The death on December 14 of Ben Ward, a wonderful pianist, passionate music lover, and vital role model for others, and who lived a truly remarkable life, has sadden his many admirers and friends across the Duke campus and beyond. Tributes to his life and work have begun to appear, including this one, in Duke Today, published December 16.
We often say how unfortunate it is we can’t read obits before people pass away, for we often learn so much from them that we hadn’t previously known. In Ben’s case (and I call him by his given name because I considered him a friend as well as a colleague), we knew some of the amazing things he’d seen and done, thanks to several articles, including one that appeared in the Duke Today in August, linked here.
As noted in the first article, above, “A service of remembrance is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18, in Duke Chapel,” and “Written messages and pictures can be posted to www.benwardtribute.com.”
I feel compelled to add a personal note, for Ben was important to all of us who work in the arts, and he was particularly kind to me and, I suspect, to many other critics, some of whom, long gone, may now be welcoming him to the promised land (if reviewers are permitted entry there…). Ben was always the final go-to person for musical questions about concerts at Duke, if all else failed. It was he who could (and graciously would) ID unannounced encores (for example), always with 100% accuracy. I’m not quite sure how we will be able to carry on without him.
RIP, dear friend. You will be missed.