Editor's Note: MTNA would like to recognize those individuals whose lives made a mark in the music teaching profession. We note with sorrow their passing.
Usher Abell, 87, of Vermillian, South Dakota, died February 6, 2003. He taught violin at Ouachita College in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and was concert master of the Arkansas Symphony in Little Rock from 1939-1942. He served as a musician in the U.S. Navy from 1942-1945, and he joined the faculty at the University of South Dakota (USD) in 1946. Abell chaired the school's music department from 1952 to 1969, retiring in 1976 after thirty-one years of teaching. He received the South Dakota Music Educators Award in 1982. In 1988, he and his wife, Edith Barnes Parrish, were presented with the South Dakota Governor Award for support of the arts. Usher served as adjudicator, clinician and conductor in South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota. Conductor of the USD symphony for many years, he also played violin and viola in the Sioux City Symphony for more than thirty years.
Anthony Chanaka, 84, of Chevy Chase, Maryland, died October 25, 2002. Chanaka, a Washington, D.C., native, was a graduate of the Washington College of Music, where he served for a time on the faculty. He also attended George Washington University. As a pianist, he worked with soprano Sarita Gloria, giving recitals in the 1950s and '60s and recording Brazilian songs for RCA Victor. He also gave solo recitals at the National Gallery of Art and the Phillips Collection. He was recognized as a fifty-year MTNA member in 1999.
Isabel Laughlin Scionti, acclaimed concert pianist and teacher, died June 26, 2002, in Denton, Texas. Scionti attended Baylor University, where she studied with Roxy Grove. Upon graduating with honors, she studied with concert pianist Silvio Scionti at Chicago Musical College. After earning her master's degree, she became Silvio Scionti's assistant, and soon afterward became his wife. The Sciontis played two-piano concerts, achieving high acclaim in major cities in Europe, Mexico and the united States. Their 1938 and 1939 concerts at Carnegie Hall drew rave reviews. Renowned for their Bach interpretations, the Sciontis performed the first all Bach two-piano concert in New York's Town Hall on December 5, 1941. They also gave two Philco Television concerts in Philadelphia in 1942, marking the first time serious music was presented on television. After moving to Denton in the early 1940s, Isabel Scionti started an independent studio, at one time filling her roster with eighty students. Among her many awards, she was selected as the Outstanding Teacher of the Year by the Texas Music Teachers Association. She was a principal judge and benefactor to the Kingsville International Isabel Scionti Piano Solo Competitions.
Jerome Stasson of West Bloomfield, Michigan, died January 3, 2003. …