Mila Katrine Aho
1935 - 2018
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Mila Katrine Aho

Memphis, TN

Mila Katrine Aho was born in Ashtabula, Ohio on June 24, 1935. Known as Katrine, she was a gifted musician, beloved teacher, and an ardent "cat person." She passed away in Urbana, Illinois at the age of 82 on March 26, 2018.

The youngest of six children, both of her parents were American-born offspring of Finnish immigrants. Her father, Reverend Gustav Axel Aho (1897-1973), was a Lutheran minister who served congregations primarily in Ashtabula and Painesville, Ohio, where Katrine grew up. Her mother, Helia (Tuikka) Aho (1897-1967), often served as the choir director in support of her husband's ministry.

Katrine was drawn to music as a child and achieved high marks in her many years of participating in the National Guild of Piano Teachers' National Playing Auditions. At Painesville's Harvey High School, she was elected to both the National Music Honor Society and the National Honor Society.

After graduating in 1953, Katrine received a scholarship from the American Association for University Women as well as the Tiber Scholarship to attend Lake Erie College in Painesville.

Katrine took a year off from the College (1954-55) to travel to Lahti, Finland with her parents, where she studied at the Lahti Conservatory with Finnish organist Tauno Äikää (1917-2008). Katrine returned to Lake Erie College for the fall semester of 1955, to continue her piano studies with Harold Fink. For her junior term abroad, she studied organ with Professor Guichard at the University of Grenoble in Grenoble, France.

In her final year at Lake Erie College, Katrine received the Lydia Jane Champney Honor Scholarship "in recognition of scholastic excellence and achievement." Her senior recital included works by Pachelbel, Bach-Busoni, Brahms, Schumann, Beethoven, and Debussy.

Following her graduation in 1958 from the College, where she earned a B.A. in Music, Katrine was married to her first husband, the visual artist and teacher Albert W. Beck, and they settled in the northeast Ohio region. Katrine taught piano privately and at the Ashtabula Fine Arts Center, and was the senior organist at the Painesville Methodist Church. From 1964-67 she also continued to study piano privately with Harold Fink.

When the family moved in 1967 to Prairie Village, Kansas, Katrine pursued graduate study in piano for a year at the UMKC Conservatory of Music with Joanne Baker (1923-2004). The judges' comments at her piano jury were enthusiastic and supportive: "She's very good!" "Clean technique & great spirit." "Overall performance was great!" "Your performance is most musical." "Very musical! Excellent phrasing"

After the year in Kansas, the family settled in Quincy, Illinois, where Katrine developed a private piano studio and was an organ instructor at Culver-Stockton College in Canton, Missouri. She also held various positions playing the organ at area churches in Canton and Hannibal, Missouri, as well as in Quincy, and often performed on both the piano and organ in local recitals. One reviewer from that time declared that her "impressive playing of the famous Toccata and Fugue in D minor by Bach was a rousing conclusion to the program. She proved to be an impeccable performer at this great instrument and was given generous applause by the audience."

Katrine was a long-time member of the American Guild of Organists, Mu Phi Epsilon (the national professional music sorority) and was active in the Illinois Music Teachers Association, assuming the position of president of the Quincy chapter in the early 1970s. She performed in an alumnae recital at Lake Erie College in 1981.

Katrine later relocated to Memphis, Tennessee and earned an M.M. in organ performance from the University of Memphis, graduating in 1989. She remained in Memphis for the rest of her life, maintaining a private piano studio, continuing to play organ for church services, most recently at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, and occasionally performing in the area. Katrine was a gifted pianist and organist as well as a dedicated teacher who inspired many students through her love of music.

Katrine was predeceased by her parents and five siblings. She is survived by her three children: Jeremy Beck (Christine Ehrick) of Louisville, Kentucky; Adam (Megumi) Beck of Hiroshima, Japan; and Zoe Revell (Gary) of Urbana, Illinois, as well as by five grandchildren, many nieces and nephews, and hundreds of former students, friends, and colleagues from days past and present.

A celebration of Katrine's life will be held on Monday, April 2, at 11:00 AM at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, 3745 Kimball Avenue, Memphis, TN 38111, (901) 743-6421. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that mourners please consider supporting the good work of the Humane Society of Memphis & Shelby County in Katrine's name – thank you.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Commercial Appeal on Mar. 29, 2018.
Celebration of Life
11:00 AM
Not sure what to say?
3 entries
April 2, 2018
My deepest condolences go to the family for the loss of your dear Mila. May loved ones and the words of Isaiah 57:15 provide you with much comfort.
April 1, 2018
I have a vivid memory of watching my beautiful Aunt Katrine perform an organ concert - in awe that her petite frame, hands and feet gliding like a dance, could elicit such powerful music from that mammoth German pipe organ. In this way, she always seemed to me so graceful and elegant, yet in possession of a commanding presence. I know that my father (Gerhard) was always proud of his "kid" sister, my gentle, kind and gifted Aunt Katrine. We send our love and condolences to her nearest and dearest in their loss.

Amy Kunz (Aho) & Family
Amy Kunz
March 30, 2018
The FTD Eternal Affection Arrangement
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