The quick smile of Mary Whitaker

The quick smile of Mary Whitaker


norman lebrecht

August 23, 2014

Jonathan Taylor, who works for several New York orchestras, has written this touching tribute to his friend, the violinist  Mary Whitaker, who was shot dead by robbers at her upstate rural home.

.mary whitaker

I had the privilege of working with Mary Whitaker for thirty years, primarily with the Westchester Philharmonic and American Composers Orchestra. Mary was an excellent violinist, good enough to assume principal positions when called upon. She was also a bright, responsible professional, whom I felt comfortable leaving in charge when I could not be present to fulfil my duties as personnel manager. But none of that seems important today.

The outpouring of love from friends and colleagues on Facebook taps feelings that go well beyond respect for her abilities. Although news stories have described her as being private and quiet, I always found her quick with a hug and a smile, almost invariably cheerful. Yet she had a serious side as well, exemplified by her concern and support for fellow musicians that led her to be active on orchestra committees and at the Union.

This concern was always thoughtful, in the sense of being full of thought, and went beyond reflexive concerns. She cared also about the orchestras as institutions. And of course, she loved music, with a special affinity for contemporary music.

She wrote to me this summer, excited that ACO would be playing music of Meredith Monk, and hopeful that she would be performing on that concert. What a loss it is that she has been deprived of that opportunity, and that we have been deprived of her continuing friendship.

All of us in the New York free-lance community are horrified by the manner in which she has been taken from us. But, our collective hearts go out especially to her partner, Suzanne Gilman, whose loss is unimaginable.



  • JJC says:

    Thank You, John, for stating our collective feelings so well.

  • Kathe says:

    Thank you, Jon. Beautifully said.

  • Polly van der Linde says:

    A senseless act of violence. Thank you for sharing more about Mary’s professional work, passions and about her classical music friends who care so much.

  • Frank Morelli says:

    Jon, you’ve have written so eloquently for all of us. She was beautiful in every respect.

  • Paul Woodiel says:

    Thank you so much, John for this.

  • NYMike says:

    Jon, a beautiful summation. Thanks!