He was a tough taskmaster.
Impossible expectations could have been his first name. Perfection could have been his middle name. Success could have been his last name.
He inspired me. He challenged me. He taught me, and he applauded me. Often in the same breath.
There was never any question if he was pleased with your performance, or if you had failed to meet the standard he had set as a threshold for acceptance. It showed on his face. And you did not want to see his face of failure. It was too painful to observe.
He wasn’t a friend. He was a music teacher. His job was to get the most he could from these young voices he was charged to instruct.
He was the most influential of my many teachers, no doubt because he demanded so much, and succeeded in getting all that he demanded. Even these farm kids, who knew nothing about music, were determined to give the best they had in order to win his approval.
This determined and driven man passed away last week at 91, his voice still demanding, still cajoling, still expecting until he drew his last breath on this earth.
I will always be grateful for his love of music and his willingness to share that love. He was a gift to me…to all of us who learned to sing and soar under his direction.
Thank you, Hugh Ellison