Nunc Dimittis

August 31, 2010

Margaret T. “Meg” Flowers died April 30, at the age of 71, in Houston. She earned a BA from Vassar College in 1960, and MMus and DMA degrees from Shepherd School of Music, Rice University, in 1990 and 2004. She served as organist, choirmaster, and music director at several Episcopal parishes in Houston, and at Salem Evangelical Lutheran Church, retiring in January 2010. She held memberships in the Association of Anglican Musicians and the AGO, and served as dean of the Houston AGO chapter and chair of the Diocesan Music Commission. Meg Flowers is survived by her husband, David C. Flowers, three daughters and their husbands, Jennifer and Lyman Paden, Rebecca and Brian Oxley, and Elizabeth and Michael Murray, stepdaughters Kay Flowers and Karen Stephen and her husband Denny, sister Frances Pearson, brothers Bill and Walker Taylor, and five grandchildren.

Yvonne Loriod died May 17 in Saint-Denis, France, at the age of 86. The French pianist was for three decades the wife of Olivier Messiaen, and the chief interpreter of his piano works, as well as a champion of the piano works of Pierre Boulez, Jean Barraqué, André Jolivet, and Arnold Schoenberg. A student at the Paris Conservatoire, Loriod had learned the major piano repertoire by the age of 14. At the Conservatoire, she studied piano with Lazare-Lévy, and harmony with André Bloch; when the Nazis deported them during the French occupation, Loriod resumed piano study with Marcel Ciampi and harmony with Messiaen, who had recently returned from a prison camp. Messiaen wrote the two-piano work Visions de l’Amen with Loriod in mind.
As a concert pianist, she was known for her performances of contemporary repertoire. After teaching at the Staat-
liche Hochschule für Musik in Karlsruhe, she was appointed piano professor at the Paris Conservatoire in 1967, where she taught for a quarter of a century. Loriod married Messiaen in 1961; she served as his proofreader, musical assistant, manager, and interpreter until his death in 1992. Yvonne Loriod is survived by her sister Jacqueline and her stepson Pascal.

Kathleen Funk Pearson, age 93, died March 22 in Fort Myers, Florida. Born in Philadelphia, she graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory, and did graduate study at the Eastman School of Music, where she was a student of Harold Gleason. She joined the music department at Vassar College and served as assistant college organist and Vassar College Choir accompanist there, and from 1957–1988 as chapel organist. She also served as organist at the First Presbyterian Church, and as organist and choir director at Christ Episcopal Church in Poughkeepsie. A visiting professor at SUNY–New Paltz, she was chapel organist for the Harvard Divinity School, and for twelve years organist for the Danforth Foundation summer conferences.
With her husband, Donald M. Pearson, she co-founded the Central Hudson Valley AGO chapter, for which she served as dean, and which recognized her in 2008 for her lifelong contribution and dedication to promoting excellence in organ performance and choral music. They moved to Florida in 1988, where she served St. John’s Episcopal Church in Naples, Covenant Presbyterian Church in Fort Myers, Sanibel Congregational Church, and Chapel of the Sea on Captiva Island, and founded the 65-voice Shell Point Singers. Following Donald Pearson’s death in 2004, she created an organ recital fund in his memory, for performances at Vassar College; the fund has now been renamed the Donald and Kathleen Pearson Organ Recital Fund.

William Louis Shepard died July 15. For the last six years he held the position of organist and choirmaster at the First United Methodist Church in Park Ridge, Illinois. He earned his master’s degree in church music from Northwestern University and his bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College. Shepard taught piano, organ, and voice in academic settings as well as privately. He held positions as organist, choral director, handbell director, and children’s choir director at numerous churches in the metropolitan Chicago area as well as the Hot Springs, Arkansas area.
Born July 9, 1949, in Geneva, Illinois, he and his two sisters formed a string trio at a young age. During their early school years in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, the trio was awarded first place in several Illinois ensemble competitions. In 1984 Shepard moved to Hot Springs Village, Arkansas. Upon his return to Mount Prospect, Illinois, in 2002, the trio continued to perform.
Shepard was the winner of a student competition of the Chicago AGO chapter, and maintained his membership in the Chicago chapter. For eight years he was the regular organist for the Chicago Sunday Evening Club, broadcast on Channel 11 (WTTW). He also operated his own antique clock repair business. William Shepard is survived by his mother, three sisters, and five nieces and nephews.
Eugene Szonntagh died May 8 in Sarasota, Florida. He was 85. Born July 31, 1924, in Budapest, he immigrated with his family to the U.S. in 1956 to escape the communist occupation of Hungary. He held degrees in both the arts and sciences and worked as a research scientist, for Leeds & Northrup Co. in Philadelphia, and for Honeywell. A holder of 29 U.S. patents, he had published over 100 technical articles in the field of chemical engineering. Szonntagh served as organist at several Philadelphia churches, and as dean of the Philadelphia AGO chapter. He composed over 100 organ and choral works, and performed as a recitalist and choral director both in the United States and in Hungary.
In 1982 he and his wife moved to Florida, where he served at churches in St. Petersburg, and as dean of the St. Petersburg AGO chapter. Later, in Sarasota, he served on the board of the Sarasota-Manatee chapter, and as musician at St. Wilfred’s Episcopal Church. Eugene Szonntagh is survived by his wife of 59 years, Nora, sons Desi and Tom, granddaughters Erika and Tiffany, and grandson Andrew.

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