Tributes

Michael Levin

Michael Levin line

On May 7, 2009, Glimmerglass lost its concertmaster of 22 years, Michael Levin, of complications after surgery. Mr. Levin joined the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in the same year he came to Glimmerglass,1987. Prior to that, he had been Assistant Concertmaster of the North Carolina Symphony and had participated in many summer festivals as both an orchestral and a chamber musician, including the New Hampshire Music Festival, the Skaneateles Festival and the Eastern Music Festival. He collaborated over his career with many artists, among whom were Leonard Rose and Jeffrey Solow, and was an active recitalist and chamber musician in the New York area.

He was a graduate of the New England Conservatory, where he worked extensively with composer Gunther Schuller and violinist Rudolf Kolisch, founder of the Kolisch Quartet, the group which premiered Bartok's Fifth and Sixth String Quartets.
Michael had a great love for both animals and the outdoors. One of his favorite things to do after a matinee performance on a hot day was to swim the two miles across Lake Otsego and back, solo. As a college student, he had participated one summer in the Outward Bound program in the San Juan mountains of Colorado, where he learned to rappel off mountains and to ford streams. This experience affected him profoundly and was one he never forgot.

He is survived by his mother Jeanne and sister Cynthia, who is producing artistic director of the Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City, MO, as well as by his wife Christine Ims, Principal Violist of Glimmerglass Opera.

 

CEngland

Charles W. Englandline

Glimmerglass Opera's Principal Tubaist, Charles W. "Chuck" England, passed away on January 11, 2009. He had been the tubaist for the orchestra since the company began in 1975, and will be sorely missed by all who knew him. A giant of a man with a heart to match, he had a profound and positive impact on the hundreds of students he taught over the course of his career, as well as on his colleagues in the many musical groups with which he played.

A native of Iowa, Chuck spent his undergraduate years at the University of Illinois and at Augustana College, in Rock Island, Illinois. He began studies as a chemistry/pre-law major, but later switched to music education, with a tuba major and a voice minor, graduating in 1967. After a 3-year tour of duty in the United States Army Band ('Pershing's Own') in Washington, D.C., he began graduate studies at Yale University, earning a Master of Music degree in Performance and Pedagogy in 1973. Always one to acknowledge his teachers, Chuck had the opportunity to study with several of the outstanding tubaists of the 20th century, stretching all the way back to the legendary William (Bill) Bell, who had begun his career with the Sousa Band and ended it with the New York Philharmonic.

Chuck married fellow Iowan Janet Gowing in 1974, and the couple moved to Oneonta, N.Y., to allow him to join the Catskill Symphony Orchestra and the newly-formed Catskill Conservatory, where he became a founding member of the Catskill Brass Quintet, along with his one of his college housemates, trumpeter Ben Aldridge, and the three already-existing members of the group, trumpeter Carleton Clay, horn player Julia Hasbrouck Clay and trombonist Donald Robertson, Jr. This group remained intact with the same five players until soon before Chuck's death. He also worked extensively as a free-lance musician throughout the Central New York-Northern Pennsylvania area, and held regular positions not only with the Glimmerglass and Catskill Orchestras, but also with the Northeast Philharmonic, in Scranton, Pennsylvania and the Utica Symphony Orchestra. Through the course of his career he also played with the Aspen Music Festival Orchestra, the New Jersey and Chautauqua Symphonies and with Barnum and Bailey's Circus Band. As a teacher, he was engaged at such institutions as Hartwick College, SUNY-Binghamton and Colgate University, and he was director of the brass choir at Hamilton College, in Clinton, New York, from 1978-2000.

From 1994-2000 Chuck taught instrumental music at Delaware Academy in Delhi, N.Y. (along with GOT principal bassist David Irvin), and from 2001 until his death he taught elementary instrumental music in the Oneonta City Schools, alongside another GOT colleague, violist Megan Newman Dyer. He had a true gift for teaching and loved all his students and colleagues at the schools where he taught. After learning of his illness, in late summer of 2008, and after having been forced to relinquish his teaching, he mentioned to his colleague, Megan, that is he could leave his students with just one message, it would be for them to "be good to each other."

At Glimmerglass, Chuck not only played tuba in the orchestra pit, but he also used his years of vocal training to good advantage when he appeared onstage in the chorus for the company's production of Manon Lescaut in 1981. In addition he was elected to serve on the Orchestra Committee, a duty he fulfilled with distinction. His fellow orchestra members held him in high esteem for his wisdom, intelligence and musicianship. The company's founding Music Director, Charles Schneider made the following remarks (excerpted) at Chuck's funeral: "Chuck was the consummate professional in every regard - both as a performer and as a superb educator. It's been my experience as a Music Director that the best players are always better prepared than the others and that, no matter how well they play, they are never satisfied. Therein lies the successful art of musicmaking. He was one of the real leaders in the orchestra, and set the very highest standard of performance as the anchor on the bottom of the brass section! And he was loved by everybody!" Upon hearing of Chuck's death, Schneider's successor, Stewart Robertson, echoed those sentiments succinctly when he wrote that he was "a real gentleman and a first-rate musician."

In addition to his wife, Janet, Chuck is survived by the couple's two children, Eli and Valerie. He will be buried in the summer of 2009 in Shenandoah, Iowa. His death leaves a great void in our orchestra and in our hearts.