Choral conductor Ken Greenhouse began teaching at Berklee in 1982, and went on to chair the Voice Department from 1984 to 1996 before moving to Atlanta in 1999. He passed away July 16. (Read the obituary.) Yumiko Matsuoka, now a Berklee professor, met Ken when she began studying at Berklee herself.
I came to Berklee wanting to learn how to write, especially in a cappella style. Because I was not a voice principal, one of the few options to sing was in Ken’s ensemble, the College Singers. Ken was a wonderful director and phenomenal accompanist. He was very demanding and always asked us to be our best. I also took his Vocal Group Arranging class (now Vocal Writing) where he taught all the basics that I now use in my own writing. I was fortunate to be asked to sing everyone’s projects in Ken’s class, and he also encouraged me to write for the ensemble. If it weren’t for Ken, my confidence as an a cappella arranger/composer may not have blossomed. It was also in the College Singers that I met some of those who became members of my a cappella quintet, Vox One.
For a long time Ken lived on his own, with just a cat that I used to feed from time to time because we were neighbours in the same apartment building (Ken helped my husband and me get a place in that building!). But then he met Susan who became his wife and who was so devoted to him all the way through the difficult times. When I visited Ken in Atlanta in 2007 with my colleagues Lucy Holstedt and Paul Stiller, I was overwhelmed by how cheerful Susan was, and how bright Ken’s eyes were despite his loss of mobility.
Ken, I miss you and I’ll miss you forever. But I also know that you’ll be watching over us, encouraging us to keep creating the kind of music you taught us how to.
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