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In Memoriam (Page 1 of 4)

In Memoriam

Remembering Mike Renzi

Boston Conservatory alum Denise DeCaro (B.F.A. ’74) remembers the life and extraordinary career of her long-time friend and collaborator, Mike Renzi in the following tribute. Renzi passed away on September 28, 2021.

By Denise DeCaro

Pianist Mike Renzi

Mike Renzi (Image by Carol Mainelli)

On September 28, 2021, the internet lit up across the world as the recording and entertainment community learned of the sudden passing of maestro Mike Renzi, jazz musician and one of the most revered accompanists in the world. “He accompanied Mel Torme, Lena Horne, Lady Gaga, Tony Bennett, and Big Bird,” as New York Times journalist, Neil Genzlinger, wrote in his Sunday, October 17, 2021 article, highlighting Mike Renzi’s 70-year career.

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In Memoriam: Ralph Peterson Jr.

Dear members of the Berklee community,

It is with great sadness that we share the news that Berklee has lost another of its icons. Cherished faculty member, bandleader, composer, and drummer dynamo Ralph Peterson Jr. passed away peacefully on March 1 at his home in North Dartmouth, Massachusetts, from complications from a long battle with cancer. He was 58.

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In Memoriam: Dave Samuels

Dear members of the Berklee community,

As you heard recently, Dave Samuels, a former longtime faculty member in Berklee’s Ensemble Department, passed away on April 22 at age 70 after a long illness.

Dave was a renowned vibraphonist and percussionist who was best known for his work over several decades with the band Spyro Gyra. He was also a member of Gerry Mulligan’s sextet, and had played with musicians such as Carla Bley, Frank Zappa, David Friedman, and Paul McCandless. He cofounded the groups Double Image, Gallery, and the Skylight Trio, and released several solo albums throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

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In Memoriam: Janet Haas

Dear members of the Berklee community,

As you heard recently, Janet Haas, assistant professor in the Music Education Department, passed away last month at age 59 after a brief battle with brain cancer.

“I speak for our whole department in saying that Janet was an exceptional musician, educator, mentor, and colleague,” said Cecil Adderley, chair of Berklee’s Music Education Department. “A highly respected member of the string world, she was humble and cared about all her students, from the beginner to the most accomplished players. Her wit and passion will be missed.”

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In Memoriam: Bill Gitt

Dear members of the Berklee community,

On June 8, William “Bill” Gitt, former faculty member and chief engineer at Berklee, passed away at age 86.

Born in Hanover, Pennsylvania, Bill got his start at Dartmouth College in the early 1950s, as a student building electronics for the college’s radio station. He joined the U.S. Army after college, where he expanded his knowledge of electronics. Bill contracted at RCA for the army on the first silicone-based computer in Camden, New Jersey.

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