Gertrude Burke, Violist, Arts Patron, & World Traveler

Greensboro, NC: Gertrude Burke, 99, died November 21, 2009, at Friends Homes West in Greensboro, North Carolina.
She was born in Springdale, Connecticut, to Joseph W. Buttrey and Nellie J. McConnell on October 15, 1910, the year of Halley’s Comet, she boasted. She played the viola in orchestras across the nation — from the New York City Opera to Chicago’s Lyric Opera to the San Francisco Opera — when such work for women was rare. She was a member of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in the early 1950s, and she took part in the Moravian music festival in Old Salem. She was a free-lance musician on impresario Sol Hurok’s roster, often playing in the pit for ballet companies such as Covent Garden’s Royal Ballet and the Bolshoi. Among the many conductors she worked under were Leopold Stokowski, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Antal Dorati, James Levine, and pioneer Antonia Brico.
Burke said that her most profound musical experiences were Wagner’s Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, conducted by Herbert von Karajan at the Metropolitan Opera in 1967. Before the 1944 premiere of Aaron Copland’s and choreographer Martha Graham’s ballet Appalachian Spring, she played in the rehearsal orchestra under the composer.
In other landmark 20th-century moments, Burke played for Henry Ford’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration, and her quartet provided music in the living room while Irma Rombauer tested recipes for The Joy of Cooking in the kitchen. Afterwards, they all enjoyed the results of the author’s work!
In 1995, Burke retired and moved to Greensboro, where she was active in the life of Friends Homes West. She attended the Eastern Music Festival religiously and took in the Greensboro Symphony and area chamber music concerts. She kept up her yoga practice and was a lifelong baseball fan. She loved animals and travel. Floating over the African veldt in a hot-air balloon and getting lost on camel-back in an Egyptian dust storm were favorite memories. Albania and China were among recent destinations.
Friends will miss her humor, her courage, and her baking — especially the splendid desserts that followed string quartets and the thousands of gourmet dog biscuits.


George Lam, of Duke, Secures a Composer Assistance Grant
New York, NY, December 3, 2009: The American Music Center (AMC) is pleased to announce grant awards totaling $31,000 to 28 composers through the October 2009 round of the Composer Assistance Program (CAP). The awardees are American composers ranging in age from 24 to 78 residing in 12 states. AMC annually awards grants that assist composers by helping them realize their music in premiere performances. As of the October 2009 round, composers are now able to receive travel assistance to attend the premiere of the awarded work. The grants are intended to help composers take full advantage of performance opportunities that will enhance their careers. This round’s ensembles and organizations premiering or featuring public readings of CAP-supported works include: Ethel, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, Metropolis Ensemble, and Earplay.
“The CAP program aims to help composers who are AMC members at a critical point in their careers. The range of styles of these composers’ work, the geographical breadth of their locations, and the quality of performing ensembles performing these new works demonstrates the vibrancy of new music performance our members are engaged in,” said Joanne Hubbard Cossa, Chief Executive Officer of the American Music Center.
Since 1962, the Composer Assistance Program has provided over $2 million in support to American composers. Over 1,420 composers have received a CAP award at some point in their career, including Gordon Beeferman, Eve Beglarian, David Del Tredici, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Steve Reich. Composers must be members of the American Music Center to apply for an award. The Composer Assistance Program has been endowed by The Helen F. Whitaker Fund and The Aaron Copland Fund for Music. Current funding for CAP is provided by the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, The Edward T. Cone Foundation and the Reed Foundation.
The awardees include George Lam, Durham, NC, whose composition The Queen’s Gramophone will be performed by the Hong Kong Sinfonietta. He is the only recipient based south of the Washington metropolitan area.
(With thanks to the American Music Center for this PR.)


UNCG Librarian Mac Nelson Has Won the 2010 Walter Gerboth Award from Music Library Association
Greensboro, NC: UNCG Librarian Mac Nelson has won the 2010 Walter Gerboth Award from Music Library Association. The award is made to members of MLA who are in the first five years of their professional library careers, to assist research-in-progress in music or music librarianship. This award will enable Nelson to travel to the home of the eminent cellist Laszlo Varga, where he will spend three days recording interviews for use in his research project, “The Varga Legacy: An Oral History.” Varga is one of the two living donors to UNCG’s Cello Music Collection (Bernard Greenhouse is the other) and is one of the most distinguished cellists of the 20th (and 21st) centuries: in addition to having an international reputation as a performer and recording artist, Varga served as principal cellist of the New York Philharmonic under Dimitri Mitropoulis and Leonard Bernstein. His life and art were celebrated here at UNCG February 16-18, 2007; the “Varga Celebration,” which was jointly sponsored by the UNCG School of Music and the University Libraries. The Gerboth Award was founded in 1984 in honor of Walter Gerboth, librarian, teacher and mentor, a leader in the Music Library Association, and a pathmaker in music librarianship.
(With thanks to the Friends of the UNCG Libraries for this announcement.)
UNC Asheville Chamber Singers to Perform at White House December 17
Asheville, NC: While most college students are enjoying winter break and unwinding from final exams, some 25 UNC Asheville student singers are traveling to the performance of a lifetime. UNC Asheville’s Chamber Singers, the university’s premiere student voice ensemble, has been invited to perform at the White House on December 17. The group will sing for VIP tours at the Holiday Open House. The choir will perform under the direction of Melodie Galloway, UNC Asheville assistant professor of music. It is the third consecutive year that the UNC Asheville group has been invited to perform.
In addition to the performance at the White House, the Chamber Singers will also sing for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Memorial Hospital on December 16.
Student choir members are Keller Berry of Whittier; Case Boehm of Charlotte; Molly Burch of Wilmington; John Coggin of Asheboro; Jonathan Crepeau of Wilmington; Anna Deierlein of Blythewood, S.C.; Joshua Doub of Vale; Keith Fletcher of Yadkinville; Kylee Frye of Supply; Benjamin Hinman of Asheville; Jared Hooker of Candler; Herlie Huff of Lake Toxaway; Emma Hutchens of Yadkinville; Megan Kazmierski of Nebo; Keisuke Koyasu of Japan; Tobin Kvalvik of Asheville; Jaqueline Lowe of Durham; Joshua McDaniel of Shippensburg, Pa.; Millie Palmer of Asheville; Anna Roberto of Morganton; Sarah Sanders of Morganton; David Waters of Greensboro and Allison Weinstock of Chapel Hill.
(With thanks to the UNC Asheville News Services for this announcement.)