did advanced study and coaching with Dr. William S. Newman of UNC-Chapel Hill. She and her husband maintained a large music school in New Bern and Havelock before moving to Raleigh in 1968 at the invitation of A. J. Fletcher. In addition to concertizing as a soloist and accompanist, she maintained a full teaching schedule in Durham and then in Raleigh, lectured on music and on politics in Latvia and the Soviet Union, served as organist at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in New Bern, National Opera Chairman for the National Federation of Music Clubs, North Carolina State President for NFMC, and in many positions of the NCFMC, the NC Music Teachers Association, the National Guild of Piano Teachers, the Raleigh Piano Teachers Association, the Raleigh Music Club, and the North Carolina Federation of Woman’s Clubs.
She was awarded the Medal of Honor (“Americanism Medal”) by the DAR, New Bern, and honored by the Nara Snornieks Piano Scholarship at St. Andrews Presbyterian College and the Nara Snornieks Piano Scholarship by the NC Federation of Music Clubs, Western District. Several hymns were written, composed and dedicated to her, and she was elected to the Hall of Fame of the Piano Guild, USA.
She was a member of the National Music Library Association, St. Andrews Lutheran Church in New Bern, the Durham Music Teachers Association, and a life member of the National Federation of Music Clubs and the American Latvian Association. She served as a member of the Music Advisory Council for the Governor’s State Recreation Commission, the NC Educators Association, the First National Advisory Council at Brevard Music Center, and the Raleigh Cultural Center (now United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County).
She is listed in the Who’s Who of American Women , Dictionary of International Biography , Who’s Who in the South and Southwest , Personalities of the South , 2000 Women of Achievement , The National Register of Prominent Americans , The National Social Directory , Who’s Who in National Federation of Music Clubs , and Latvian Encyclopedia . Her numerous piano students are performing, teaching and serving as ministers of music and organists throughout the world.
Nara was loved and respected as a musician, a teacher, and a loyal and faithful friend. She lived her life with remarkable courage and never lost her wit, compassion, understanding, and genuine sympathy. She was dedicated and devoted to her work, and those who knew her or studied under her expert, disciplined tutelage will never forget her.
Nara was a 35-year member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 2723 Clark Avenue in Raleigh, where a memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, May 1. Memorial contributions may be made to the Nara Snornieks Memorial Fund c/o Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, 2723 Clark Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27607-7199.
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James Meredith was among her many students. The Director of the Sonos Handbell Ensemble and occasional accompanist of Frederica von Stade writes:
“I have so many experiences with her and her husband Arvids. I could not have been more fortunate to have had her as my first piano teacher. When I see how many people teach piano, and how many really don’t have much to offer, I know the gods were looking over me when we moved to New Bern and a family across the street had kids studying with her. I had been playing on my own for almost two years and had learned the Chaminade “Scarf Dance.” When my mom called Mrs. S., she was hesitant to take me, fearing that I had formed bad habits on my own. When she heard me she agreed…. I had only five years with her, but what rich times they were! I grew up attending and participating in many Federation of Music Clubs festivals plus competitions and Piano Guild adjudication’s and was organist and later choir director at St. Andrew’s Lutheran in New Bern, the church that had sponsored Nara and Arvids when they were displaced persons after the WW II. (They got me the job.) They had been detained and interned in Germany while touring from Latvia. She was uncompromising in her expectations at lessons and gave her entire life to teaching students, the majority of whom did not match up to her output. When I was there she had 75 students – and fifteen cats, each with its own diet. That alone, even accounting for faults, should gain her a celestial seat!”
Posted 4/18/04 with thanks to Karen Wiebe and James Merdith….
Durham School of the Arts Chorale Wins Triangle Trophy (4/5/04)
The Durham School of the Arts (DSA) Chorale, directed by Scott B. Hill, is the winner of the first annual Triangle Youth Chorus Trophy. Along with the Trophy, the Chorale received a $750 cash grant plus music scores and recording services valued at about $500.
The award was made possible by contributions from the Alice and Lance Buhl Fund and the Youth Pro Musica Fund of the Triangle Community Foundation, Hinshaw Music Company, Walton Music and an anonymous donor. The cash grant is to be used at Mrs. Hill’s discretion for the benefit of the Chorale and/or DSA’s vocal music department. Hinshaw Music, based in Chapel Hill, also is providing a $300 credit to the school for the purchase of music for one year, and Mark Manring, a Raleigh recording engineer who produces CDs for many local music events, is donating a professional recording and edited master of a concert by the chorus.
The Trophy was commissioned by TriangleSings!, the choral website. It features an inventive metal sculpture designed by Lyle Estill, founder of The Moncure Chessworks, and executed by his colleague, Tuesday Fletcher. Depicting 14 choristers, with plaques for 30 years of recipients, the [t]rophy is akin to a “Stanley Cup” for choristers – celebrating the achievements of young ensembles and their conductors.
The announcement and presentation were made at the school, located at 400 North Duke Street, on Monday, April 5, at 3:00 p.m. during the Chorale’s rehearsal, in the basement of the school’s Weaver Auditorium. Principal Chris Bennett looked on approvingly.
The 2004 competition was open to public high school and middle school choirs with at least 25 members, located in Wake, Durham, Orange and Chatham counties. Three Raleigh ensembles also were finalists: the Enloe High School Chamber Choir, directed by Ann L. Huff; the Leesville Road High School Capital Pride, directed by Diane Covington; and the Sanderson High School Sandpipers, directed by Marshall E. Butler, Jr.
The 64-member DSA Chorale is the most advanced of the nine performing vocal ensembles at the Durham School of the Arts. Local audiences have seen the group at the Annual Vigil Against Violence, the Duke Children’s Classic, the annual Light Up Durham celebration, services at Duke Chapel, and concerts of the Choral Society of Durham and Durham Symphony. The Chorale has received “Superior” ratings at regional choral festivals, and has won competitions in Orlando, Philadelphia and Williamsburg, Virginia.
The winning chorus was selected by an Advisory Board composed of nine local individuals with special knowledge of ensemble singing – as educators, conductors, reviewers, radio hosts, singers and choral enthusiasts. The members are: Lance Buhl, Buhl Associates; Beverley Francis, Triangle Community Foundation; Carl Halperin, Durham Herald-Sun/ WCPE-FM; Ken Hoover, WCPE-FM; John Lambert, Classical Voice of North Carolina ( CVNC ); Lisa McIver, Brightleaf Music Workshop; Fran Page, Capital City Girls Choir/Meredith College; Carol Robbins, Youth Pro Musica Fund/TriangleSings!; Al Sturgis, North Carolina Master Chorale/Carolina Ballet. Each year’s winning choir’s director will join the panel to decide the following year’s recipient.
In addition to distinguished performance – as demonstrated in sample recordings submitted by competing choruses – the panel looked for positive influence on and involvement with the school, families and community; evidence of understanding music and of the joy of ensemble singing; and development in choir size, quality, musical undertakings and/or cultural diversity.
The Trophy will be awarded to a different school chorus each spring, with a call for entries during the preceding fall.
For further information, contact Carol Robbins of the Youth Pro Musica Fund/TriangleSings! (919/545-0343) or Scott Hill (919/560-3926, extension 23233).
Adapted from a 4/5/03 press release issued by Michael R. Yarbrough, Media Relations Coordinator, Office of Public Affairs, Durham Public Schools.


Fundraising & People in the News & More (4/2/04, revised 5/2/04)
Despite several days of adverse weather, Charlotte’s Arts & Science Council topped its fund-raising goal by $80,000, raising $10,380,000 in pledges – an increase of more than $170,000 over last year’s drive – and doing it in just a little over six weeks. In comparison, the goal of the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County is $580,000, and its drive is not complete. For the record, Charlotte/Mecklenberg is not 17.9 times larger or 17.9 times richer than Raleigh/Wake….
Chamber Music America has announced its receipt of a four-year $2,075,000 grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation that will enable the national service organization to expand its existing programs and services to the jazz community.
The Asheville Symphony has earned a $50,000 challenge grant from the Susanne Marcus Collins Foundation that has helped the orchestra raise over $230,000 – $75,000 more than last year’s annual campaign.
Also on the fund-raising front, Chamber Music at St. Peter’s, the Charlotte series that presents 18 free concerts each year and, with the Urban Ministry Center, offers additional events for homeless neighbors, sponsored a March 13 gala featuring key players from the Charlotte and NC Symphonies and raised $36,385 for its ongoing programs. The organization’s concerts are listed in our Western calendar.
The Greensboro Symphony has named star drummer and orchestra leader Michael Berkowitz its Principal POPS Conductor. For details of the Carolina Pops’ 2004-5 season, see [the] series tab. Bruce Kiesling, who has served as acting conductor of the POPS series in the current season, will remain as the GSO’s Resident Conductor and Music Director of the Greensboro Symphony Youth Orchestras.
Clarinetist Bryan A. Crumpler, of Charlotte, a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, has captured first place in the New Amsterdam Symphony (NASO) National Young Artist Competition, held in New York. He is also a semi-finalist in the Ima Hogg National Young Artists Competition, sponsored by the Houston Symphony Orchestra, with the final round to be held in May. He is appearing in Charlotte on April 8 and 30 (see our Western calendar …) and expects to be performing in NC again next season. His website is [inactive 11/05].
NC Symphony Associate Conductor William Henry Curry will make his debut with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on May 11. The non-subscription program will cap a busy spring for our resident Maestro, who has also conducted the Los Angeles Philharmonic (in the new Disney Hall) and the Indianapolis Symphony, where the program included his “Eulogy for a Dream” and the modern premiere of the Overture to Eubie Blake’s musical Shuffle Along, the show some people think kicked off the Harlem Renaissance and which contains the tune “I’m Just Wild About Harry.” Curry is cautiously optimistic that he will be involved in the ongoing resurrection of Shuffle Along .
NC composer and organist Margaret Sandresky will receive the American Guild of Organists’ Distinguished Composer’s Award during the AGO’s national convention in Los Angeles in July. A note on the award is in the April issue of the AGO’s magazine, The American Organist.
We note with sadness the recent deaths of vocalists Marilyn Rogers (d.3/10/04 in Raleigh), long a mainstay of Raleigh’s choral scene, and Annette Daniels (d.3/27/04 in Houston), formerly of NCCU.
The controversial film Taking Sides (108 minutes), which deals with the controversial conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler, has been held over at the Madstone Theater, 770 Cary Towne Boulevard, Cary, through April 8. The film is directed by István Szabó and stars Stellan Skarsgard, Birgitt Minichmayr, Hanns Zieschler, August Zirner, and Armin Rohde. Showtimes are 1:20 p.m., 4:15 p.m., 7:05 p.m., and 9:30 p.m. daily. Prices are $7.50 ($5.50 for afternoon showings) and $5.50 (seniors & children). For more information, call 919/481-4000 or visit [inactive 8/04].
Through April 13, the City of Raleigh Arts Commission (CORAC) is accepting nominations for the Raleigh Medal of Arts. For nomination forms or more information, call 919/857-4372 or visit [inactive 7/05]. The presentation(s) will take place in Fletcher Opera Theater at 7:30 p.m. on June 1, with a reception starting at 6:30 p.m. CORAC is also conducting an arts survey; visit the website provided immediately above and follow the “survey” link. The survey takes about ten minutes to complete.
The Library of Congress has launched a new website, “I Hear America Singing,” which serves as a portal to the Library’s extensive music and performing arts collections. Visit to explore thousands of digitized materials including sheet music, sound recordings, manuscripts, essays, and webcasts from its extensive archives.
The School of Design and Production at the North Carolina School of the Arts has announced that it will add a graduate program in performing arts management in the fall of 2004. In the press release, Dean Joseph Tilford states that the “…new performing arts management program is designed to train the future executive leadership of America’s performing arts organizations” and that the new program “will help fill what many in the profession consider a void in the arts and entertainment industry.” The founding director of the program will be Robert Wildman, former managing director of Connecticut Repertory Theatre. The press release continues, “Students will spend two years in residence at NCSA and a third year in an internship. The program will culminate in a Master of Fine Arts. Graduates of the program will be qualified to pursue a career in either a nonprofit or commercial organization in the theatre, dance or music fields.” For more information, visit [inactive 8/09] or call 336/770-3290.
Compiled & annotated by John W. Lambert