Dr. Nancy Jean Cahen Knopka, 83, a bassoonist and contrabassoonist, died last Aug. 18, 2010. She had joined Local 802 in 1959.
Dr. Knopka trained with the National Orchestral Association from 1945 to 1951 under music director Leon Barzin and was the principal bassoonist for the Havana (Cuba) Philharmonic Orchestra from 1957 to 1958. In the 1980’s, she played with the Brooklyn Heights Orchestra (now the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra) and in recent years with several community bands on Long Island, including the North Shore Pops Band.
In addition to being a musician, Dr. Knopka taught Spanish language and literature for 30 years at Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University, and later at Rutgers University. She was a founding member of the Cervantes Society of America, which studies the work of Miguel Cervantes.
She is survived by her niece Judith Sokolow, nephews Jeffrey Sokolow and Jonathan Sokolow, four grandnieces and one grandnephew.
Steve Lipkins, 93, a trumpeter and an 802 member since 1935, died on Jan. 29.
Mr. Lipkins played in the big bands of Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Artie Shaw, Glenn Miller, Bunny Berigan and Will Bradley, including many recordings from the 1930’s to the 60’s. He recorded just one record date as a leader under the name “Stevie Layne and his Orchestra.”
Mr. Lipkins was on staff at NBC in the early days of television and played Sid Caesar’s Show of Shows, the Steve Allen Show and the Tonight Show with Jack Paar.
He played in the orchestra on many Broadway shows including “Kiss Me Kate,” “Once Upon a Mattress” and “Fiorello.” He also played club dates with Tony Bennett, Johnny Mathis and Perry Como.
In the 1970’s, Steve pursued a different career as a master stone craftsman. But he always saw himself as a musician and cherished the memories he had gathered from over 30 years in the business.
He is survived by his wife Ruth and sons Jonathan and Robert.
Joe Morello, 82, the jazz drummer, died on March 12. He had been a Local 802 member since 1953.
Raised in Springfield, Mass., with impaired vision from birth, Mr. Morello initially studied the violin before becoming a drummer in his teen years.
He eventually made his way to New York City, where he played with many leading jazz musicians over the years, and first came to prominence for his work as part of pianist Marian McPartland’s Hickory House Trio in the early ‘50s.
In 1956, Mr. Morello turned down offers to join the Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey bands to go on a tour with Dave Brubeck’s quartet. He ended up staying with Brubeck for 12 years.
Mr. Morello was with the quartet on its 1958 State Department-sponsored tour that took the group to 14 countries, including Poland, India, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq. That tour inspired Brubeck to explore unusual time signatures on the 1959 album “Time Out,” which became the first jazz album to sell more than 1 million copies.
After Brubeck disbanded the quartet in late 1967 to focus on composing extended orchestral and choral works, Mr. Morello turned to teaching and writing instructional books while making occasional guest solo appearances and performing with his own group in the New York area. His discography includes more than 120 albums.
Mr. Morello is survived by his wife Jean.
Obituary from the AP.
Howard A. Roberts
Howard A. Roberts, 86, a trumpeter, conductor, composer, teacher, arranger, actor and singer, died on March 10. He had joined Local 802 in 1957.
Mr. Roberts’s wide-ranging career of almost seven decades included concerts, theatre, recordings and television as a musical director, singer, instrumentalist and academic. Early performing experiences included playing trumpet in the bands of Lionel Hampton and Lucky Millinder, and as both trumpet player and musical director for Cab Calloway. He was musical director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre and the Donald McKayle Dance companies and enjoyed a long collaboration as musical director for Harry Belafonte. As an actor and singer, he created the role of Robbins in the 1952 international company of “Porgy and Bess.” He made history as the first African-American tenor soloist for the Robert Shaw Chorale.
On Broadway, Mr. Roberts was musical director and conductor for the Tony Award-winning musical “Raisin” among many others.
He received a composers’ grant from the National Endowment for the Artists for his cantata, “Long Remembrance,” which was based on the reminiscences of former slaves and commissioned by Hampton Institute.
Mr. Roberts served as associate professor of music at Manhattan Community College and elsewhere.
He is survived by his daughter and son-in law Kim Roberts Hedgpeth and Gilbert W. Hedgpeth; son and daughter-in-law Brian and Karen Roberts; grandson Marcus Theodore; granddaughter Amanda Marie; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
The talents, accomplishments and awards of Howard Roberts are much too numerous to condense into this short space. For more information, e-mail Mr. Roberts’s daughter Kim Roberts Hedgpeth at Kimadele528@aol.com.
Eleanor Schiller, 68, a violinist and an 802 member since 1963, died on Feb. 18.
Ms. Schiller graduated from Manhattan School of Music, where she earned master’s degrees in violin performance and music education. She subsequently taught strings in the Teaneck (New Jersey) public schools for 21 years.
Ms. Schiller was an extremely active freelance musician who performed in many orchestras and chamber music groups including the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players, the Saint Cecilia Orchestra, the National Grand Opera and the American Symphony orchestra.
In addition to extensive private teaching in her home, she also taught at the Dwight Englewood School and Ridgewood Encore Music Studios.
Ms. Schiller and her husband, Allan, were the founding members of the Schiller Quartet. In addition to her husband, she is survived by her daughters Jacqueline Schiller Audi and Laura Schiller Davis, and grandchildren Benjamin, Ariella, Leora and Melanie.
Hy White, 95, a guitarist and writer, died on Feb. 28. He had been a member of Local 802 since 1938.
His career took off when he joined Woody Herman’s first orchestra, which became known as the “Band that Plays the Blues.” Mr. White was featured on “River Bed Blues,” one of many songs he wrote.
He later joined Les Brown’s band and played behind Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and others.
Mr. White played in the orchestra of the Bob Smith Show and the Steve Allen daytime show and ended up performing for 15 years in Ray Block’s orchestra on the Ed Sullivan Show. He also played on the Gary Moore Show, Candid Camera and a few Jackie Gleason shows.
In the 1950’s, Mr. White began a teaching career; Paul Simon, Carly Simon and Bobby Mann were some of his many students. He also wrote a series of very popular guitar method books.
Even after he retired in his 90’s, Mr. White would perform in many retirement homes where he was often older than many in the audience.
Hy is survived by his sons Ken and Alan, their wives Ruchana and Angela, his grandchildren Nicole, Daniel, Erika, Evan and Andy and his great-granddaughter Brilynn.
We also remember . . .
Joe Aguanno, trumpet
Mimi Caputo, trumpet
Peter Cofield, piano
Bobby Hebb, guitar
John W. Marshall, saxophone
Minna Miller, violin
David Shapiro, bass
Bud H. Shiffman, saxophone
Jerry Solomon, piano
William E. Triglia, piano