Peter L. Row (1944 - 2018)

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HEATH - Peter Lyman Row, 73, of Heath, MA passed away April 2, 2018 from unexpected complications associated with very recently diagnosed cancer.
He was born to the late Arthur and Anne Row on September 25, 1944, in Boston, MA, and was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Tracy.
A performing musician, teacher, and ethnomusicologist, Peter was a highly regarded member of the faculty of the New England Conservatory since 1973 and later served as Dean (1983-1990) and Provost (1990-1996 and 2000-2004). Peter was a talented administrator. During his tenure at NEC he established the Doctoral of Music program and introduced world music into the curriculum under the leadership of then President Gunther Schuller.
Peter was introduced to music as a young boy by his parents and paternal grandfather, an amateur organist. At age eight he started with trumpet and at ten began violin studies. As a teenager Peter pursued music theory and composition, performed chamber music, played in orchestras, and developed an interest in folk guitar. As a junior in high school Peter first learned of North Indian music, which led him to move to Calcutta, India, in 1965 to study Indian Classical music with Sangeetachanrya Gokul Nag, first on sitar and later on rudra vina. By 1973 he had obtained degrees of Bachelor of Music, Master of Music and Doctor of Music (Sangitacharya), from the Prayag Sangit Samiti in Allahabad, India where he received the gold medal in the Instrumental Music Division B.M. Merit list exams and the silver medal in the Instrumental Music Division M.M. Merit list exams.
Peter performed in concert throughout North America and India and made numerous radio and television appearances. A former president of the Northeast Chapter of the Society of Ethnomusicology, he was a well-known and widely published scholar of cross-cultural studies and has lectured on music and the role of the arts in culture across the U.S. He was the recipient of a JDR Third Fund Fellowship for Doctoral Studies in India, and served as a consultant on Asian music for the Smithsonian Institute.
At NEC, he taught in the Contemporary Improvisation, Liberal Arts, and Music History Departments. Of note was his perennially popular Indian Modal Improvisation course, where he taught a wide range of instrumental students, including sitarists, violinists, guitarists, clarinetists, electric bassists and saxophonists, among others. In addition to teaching mastery of technique, Peter helped students gain the broader skills that allowed them to express their own creativity through music. Many of his students have gone on to very successful careers in a wide range of musical endeavors across the world. Peter developed and taught many new classes, including 'The Buddha', 'Cultural History of India', 'Hindu Myths', and 'The Travels of Marco Polo (Il Milione)', as well as both undergrad and graduate offerings looking at the Music of India. He was committed to sharing his love of Indian music with a wider audience through the many lecture demos he gave at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and in various colleges and concert venues throughout New England. He was a frequent musical collaborator with his colleagues in NEC's Contemporary Improvisation Department and was instrumental in bringing several prominent Indian musicians to the Boston area and NEC including Pandit Ravi Shankar, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and was active in promoting Indian music in the US throughout his career.
Peter will be widely missed by family, friends, fellow faculty members and administrators and the large number of students he has taught over the decades. He loved teaching and working with students, and he was, in turn, a much beloved and treasured mentor to many. His generosity of spirit and his gentle and loyal support helped to guide many people throughout his life, and he will be sorely missed.
In recent years, after moving to Western Massachusetts, Peter enjoyed expanding interests in many new areas, and enjoyed hobbies of archery, canoeing, fishing and biking. He made many new friends. He was an active participant in town alternative energy committees and in the Heath Union Church, where he sang bass in the choir, helped establish an annual music series, began planning a supplemental hymnal with universal and nature themes, and enjoyed lively conversations on comparative religion, philosophy and history.
Until the end of his life, Peter continued musical explorations, ranging from a deeper focus on rudra vina, to performing Hindustani music with a new trio of musicians (sitar, violin and tabla); to exploring the connection between ragas and Portuguese Cantigas; to performing free improvisation with Jazz French Horn. His early love of classical music, especially violin, and folk music remained constant, and Peter continued to attend many classical concerts and to play and sing folk music while accompanying himself on the guitar.
Survivors include his wife, Heather; son, Andrew and partner Catherine Hanningan; son Christopher, wife Agatha, granddaughters Emma and Beatrice; brother David, wife Kathleen; brother Gordon, wife Ginia, and niece Catherine; and nieces Rachel and Sarah Kaufman. Peter loved spending time with family and was a beloved husband, father, brother, uncle, son-in-law, and relative. He will be deeply missed by his family and many friends in the U.S., India and throughout the world.
A family-only memorial service was held on April 8th in Heath. Additional memorial services are being planned for Boston in the fall of 2018, and in Heath and Minneapolis this summer 2018.
Gifts in memory of Peter Row may be made to The NEC Fund designated for student scholarship support.
Funeral Home
Smith-Kelleher Funeral Home Inc
40 Church St
Shelburne Falls, MA 01370
(413) 625-2121
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Published in The Recorder on Apr. 24, 2018