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A soft music swan song

Comstock to step down from museum's Recorder Corsort

Comstock to step down from museum's Recorder Corsort

May 20, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

George Comstock has been playing recorders since he was a high school student in Niagara Falls, N.Y. A rich man who was interested in the instrument bought the recorders and formed a quartet to play "soft music" at civic functions - perhaps the first in the country, Comstock said.

He sought out the recorder and opportunities to with other musicians wherever his medical research took him - from Alaska to Georgia. A Johns Hopkins researcher in the county since 1962, Comstock directed the Washington County Training Center for Public Health Research.

He has played with the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts Recorder Consort since its beginning 25 years ago.

His final performance with the ensemble will be Sunday, May 23, at the museum.

"I guess this will be my swan song," he said. Practicing takes time, and Comstock, 89, said he has many other things he wants to do, reviewing manuscripts for medical journals among them.

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The museum is an especially nice place to hear recorder music, said Jean Woods, former director of the fine arts museum.

Woods called Comstock a brilliant individual.

"He really is a role model for all of us," she said.

Consort member Naomi Styer agrees.

"He is just totally amazing," she said.

Comstock will be joined in Sunday's performance by Naomi and David Styer, William Hull and classical guitarist Candice Mowbray.

Lora and Robert Byler, longtime members of the ensemble, stepped down earlier and will be honored in a performance next season, Naomi Styer said.

Sunday's performance will be a program of dance music - some from the 16th century, a couple of tangos and a trio of pieces billed as "Whimsical Duos" by 20th-century composer Andrew Charlton.

Comstock confessed he doesn't like medieval music. It's not tuneful, he said. Neither does he consider the recorders he's been playing for more than 70 years good solo instruments. There are not many overtones, no emotion, he explained.

However, in consort - in ensemble with other players - the music of the recorder pleases Comstock, from the tiny soprano too small for his fingers, to the large contrabass.

"The ensemble is what makes it," Naomi Styer agreed.

After Sunday, the Recorder Consort will play without its longtime member and friend.




If you go...



Recorder Consort

2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 23

Washington County Museum of Fine Arts

City Park

Hagerstown

Free

The Recorder Consort will perform a preview of Sunday's program at 7 p.m. Friday, May 21, at Fahrney-Keedy Home and Village, 8507 Mapleville Road in Boonsboro. The public is welcome to attend the free concert.

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