Students, faculty, and staff of the Eastman School of Music will commemorate the life of hornist Gretchen Snedeker, a graduate student who died in a car crash earlier this month, with a concert that will include recordings of some of her own performances.
The memorial event, at 12:30 p.m. Monday, May 5, will be held in the School’s Kilbourn Hall. In respect to Gretchen’s belief in the sanctity of music and the intrinsic importance of silence within and surrounding the music, the concert will not include any speeches or recitations. Attendees are requested to enter and leave the hall in silence.
The memorial concert will include recordings from Gretchen’s performance in Eastman’s “Women in Music Festival” just three weeks before her death and from her degree recital in January. The Eastman Horn Choir and Tuba Mirum will perform, as will several of her student colleagues and Paul O’Dette, professor of lute, and W. Peter Kurau, associate professor of horn.
Gretchen, 24, was beloved and respected by teachers, students, and colleagues, who have praised her artistry, her passion and dedication to music, and her warmth and enthusiasm.
“Gretchen was the model student: talented, industrious, tenacious, responsible, motivated, disciplined, curious, entrepreneurial, eclectic, respectful, mature, professional,” said Kurau. “Not surprisingly, she had already achieved success in the professional world with her appointments at Colgate University and the Utica Symphony, her staff position at Kendall Betts Horn Camp, and her work as a substitute hornist with the Buffalo Philharmonic and Rochester Philharmonic. She was on the cusp of a substantial and distinguished professional career. All of us who had the pleasure of her encounter and collaboration were all the richer, and are now all the poorer with her senseless passing.”
Growing up 35 miles away in Newark, Gretchen started playing the French horn in fifth grade. She traveled to Rochester to perform with the Hochstein Youth Symphony Orchestra and take private lessons in Eastman’s Community Education Division (CED), now named Eastman Community Music School. Gretchen also won the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra’s Eisenhart Award for wind performance in 2000.
After graduating from Newark High School, Gretchen studied at the Eastman School of Music and received her Bachelor of Music degree and Performer’s Certificate in horn in 2005. She enrolled at the University of New Hampshire but returned to the area when she was offered a teaching position at Colgate University and principal horn positions at the Utica and Catskill Symphony Orchestras. At the same time, Gretchen returned to Eastman to complete her master’s degree, which will be awarded posthumously on Sunday, May 18, during the School’s Commencement ceremonies. As a soloist, she appeared on Live from Hochstein on WXXI-FM and with the Finger Lakes and Greece Symphony Orchestras. She was planning a career in solo performance and collegiate education.
While an undergraduate student at Eastman, Gretchen was a member of Musica Nova and Ossia new music ensembles. She performed with the Eastman Wind Ensemble and joined the group for its 2004 Asian tour and its Carnegie Hall tour in 2005. An avid supporter of contemporary music, she participated in several world premiere performances and worked with Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Corigliano at the 2003 “June in Buffalo” festival.
Gretchen died on Thursday, April 10, when her car was hit on Route 46 in Oneida, Madison County, while she was on her way to teach at Colgate University. She is survived by her parents, John and Kathleen Snedeker of Baldwinsville; her fiancé, Andrew Smith of Liverpool; and her maternal grandparents, Terry and Joan Kraus of Howlett Hill.
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