03 August 2014

Sunday's Obituary: Duane R Skrabalak

Binghamton: Duane R. Skrabalak, 65, passed away April 21, 2014 unexpectedly at home, after a few years of declining health. Duane was pre-deceased by his mother, Helen, and his father, Stanley. He is survived by his brother and sister-in-law, Dr. Dale S. and Linda M. Skrabalak; his sister and brother-in-law, Darlene and Jon Kendrot; niece, Dr. Heather L. Gifford (Andrew); nephew, Nickolas A. Skrabalak (Lauren); niece, Ashley and his fabulous great-nieces and great-nephews, Alayna, Jocelyn, Maxton and Hayes. Duane is also survived by two dear friends: his mentor, Peyton Hibbitt and Joanne Ardune.

Duane's earliest professional training began in 1970 with the Tri-Cities Opera under the tutelage of TCO founders Peyton Hibbitt and Carmen Savoca. He first joined the company as a singer and pianist but soon became choral director and eventually crossed the footlights to concentrate on conducting as well as coaching voice and language. He made his conducting debut in 1974 with Gounod's Faust. Since then he has conducted more than 80 productions, as well as numerous chamber programs and special presentations. He was named Artistic Director in 1995 and soon after joined the faculty of Binghamton University as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Voice/Opera for the Master of Music program with specialization in Opera. Duane was music director for the world premier of Myron Fink's Chinchilla. He also served as host of TCO's Operalogues which broadcasted on public radio. During his tenure with TCO and BU he has made numerous guest conducting appearances including the Atlanta Civic Opera, the Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, the Clemens Center in Elmira and the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra for the Israel Festival. Duane retired from both the Tri-Cities Opera and Binghamton University in 2010. Many of his students have gone forward to enjoy illustrious operatic careers around the world. From the NYC Metropolitan Opera to the famous stages of Europe, students have profited greatly from his teaching. Duane's approach to music was paternal. He felt that singers needed to be nurtured and allowed to grow.

Duane's wit and incredible genius will be missed by the many who knew and loved him. He was a great musical artist, friend and brother. At age 50, Duane became the youngest person to receive a star on Binghamton's Walk of Fame. The world was a better place with Duane in it, but as the cliché states, the best indeed die too young. Funeral arrangements are being made by Laskowski Funeral Home, 367 Prospect Street, Binghamton. Viewing for family and friends will be Sunday, April 27th, from 4 pm-7 pm at Laskowski's. Funeral services will be April 28th at 9:30 am at Main Street Baptist Church, 117 Main Street, Binghamton. Burial will follow at Calvary Cemetery, Johnson City.

Published in Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin from Apr. 25 to Apr. 28, 2014
 
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