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This story by Nicole Plett was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper

on April 22, 1998. All rights reserved.

Winslow’s Work

Princeton composer Walter Winslow, featured in a 1996

U.S. 1 article by Elaine Strauss, died of cancer at age 50 on February

12. Winslow’s 1995 work, "A Voice from Elysium," will be given

its Princeton premiere by the New York Camerata at Trinity Church

on Sunday, April 26, at 4:30 p.m.

Born and raised in Oregon, Winslow began composing at age 8. One of

four musical children of musical parents, he began performing four-hand

piano programs with his brother in his early 20s. At Oberlin College

he graduated suma cum laude in musical composition and Russian, and

he went on to earn his Ph.D at University of California at Berkeley

in 1975.

In his work he drew on a variety of ethnic sources: Hawaiian, Tahitian,

and Italian. He published more than 30 pieces, beginning with a string

quartet he composed at 19. He has been a faculty member at Berkeley,

Reed College, and Columbia.

In 1990 he moved to Princeton and became an adjunct faculty member

who taught piano at the Lawrenceville School and was also accompanist

to its large choral group, the Lawrenceville Singers. Margaret Anne

Butterfield, director of the vocal program, who worked closely with

Winslow, says that until his illness forced him to resign early last

November, he accompanied every weekly rehearsal.

This year’s choral project is a performance of the Mozart requiem

on May 19. Rehearsals began in September with the "Lacrimosa"

movement, which the chorus performed on Parents’ Day, accompanied

by Winslow, in October, 1997.

"When the students found out that he was ill and that he was resigning,

the first thing they wanted to do was to go and sing for him,"

says Butterfield. "When I told them this did not sound practical,

we decided to make him a tape. We recorded two movements of the Mozart,

including the `Lacrimosa,’ and one of our students who is a computer

whiz put it on a CD for him. We took it to him accompanied by a huge

card signed by the entire chorus."

At a memorial service at the Lawrenceville School chapel on February

21, Winslow’s companion Patricia Fortini Brown, a Princeton University

art historian, brought the students’ card to the service.

"These kids were very much a part of Walter’s life, and he was

a part of theirs, too, so there’s a big hole there," says Butterfield.

She adds that a madrigal in four parts, "La Luna e Piena,"

which he wrote as a gift for Brown when the couple was in Rome, is

presently part of the girls’ ensemble repertoire.

Butterfield herself will record a group of songs he wrote in 1995,

"Six Paripari," based on Tahitian texts for voice and piano.

A practical and self-effacing man, she says Winslow planned his memorial

service. "One thing I really admired was that not once during

his long fight with cancer did Walter show he was feeling sorry for

himself. He put other people’s feelings first. Not that he didn’t

fight, because he did fight — and he outlived every prediction

the doctors gave."

For the U.S. 1 article on May 29, 1996, when his "Orpheus of the

Winds" was to be performed on a Composers Guild of New Jersey

program at the New Jersey State Planetarium, he told Strauss he still

cherished the dream of obtaining a commission to write an opera, but

that his hopes for the future were simple: "I just want to keep

writing and getting performed."

New York Camerata, Trinity Church, 33 Mercer Street,

609-924-2277. Dedicated to the late composer Walter Winslow. $15;

$10 seniors & students. Sunday, April 26, 4:30 p.m.

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