It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Jacob Avshalomov, Musical Director of the Portland Youth Philharmonic from 1954 to 1995. His vision and dedication ensured that the orchestra and association, created by Jacques Gershkovitch, would be preserved forever as a great American cultural institution.
“Mr. A,” as he was affectionately known to his musicians, was the guiding spirit of a great organization as well as a mentor to thousands of young people in Portland. He was the second and longest-serving conductor in the history of PYP. He introduced the orchestra to countless people locally, nationally and internationally through broadcasts, recordings and tours.
A highly regarded composer, Maestro Avshalomov enriched the repertoire of PYP with his own compositions as well as those of other contemporary composers. He was an eloquent spokesperson for the composers of the 20th Century. An accomplished and engaging public speaker, his program commentaries and other public appearances were informative, erudite and sophisticated while still being accessible to audiences of all ages.
Current Musical Director David Hattner commented, “No single person cared more for the Portland Youth Philharmonic or did more to preserve it for future generations than Jacob Avshalomov. His legacy includes not only the alumni who performed with him but all of those who have followed and will continue to follow. His personal connection with the students included remembering their names and faces decades after their graduation from the orchestra. Every musician who worked with him will retain strong memories of him for life.”
We express our deepest sympathies to his wife Doris and his sons David and Daniel. We wish them peace in this difficult time.
We will be assembling an online memorial page for Mr. A, and we hope that you will go to the Portland Youth Philharmonic Facebook organization page for updates; email stories, photos, or video to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org; and feel free to post comments here on the PYP Blog.