Ned B. Fleischer, longtime director of the Empire State Youth Chorale, died Tuesday after he was stricken at his Troy residence.
Fleischer, whose student musicians performed annually during the Melodies of Christmas shows at Proctors in Schenectady, was 62.
“From childhood, he adored music,” said Wendy Tulin of Manhattan, Fleischer’s sister. “He took to the piano. Any instrument he picked up, he could play. He had a beautiful voice, although he didn’t think so.”
Fleischer, who was also the longtime director of the chorale at Shaker High School in Latham and worked with the Rensselyrics at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, had been preparing for the “Melodies” shows Dec. 15-18. He last rehearsed with his singers, all from local high school chorale groups, on Nov. 8.
Tulin, who said her brother called his young singers his “kiddies” and also enjoyed coffee and the New York Times crossword puzzle, said private funeral services are being planned.
Susan G. Brome, executive director of the Schenectady-based Empire State Youth Orchestras, said Fleischer had called group officials last Friday and said he had been ill and would not be able to hold a chorale rehearsal on Saturday. He had been planning to attend the rehearsal scheduled for Tuesday.
“It’s a dreadful loss,” Brome said. “Ned had a wonderful understanding of the repertoire of music for the season, and he was a wonderful teacher, very inspirational and with very high standards. He produced a chorale that was of top notch quality.”
Fleischer’s association with “Melodies” began in 1984, when the Shaker chorale performed in the annual holiday favorite. During the fall of 1988, Brome said, Fleischer began auditions for spots in the group. Singers from many different high schools participated and earned positions on the December stage.
Helen Cha-Pyo, who has conducted the Empire State Youth Orchestra during “Melodies” since 2002, described Fleischer as thoughtful, warm and kind. Lisa Jackson, news director at CBS 6 — which broadcasts the “Melodies” show on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day — said this year’s shows will be dedicated to Fleischer. Jackson is the show’s executive producer.
A Ned Fleischer Fan Club has started on social network Facebook. By late Thursday afternoon, 702 people had joined the page — many of them former students posting notes about their teacher and friend.
“Not only was he largely responsible for making my years at Shaker the best years of my life,” wrote Andy Sutherland of Newport, Del., who graduated in 1978, “but my experience there lead to my fulfilling involvement with community choruses since, even until today. He has certainly had a far-reaching, positive impact.”
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Categories: Schenectady County