Musician Robert Grab dies

March 24, 2000|By KATE COLEMAN

Robert Grab, a musician who was second trumpet with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, died Wednesday at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 43.

Grab had been ill since the beginning of February with a rare reaction to the Epstein-Barr virus, according to his brother, Charles Grab, MSO's principal trumpeter.

Grab was among the most positive and supportive players in the orchestra, said Maryland Symphony Orchestra Music Director Elizabeth Schulze.

He gave of his time above and beyond the concert schedule, both in the schools and the community, Schulze said.

"When he wasn't playing, he was smiling," she said.

"What a tragedy," said Barry Tuckwell, former music director of the MSO, who worked with Grab for 16 years. "He will be missed in so many ways Music was a joy to him," Tuckwell said. "Lovely, lovely man."

Joseph J. McIntyre, the MSO's principal timpanist, had played with Grab in the orchestra since it was formed. "He was just so much a part of the orchestra," McIntyre said.


Robert Grab wore several hats - including Santa Claus' during the MSO's holiday concerts. He played second trumpet with the orchestra, was a member of the MSO Brass Quintet and was a founding member of the St. James Brass Quintet.

French horn player and quintet member Ed Schupp of Hagerstown doesn't know exactly when he first met Grab. "It just seems that Robert has been in my life as long as I can remember," he said.

Grab had been a member of the Potomac Symphony and Maryland Theater orchestras, said Marc D. Levy, MSO managing director.

Grab was president of the Hagerstown Municipal Band. Director Lynn Lerew recalled the ease and purity of Grab's playing and called him a keystone of the band.

Grab lived in the dormitory at St. James School for 15 of the 20 years he taught there and in a house on the campus during the past five years. He taught music, was assistant librarian and Chapel Sexton.

"He was absolutely devoted to the chapel," said the Rev. D. Stuart Dunnan, headmaster at St. James.

In a school such as St. James, some people are the foundation, others are the bricks. "Robert was the mortar," said Dunnan relating comments made by the school's chaplain, the Rev. Kevin J. Moroney.

Jonathan Gerhart, 18, senior prefect at the school, worked closely with Grab at the chapel and recalled the teacher's "very strong faith." Gerhart did a lot of counseling with Grab and recalled that even if he was grumpy, Grab would make him smile.

Marjorie Hobbs of Hagerstown worked with Grab at St. James School, her kids were his choir students and he was always willing to be helpful when she was president of the MSO Guild. "He was a real friend in so many ways," she said.

Sandy Wantz, former MSO managing director, also recalled Grab as a good friend. "He was one of the best people I'll ever know," she said.

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