James Erb was founding conductor of the Richmond Symphony Chorus, which he directed from 1971 to 2007.
He made terrific settings of the 110 Magnificats of Orlando di Lasso and is most widely known for choral versions of core Americana.
Holly Mulcahy, concertmaster of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, writes:
My fondest memories as a member of the Richmond Symphony were of Jim Erb and his family. During my first couple years I rented a room with the Erbs and they took me in as one of their family members. Winters would be warmed with and old recording of a symphonic great, a fire every night, with wood Jim chopped himself earlier in the day.
Jim and I bonded as fellow musicians and friends as we were both from Colorado, both huge fans of Bugs Bunny, and both fans of a good debate about music (I usually lost). Upon hearing I’d never heard of the great Beethoven work, Missa Solemnis, Jim went crazy, yelling “WHAT?! This cannot be!!!” and shoved 3 different CDs at me to go listen to immediately.
His passion for continual learning about and experiencing music was contagious for me. His drive to never stop writing about, performing, and listening was a good role model for all of us. I’m grateful to have called him a friend, mentor, and example. But like most musicians that pass, Jim will live on through the music he taught, wrote, and shared. May he rest in peace and may his love of music continue to be passed on and on…