Robert C. Christesen R.I.P.

We note with sadness the Oct. 12 death of Robert C. Christesen, distinguished baritone, teacher, and administrator. His career as a professional singer took him from the Manhattan School of Music to a 13-year run in Frankfurt and Dortmund with numerous guest engagements along the way. From the mid-’80s he served the Wake County Public Schools, retiring as vice principal of West Cary Middle School in 2009.

The obit is here.

A memorial gathering to celebrate his life will be held on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 6:00 p.m. at Mitchell Funeral Home, 7209 Glenwood Ave., Raleigh.

We join his many colleagues, students, and friends throughout the world in mourning his loss as we extend deepest sympathies to his family.

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Pianist James Fogle Pays a Return Visit to the Triangle

Pianist James Fogle, a mainstay of the keyboard department at Meredith for longer than he may wish to recall, lives in Florida now, where he is failing retirement because he is involved in so many different projects. But he was back in town recently for a visit and to present two programs at his old school. The first of these, given in Jones Chapel on the afternoon of the 11th, was dubbed “September 11, 2001: A Meditation.” It was the sort of program that, like weddings and funerals, didn’t lend itself to review. The music was by Mohammed Fairouz, Bach, Debussy, Phil Kline, Robert Ward, William Bolcom, Horace Parlan, and Eve Beglarian. The somber affair, devoid of applause, was just what some of us needed on the 15th anniversary of those attacks on our nation, and the fine program notes set all the music in well-nigh perfect contexts.

His second program, offered in Carswell Concert Hall on the evening of the 13th, was a lecture-recital titled “Impaired and Enabled: Music and Disability.” It featured ten pieces by seven composers who suffered various physical, mental, and/or developmental issues, interspersed with extensive commentary by the presenting artist. The spark for this program was “a remarkable concert” Fogle heard a while back, “put on by the Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss [at which] all the pieces performed … were composed by people with varying degrees and types of hearing loss and also performed by musicians with hearing impairments.”

This presentation didn’t really lend itself to review, either, but the lecture was so remarkable we felt it important to preserve it in some way, so with Fogle’s gracious consent and cooperation, we are pleased to be able to do so. Alas, we don’t have his pianistic illustrations, but with thanks to the resource that is YouTube we have nearly everything covered. To read the talk and hear the examples, click here.

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RIP Hiram Black, Long-time NCS Manager – with Memorial Plans

We seem to be in a very sad patch of late. Word has reached us of the death yesterday (9/2) of Hiram Black, 85, an operations manager (and much, much more) for the NC Symphony whose service began in the late Swalin era, long before the orchestra relocated from cramped quarters in Chapel Hill to then-expansive digs in the basement of Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium. There’s a memorial page on Facebook, and more information will be shared here as it becomes available. Meanwhile our sympathies go out to Hiram’s family and his numerous friends in the NCS and the greater music community.

Funeral services in Matthews, on 9/10, will be private. The family advises that a memorial service in the Raleigh area will be held later with details t.b.a.*

The formal obit is here.

*The NCS has announced that the November 11, 2016, “Friday Favorites” performance will be dedicated to Hiram’s memory. The orchestra writes: “We are coordinating arrangements with Hiram’s daughters and will be communicating this occasion to local and statewide audiences and friends who may wish to join us for the concert and a post-concert reception.” Info on the event itself is here.

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RIP RTOOT Maestro Sandy Hobgood – with Link to Homily

CHAPEL HILL – W. Sands Hobgood died in an accident August 27 near Brevard, N.C. Sandy will be remembered by many for his love of people and the arts.

A native of Oklahoma, Sandy was schooled in Durham and Greensboro public schools where he developed his flair for theater and his musical talent. As a teenager, he played in a combo on Saturday nights and at the church organ on Sunday mornings, a pattern that he followed all his life. He was driven to connect people through music and laughter, hosting many a party, conducting church choirs, and playing the organ on his many travels.

He earned degrees in mathematics and information science at UNC Chapel Hill and was an avid fan of Tar Heel basketball and the Durham Bulls. He had an award-winning, 30-year career with IBM in research, development and systems architecture in New York, North Carolina and England. Sandy was also one of the original architects of ARPANET, which led to the creation of the Internet. He served for a year as an IBM scientist-in-residence at Bacone College, a school with strong ties to the Cherokee Nation, of which Sandy was an enrolled member.

Sandy took early retirement to begin a second career as church musician and community music impresario. He served congregations in Chapel Hill and Durham, was guest conductor for Chapel Hill’s Messiah Sing-Along, and founded the Really Terrible Orchestra of the Triangle (RTOOT) in 2008. RTOOT is home base for 50-odd amateur musicians who quite enjoy the experience of community music.

Sandy was the son of the late W.S.H. and Marjorie W. Hobgood and was also predeceased by his brother, J. Wingate Hobgood. He is survived by son Ted Hobgood, daughter Elisabeth Allore, granddaughters Amelia Allore, Grace Allore, and Ava Allore, sister and brother-in-law Margaret and Wayne Martin and nephews Thomas Martin and Joseph Martin.

A service of remembrance [was] held at Chapel of the Cross, Chapel Hill, on Sept. 8 at 3:00 p.m., followed by a reception. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to or to the church or community music program of your choice.

(Reprinted from Triad Cremation Society and Chapel.)


The homily was delivered by Rev. Grace G. Hackney. To read it and see additional details of the service, click here.


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RIP PRC Publicist Connie Mahan – Updated 10/10

Tragic news from UNC:

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we share with you the news that Connie Mahan, the Associate Director of Communications at PlayMakers Repertory Company, lost her life in an automobile accident on Thursday night (8/25). PRC was blessed to have such a passionate and talented communications professional at the helm of our marketing and public relations department for the past nine years. She was a tireless and dedicated advocate for the value and success of PlayMakers, the Department for Dramatic Arts, and for the University of North Carolina. She was also a dear friend and colleague to many at PRC as well as across the Triangle and Triad.”

The announcement continues, “Her absence will be felt in our offices for a very long time. Our hearts go out to her sister Christine, friends, family and loved ones.

“Further details on services and ways to celebrate Connie’s life and legacy will be forthcoming.”


A private memorial service will be held at Playmakers Rep in late October. There will be no formal obit.


Alas, ’twas booze, according to the N&O. The report is here. That article notwithstanding, no one at PRC has told us the memorial observation is not a private event.

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Horst Meyer, Long-time Mainstay of Chamber Music in Durham

We regret to convey news of the death of J. Horst Meyer, a physicist, music lover, and gardening enthusiast whose diverse interests and pursuits in Durham and beyond enriched the lives of all he touched. The obit is here.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Sarah P. Duke Gardens, to its “General Maintenance Fund.” To donate online, click here.

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A Great Critic Writes about a Great Critic

One of America’s leading critics writes with evident affection about one of the greatest critics in our entire cultural history: Anthony Tommasini reviews a volume of criticism by Virgil Thomson. Read the article here. (Thomson is the guy who was [allegedly] caught napping during a concert led by Toscanini. Challenged about it, he stated that he invariably woke up if anything interesting happened.)

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Forget Beantown. Even New York?! If the Coverage Matters, Please SUPPORT IT

Two more critics have been let go in the cradle of American culture. If what CVNC is doing in NC matters to YOU, now’s the time to support it. To do so, click here.

Our fiscal year ends Thursday, and we really need your help!

But meanwhile, read about the latest losses in the Big Apple here.

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