In Memoriam

Curtis is saddened to learn of the passing of those in our Curtis alumni and community family. We offer our sincerest condolences to both loved ones and colleagues.

The tributes below, to those who have passed since spring 2022, barely scratch the surface of the accomplishments, relationships, and influence that made each person unique. We invite you to join us in celebrating their memories through pictures and obituaries.

Please send any additions or corrections to for inclusion here, as well as possible publication in Overtones magazine.


STANLEY DRUCKER (Clarinet ’45), who was a member of the New York Philharmonic for 60 years, passed away on December 19 at age 93. Regarded as the dean of American orchestral clarinetists, Mr. Drucker joined the New York Philharmonic in 1948 at age 19 where he played more than 10,000 performances in 60 countries during his 60-year tenure with the orchestra. In 1960 he was appointed principal clarinet by Leonard Bernstein (Conducting ’41). His career highlights include 191 solo appearances, 64 performances of Copland’s Clarinet Concerto, the first performances of the clarinet concertos by William Bolcom and John Corigliano, and more than a dozen acclaimed recordings. Read more.

NED ROREM (Composition ’44) died November 18 in New York City. He was 99. A faculty member from 1980 to 2001, Mr. Rorem was a prolific author and a composer of hundreds of art songs, along with numerous orchestral and chamber works. In 1993, André Previn, Gary Graffman, and the Curtis Symphony Orchestra gave the world premiere in Philadelphia of Mr. Rorem’s Piano Concerto No. 4 (for left hand). The work was dedicated to Mr. Graffman, whose subsequent performance at Carnegie Hall was described by the New York Times as “electrifying.” Read more.

LAILA STORCH (Oboe ’45), pioneering oboist, author, teacher, baker, and linguist, passed away on December 2 at age 101. She was the first female oboist to graduate from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with internationally renowned oboist Marcel Tabuteau. A trailblazing musician, Professor Storch served as principal oboe of the Houston Symphony Orchestra (1948–55) and the Mozarteum Orchestra in Salzburg (1955–57) and played with the National Symphony, Kansas City Philharmonic, Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, and American Wind Ensemble of Vienna. Read more.

01 - 02 Stanley Drucker (Clarinet ’45)

02 - 02 Ned Rorem (Composition ’44)


BRUCE EICHER (Organ ‘58), who for nearly six decades was the organist and music director of Grace United Methodist Church in Baltimore, died on June 28 at age 90. The cause was congestive heart failure. Mr. Eicher was on faculty at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University and maintained an active solo career. A native of Wayland, Iowa, he studied at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, before transferring to Curtis in 1952, where he studied under Alexander McCurdy. In 1954, during his studies, he was drafted into the Army, but later returned to Philadelphia and earned a bachelor’s degree in 1958. He secured the post at Grace that autumn, and soon began to expand the church’s music activities, with choirs for children and adults, a Sunday afternoon concert series, and 15 annual French organ marathons. Mr. Eicher later earned a master’s degree at Peabody, having taught music theory there since 1969. He retired from Grace in 2013. He is survived by his husband, two children, and extended family.

DONALD MCDONALD (Organ ’50), an organist, teacher, church musician, and dedicated mentor to many, died peacefully in Dallas, Tex. on August 5, at the age of 97. Dr. McDonald started his career as a pre-med student at Southern Methodist University before immediately getting drafted to fight in World War II. Upon his return, he auditioned for Alexander McCurdy, who accepted him as an organ student at Curtis. After graduation, he continued his studies at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he obtained a master’s degree and a doctorate, in 1952 and 1964, respectively. Dr. McDonald served as professor of organ at Westminster Choir College (1952–94) and also taught organ at Union Theological Seminary (1958–66). An active recitalist, Dr. McDonald was the first American to play at the annual

Organ Week in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1963. Dr. McDonal served as the organist and minister of music at Christ Church, United Methodist, in New York City for 30 years.

RON REUBEN (Clarinet ’55), longtime bass clarinetist of The Philadelphia Orchestra, passed away on September 11 at age 90. A native Philadelphian, Mr. Reuben played bass clarinetist for The Philadelphia Orchestra from 1967 to 2015. Prior to entering Curtis as a student of Anthony Gigliotti, he attended Olney High School and Temple University. After graduation, he performed with several jazz bands, including the Stan Kenton Orchestra, before joining the Chicago Little Symphony and the Chamber Symphony of Philadelphia. Read more.

CARLOS VILLA (Violin ’58), renowned Colombian violinist, passed away on June 6 at age 84. Upon graduation from Curtis, at the invitation of a Swiss concert manager, he was invited to travel to Zurich and take private lessons with Yehudi Menuhin. In the late 1960s, Otto Klemperer appointed him concertmaster of London’s New Philharmonia Orchestra, and in 1973, he was appointed conductor-concertmaster of Saltzburg’s Camerata Academica in Austria. Mr. Villa then became artistic director and conductor of Bogota’s Orquesta Filarmónica de Colombia and visiting professor of violin and chamber music at the National Conservatory in 1980. Beginning in 1978, he moved to New York City and became a member of the Brooklyn Philharmonic, The Westchester Philharmonic, and the American Composer’s Orchestra. Read more.


FRANK LEONE (Composition and Piano ’63), a multifaceted musician who rose to the heights of Las Vegas’s entertainment industry, died on September 23 at age 83. The cause was multiple myeloma. A Philadelphia native, Mr. Leone studied at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music before entering Curtis at age 19, where he studied composition with Vittorio Giannini and Nicolas Flagello, and piano with Vladimir Sokoloff (Accompanying ’38). After receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Mr. Leone moved to Las Vegas where he built a six-decade career as a music director, conductor, pianist, composer, and arranger. He was a pianist at the Las Vegas Hilton and Caesars Palace, accompanying such luminaries as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Red Skelton, Carol Channing, Paul Anka, Ike and Tina Turner, B.B. King, and Elvis Presley (with whom he toured and played Hammond organ). Mr. Leone’s television and recording credits were no less star-studded and included performances with Eartha Kitt, Dionne Warwick, Raquel Welch, and Tony Orlando. He served on the board of the Musicians Union of Las Vegas (Local 369) from 1986–1999, becoming its president from 2000–2015. Colleagues described him as a longstanding advocate of musicians’ rights and fair business practices. He was inducted into the Nevada Musicians Hall of Fame in 2019. Mr. Leone is survived by his extended family including his children Anthony and Marianna Dobo.

FREDERICK ORVILLE LEWIS JR. (Composition ’63, ’65), a pianist, composer, and music teacher who was a tireless presence in Philadelphia musical life, died on October 7 at the age of 90. Born in Philadelphia on September 16, 1933, Mr. Lewis received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Curtis and later joined its board of directors. He taught music for four years at the Granoff School of Music, followed by eight years in the Philadelphia School District. His longest affiliation was with the Community College of Philadelphia, where he taught piano, composition, music history, theory, and other courses until retiring in 2009. In his teens, Mr. Lewis was a gifted baseball player whose pitching won him a spot on the farm team of the Philadelphia Athletics (now the Oakland Athletics). But music was his first calling, and while serving in the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s, heplayed in a band that accompanied Bob Hope and other visiting entertainers (he later played keyboards in the Monarchs, a Philadelphia band). After his discharge in 1957, Mr. Lewis married Despina Chletcos, who was his first adult piano teacher (and who taught piano from their Upper Darby, Penn. home). She died in 2016. Mr. Lewis is survived by their three children and six grandchildren.


VINCENT W. BARBEE (Horn ’77) ), a horn player and member of the National Ballet of Canada for 40 years, died on July 28. He was 71 years old. Mr. Barbee was born on May 19, 1952, in Raleigh, N.C. and attended the North Carolina School of the Arts before attending Curtis. After graduating in 1977, Canada’s National Ballet hired him for a national tour, which led to a permanent position. He moved to Toronto, where he was also active as a freelancer. Described by his colleagues as kind and ready with a joke, he enjoyed dining out, cycling, and hiking. Mr. Barbee is survived by his brother, sister-in-law, and extended family.

JAN MARK SLOMAN (Violin ’72), a longtime violinist of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and a revered pedagogue, died on September 27 at age 73. Born in 1949, Mr. Sloman was a university scholar at Princeton University before studying at Curtis with Jaime Laredo, Paul Makanowitzky, and Ivan Galamian. In 1977 he joined the Dallas Symphony as principal associate concertmaster, a post he held until his retirement in 2015. In addition to his position in Dallas, Mr. Sloman also served as guest concertmaster with the Pittsburgh Symphony, and performed with orchestras in Florence, Italy; Lugano and Geneva, Switzerland; and Melbourne, Australia. He leaves an enduring legacy as a teacher, holding posts at Southern Methodist University and the Cleveland Institute of Music, while maintaining a large private studio in Dallas. Mr. Sloman founded the Dallas-based Institute for Strings, an intensive music program with solo and chamber music performance opportunities. He is survived by his wife and two sons. Read more here.


DAVID NIWA (Violin ’87), a former assistant concertmaster of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and a fixture on the Columbus, Ohio music scene, died on September 1. He was 58 and had been battling a rare form of appendix cancer. Mr. Niwa was the artistic director of Sunday at Central, a long-running concert series that brought chamber music to venues throughout the Columbus region, and he taught at Ohio Wesleyan University and Denison University. Born in Chicago, Mr. Niwa received a bachelor’s degree from Curtis before studying at the Juilliard School. He moved to Columbus in 1995 to join the symphony. He is survived by his wife and many other relatives. Read more here.

MICHAELA PAETSCH (Violin ’84), who rose from a large string-playing family to pursue a wide-ranging career as violin soloist, died of cancer on January 20 at age 61. She lived in Bern, Switzerland, for much of the past 30 years. Ms. Paetsch came to Curtis as a student of Szymon Goldberg, with whom she had previously studied at Yale University. In 1985, Ms. Paetsch won the bronze medal at the Queen Elisabeth Competition; the next year, she participated in the International Tchaikovsky Competition. By the late 1980s, her career was increasingly centered in Europe, where she appeared with the Leipzig Gewandhaus, Bergen Philharmonic, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, and BBC Symphony Orchestra. Her recordings included a noted set of Paganini’s 24 Caprices in 1987 and a collection of works by Daron Hagen (Composition ’84) in 2015. Ms. Paetsch was born in Colorado Springs, Colo., the second oldest of seven children, to parents who performed in the Colorado Springs Symphony Orchestra. After teaching their children string instruments, they formed the Paetsch Family Chamber Music Ensemble, which toured the region in the 1970s. Ms. Paetsch is survived by her husband and daughter.

CHARLES WETHERBEE (Violin ’88), a founding member of the Carpe Diem String Quartet and a longtime concertmaster of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, died of cancer on January 9. He was 56 years old. Mr. Wetherbee, who was known as “Chas,” studied at Curtis with the late Aaron Rosand (’48). His orchestral career began when he was appointed principal second violin of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C. Five years later, he moved to Ohio to join the Columbus Symphony as concertmaster, a post he held from 1994 to 2011. An active chamber musician, in 2005, he co-founded the Carpe Diem String Quartet, an ensemble with an eclectic repertoire that includes folk arrangements as well as five volumes of Taneyev string quartets. For the past decade, Mr. Wetherbee lived in Boulder, Colo., where he taught violin at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and served as concertmaster of the Boulder Philharmonic. A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Mr. Wetherbee debuted at age six with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and later appeared internationally with the Japan Philharmonic, Philharmonic Orchestra of Bogota, and Orquesta Sinfónica Nacional de Mexico, among other ensembles. Mr. Wetherbee is survived by his wife and three children. Read more here.


JOHN “JEFF” FREEMAN (Trombone ’91), who built on a passion for music and science to work as an audio engineer for Dolby Laboratories, died on September 12. He was 53. A native of Raleigh, N.C., Mr. Freeman earned a Bachelor of Music degree at Curtis, followed by a Bachelor of Science in physics from North Carolina State University in 1996. He worked briefly as a research assistant at NASA, focusing on lasers and electro-optics, before bringing his love of physics and music to multiple roles at Dolby Laboratories. For the past 22 years he held roles ranging from licensing engineer to, most recently, director of applications engineering and testing. He is survived by his wife, his two children, and extended family.

Curtis Community Members

FRANK BAYLEY, former longtime trustee of Curtis, passed away on Sunday, September 13 at age 83, following a battle with cancer. He had been a part of the Curtis family for the past twenty-five years. Read more.

CHRIS HODGES, Curtis’s longtime director of admissions, passed away on February 12 at age 66. Mr. Hodges joined the Curtis staff in 1995 and was an integral part of the school for 25 years. Read more.

R. ANDERSON “ANDY” PEW, former longtime trustee of Curtis, passed away on June 25 at age 85. The former chairman of the Pew Charitable Trusts, director at the Glenmede Trust Co., executive at Sun Oil Co., and beloved philanthropist, dedicated 11 years (1992–⁠2003) to serving the Curtis community, and will be sorely missed. Read more.