Correction: May 5
Gretchen Snedeker, a graduate student at the Eastman School of Music, died in a automobile collision in Oneida, N.Y. last Thursday when another car entered her lane when she was on her way to teach at Colgate University. Snedeker was an adjunct professor at Colgate.
Snedeker had received a Bachelor of Music degree in May 2005 from Eastman. She also held a performer’s certificate in horn and attended the University of New Hampshire for one year before she returned to Eastman to get a Master of Music in Horn Performance and Literature.
Snedeker was on course to graduate in May and was engaged to another Eastman graduate student, Andy Smith.
According to Woodwind, Brass and Percussion Professor Peter Kurau, Snedeker had the position of principal horn of the Colgate Symphony and the Utica Symphony in addition to her studies. Kurau was Snedeker’s horn professor.
She was also often a substitute hornist for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and the Buffalo Philharmonic, and she had a position on the staff of the Kendall Betts Horn Camp in Littleton, N.H.
In an e-mail that UR President Joel Seligman sent to the University community on April 11, Snedeker’s mother, Kathy Snedeker, asked Seligman to let the students at UR know that “the happiest days of Gretchen’s life had been spent performing at Eastman.”
Snedeker led a fulfilling and happy life prior to the tragic car accident. She wrote on her Facebook “About Me” section, “I like being comfortable in my own skin, which means being an elaborate collection of contradictions. I regularly alternate between classy and sophisticated to being wild and carefree? Oh, and I’m deliriously happy right now and never want it to end. Ever.”
Mark Scatterday, one of Snedeker’s mentors, commented on her accomplishments and on the connection that they had.
“She was widely considered one of the top horn players in school during her undergrad and grad years,” Scatterday said. “She was selected to many honors and performed with the Eastman Wind Ensemble on their 2004 Asian Tour to Japan, China and Taiwan and a 2005 performance at Carnegie Hall. She was the only horn player to have been selected for both in consecutive years.”
Kurau agreed with Scatterday and discussed Snedeker’s merits.
“Gretchen was the model student: responsible, curious, dependable, motivated, entrepreneurial, tenacious, eclectic, talented, industrious [and] disciplined,” Kurau said. “The list is endless.”
“She was on the cusp of what would certainly have been a substanial and impressive professional career and was newly engaged to be married to tubist Andy Smith, with whom she collaborated on several concerts,” Kurau added.
“Our relationship was close,” Scatterday continued. “We had a lot of time to get to know each other on a three and a half week tour overseas. I will remember her face in rehearsal and concerts – she always grooved with the music and was in the moment with her art. Mature beyond her years, she was a leader and role model to many of our younger students. She will be missed but never forgotten. Our hearts and prayers go out to her family and her fiance, Andy Smith.”
Kurau commented on reactions he has recieved in the week since Snedeker’s death.
“It speaks volumes about Gretchen’s influence that my inbox was deluged with messages from people who knew her, but not necessarily me, expressing their sorrow and condolences,” Kurau said. “She was admired, respected and loved, and all of us are all the richer for having known her and all the poorer by her tragic loss.”
The University flag was lowered to half staff last Friday and Monday in memory of Snedeker. In addition, her family has organized a memorial walk to be held at Beaver Lake Nature Center in Baldwinsville, N.Y., which will be held today at 3 p.m.
Dean of the Eastman School of Music Douglas Lowry said that there will be a memorial service for Snedeker in the near future.
Donations may be made in her honor and can be sent to the Hochstein Youth Symphony Orchestra, c/o Hochstein Music School, 50 N. Plymouth Ave., Rochester, NY 14614.
Handis is a member of the class of 2009.