A. Clyde Roller ’41, a celebrated conductor at the Eastman School of Music, passed away at the age of 91 in San Antonio, Texas.

An Oklahoma native, Roller began studying oboe as a young boy. He started his professional musical career as principal oboist with the Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra, later joining the Oklahoma City Symphony.

He first returned to Eastman in 1963 to accept the position as professor of ensemble. As professor of ensemble, he directed the Eastman Wind Ensemble from 1964 to 1966.

He led them in the recording of Hovhaness’ third symphony, which was named one of the best recordings of the year by High Fidelity, a music review publication.

After leaving Eastman, he continued on to be named the resident conductor of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, professor of music at the University of Texas at Austin and a guest conductor across the globe.

Throughout his career, Roller received a number of honors and awards for his work. In Amarillo, Texas, he is credited for saving the Amarillo Symphony. Under Roller’s guidance, the symphony made the transition from a volunteer organization to a professional symphony.

The City of Amarillo recognized him with the Man of the Year Award in 1961. In addition, he received the Texas Orchestra Director of the Year Award, the Outstanding Educator of America Award and the National Artist Affiliate Award from Sigma Alpha Iota, an internationally recognized fraternity for music students.

Roller also dedicated 50 summers of his life working with Interlochen Center for the Arts. Interlochen works to engage and inspire musicians worldwide to strive for excellence in educational, artistic and cultural programs, enhancing the quality of life through the arts.

“[He] was very expressive and a real mentor to young musicians,” conductor of the academy band Bryan Hanson said. “No matter what instrument [the students] played, he could teach them something.”

While at Interlochen, Roller was presented with one of his highest honors – the Edwin Franko Goldman Memorial Citation by the American Bandmasters Association for his deducation and contributions to bands and band music in America.

Roller’s daughter, Lynda Verner, stated that there are ongoing plans for a memorial service to be held at Interlochen during the summer.

In the winter of 1981, Roller returned to Eastman and was honored with the Eastman School’s Alumni Achievement Award, which was awarded to him for his ability to “elicit an uncommon unanimity of purpose, inspiring the highest musical standards – because of his uncompromising musical integrity and unceasing dedication, the nation and world are considerably enriched,” as read the award.

For the 50th anniversary of the Eastman Wind Ensemble in 2002, he conducted “Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral.” The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle described the performance as being “in every way rewarding [with] charm, simplicity and bucolic warmth,” which also seems to be an appropriate description of his interactions in the musical world.

Brod can be reached at mbrod@campustimes.org.



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