The Gift of Music

Cally Issidoridis '22 plays the violin.

Story by Carol Marcy | Photo by Keith Walters ’11

Distinguished Service Professor James Walker and his spouse Barbara Walker endowed a scholarship for incoming musicians.

Retired SUNY Distinguished Service Professor James Walker and his spouse, Barbara, a retired nurse practitioner and former French hornist, made a gift to the College to create The James and Barbara Walker Scholarship in Music. Up to four scholarships will be awarded each year to incoming instrumental music majors who intend to participate in the Geneseo Symphony Orchestra, Wind Ensemble or other instrumental music opportunities at Geneseo and are renewable for four years. 

Walker, who was the conductor of the Geneseo Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble, is a musician and composer who dedicated more than 55 years to helping students find their musical interests and hone their skills. Though he retired from teaching in 2016, he remains active as a composer. 

“We want to preserve and enhance what is already here,” said James Walker. “The quality of the instruction is second to none at Geneseo, and one of the nice things is that it’s out of proportion in terms of quality to the size of the school.” Walker has served on the faculties of Harvard University, the University of Rochester, SUNY Brockport, University of Victoria, B.C., and the New England Conservatory. 

Louis Lohraseb ’13 was a pupil of James Walker in the music program, who went on to graduate from Yale University’s orchestral conducting program and is now the assistant conductor of the LA Opera. Lohraseb says his life is “nifty.” It’s a word he learned from Walker, who used it when paying his highest compliments. Lohraseb developed his talents as a pianist, musicologist and composer under Walker’s mentorship. 

“Conducting, which fused all my interests into one profession, called to me during my time at Geneseo,” said Lohraseb. “Professor Walker was the driving force in my recognizing what I should be doing for the rest of my life and for guiding me through my studies. He’s made a truly unquantifiable contribution to my life.” 

The Walkers attest to the outcomes of good mentorship across the College and the reward of seeing students succeed. “There’s a very close relationship between the faculty and students here,” Barbara Walker said. “And when they grow up, it’s like your kids are doing well.” 

The scholarships, said the Walkers, will provide opportunities for aspiring musicians for generations, so they, too, can have similar experiences. 

Author: geneseoscene

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