Sunday, October 9, 2016

K. David Van Hoesen memorial service

from yesterday's memorial service for K. David Van Hoesen
Yesterday, October 8, 2016, a memorial service was held for K. David Van Hoesen at the Chapel of Canterbury Place in Pittsburgh.  Mr. Van Hoesen, who had retired as Professor of Bassoon and Chair of the Wind, Brass and Percussion Department of the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, died on Monday at age 90. 

The venue was packed, undoubtedly like his musical performances throughout his life.  Joining the Van Hoesen family (his wife of 66 years, Carol Morse Van Hoesen; his daughter Gretchen S. Van Hoesen and her husband James A. Gorton, his daughter Catherine A. Van Hoesen; and his granddaughter, Heidi Van Hoesen) were many friends and admirers of Mr. Van Hoesen, including many former students (listed alphabetically): Douglas Fisher (Columbus Symphony Second Bassoon), Phillip Kolker (Baltimore Symphony Principal Bassoon, retired), Judith LeClair (NY Philharmonic Principal Bassoon), George Sakakeeny (Eastman School of Music Professor of Bassoon), Martha Scholl (Rochester Philharmonic and Buffalo Philharmonic Bassoon Sections) and Betsy Sturdevant (Columbus Symphony Principal Bassoon).

Betsy Sturdevant, Gretchen Van Hoesen, George Sakakeeny, Douglas Fisher, Judith LeClair, Martha Scholl, Phillip Kolker
There were many other students of Mr. Van Hoesen who wished to attend but couldn't be released from performance duties on such short notice, and several of them had prepared remembrances which were read during the service.

The audience included several members of the Pittsburgh Symphony including Nancy Goeres, David Sogg, Jim Rodgers, Cynthia DeAlmeida, Scott Bell and Chris Allen.  Even the musicians who had not been his students reported that they were incredibly moved by the service.

Family members offered written remembrances in the program which offered great insight into the home and family life of the man who was so loved and revered.  Each of Mr. Van Hoesen's former students in attendance and also former Eastman Professor of Violin Oliver Steiner spoke during the service.  Several meaningful recordings were played, including a delightful rendition of Fritz Kreisler's Schön Rosemarin performed by Mr. Van Hoesen and Judith LeClair with Judy's husband Jonathan Feldman on piano.  We were also treated to a stunning recording of Mr. Van Hoesen performing the Mozart Bassoon Concerto which I don't think any of us had heard before.

There were two live musical performances which Mr. Van Hoesen would have loved: George Sakakeeny and Gretchen Van Hoesen (principal harpist of the Pittsburgh Symphony) played A Chloris by Reynaldo Hahn, and Heidi Van Hoesen (principal harpist of the Toronto Symphony) performed the Andante from Violin Sonata No. 2 in a minor BWV 1003 by J. S. Bach.

Everyone in attendance agreed that the service was beautiful and as well as comprehensive.  Mr. Van Hoesen was a very talented and intelligent man whose fascination and curiosity about such topics as electronics, acoustics, machinery, astronomy, poetry, literature, ham radio, and yes, even bassoon reeds lasted his lifetime.  The service brought out each and every facet of his being.  The remembrances from his students made it became clear that although his musical beliefs and his high standards were consistent, the manner in which he interacted with each of us had varied greatly.  Perhaps that was the secret of his marvelously successful teaching.

Several main themes seemed to be repeated over and over, such as his kind, patient, calm demeanor; his emphasis on beauty of sound and accuracy of intonation; and perhaps most importantly of all, his insistence upon prioritizing musicianship rather than giving in to the encumbrances of the bassoon.  His teaching was so expansive beyond mere bassoon playing that perhaps he would be best described as a life coach.  Each of us left the ceremony inspired to carry on the legacy of this great man.

The Van Hoesen family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Eastman School of Music, 26 Gibbs St., Rochester, NY 14604 (please write "for the K. David Van Hoesen bassoon scholarship" on the memo line of your check) or to Mid-Atlantic English Springer Spaniel Rescue.



Tina B. said...

A beautiful tribute to an incredible man. Thank you for sharing!

Barry Stees said...


Thanks for this post! I'm so glad you could take part and witness the remembrances. thanks for sharing this.