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This story by Nicole Plett was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper
on April 22, 1998. All rights reserved.
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 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."
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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