To burn always with this hard, gem-like flame,
to maintain this ecstasy, is success in life.
I recently learned of the death of my friend, Ted Ashizawa. I had known him for many years since moving to Batavia in 1974. I got to know Ted through the Genesee Chorale which he founded as well as conducted for many years. I also played with him in the Batavia Recorder Society which met monthly. We played ancient and Renaissance music for recorder and other instruments such as the rackett, shaum, crumhorn and drums.
Music had always held a special place in my mind and emotions. My grandmother was a traveling piano teacher in Attica NY and played for our family when I was quite young. One of the high points of my teen years was seeing The Sound of Music on stage during my first visit to New York. Later I had the privilege of singing in a choir for Pope Paul VI’s Mass in Yankee stadium.
When I learned about the Genesee Chorale I immediately signed up. Unfortunately I became quite busy with my career and family obligations and only sang with the Choral for one season. That year we sang the complex Brahms’ Requiem and Faure’s much simpler but still elegant Requiem.
Ted eventually retired from conducting the Chorale but did return for one anniversary season to conduct Mozart’s Requiem and the Ave Verum. Before the concert, Ted told us that if we moved one person with our music, the concert would be a success. I was moved and know of many others who were moved as well.
As it happened, the Chorale had a concert scheduled the day I attended a memorial gathering in Ted’s honor. Before the concert, a slide show was presented showing the highlights of Ted’s life. During the slide show, there played a recording of the Chorale’s performance of the Ave Verum which I had the privilege to sing with the Chorale under Ted’s direction. The Ave Verum, a beautiful, serene motet by Mozart has become one of my favorite musical memories.
What I most remember about Ted was the ecstasy evident on his face when he conducted the beautiful music he somehow drew from our voices. Ted had this same expression when he listened to music, sang, played the recorder or conducted the Chorale. He had a strong interest in many aspects of life and always made a lively contribution to any discussion.
I am proud to say I knew him as a friend and will always cherish the interactions I had with him on many levels. He will always be in my heart where my musical memories reside. He touched my life in many ways and I will be forever grateful for this.
Life Lab Lessons
What music has stayed with you for many years?
What does it mean to you?
Savor its peace, joy and comfort.
Cherish the music which has brought you to appreciate life.
Cherish the friendships which music made fonder.