Philadelphia mourns a principal cellist

William Stokking, a Piatogorsky student, joined the Philadelphia Orch in 1960 but then strayed to Boston and Cleveland for lack of promotion. He returned in 1973 as principal cello and held the seat until his retirement in 2005.

William died on Sunday, aged 80.

Here’s an account of his life-changing accidents.


william stokking

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  • William Stokking, a generous, kind man with a surreal gift for playing cello, also had a heart for animals. For years, with his wife Nancy Leichner Stokking (also a professional cellist and pianist) and other musicians, he performed at an annual concert organized by Nancy that raised funds for the Woodford Wildlife Refuge in Medford. N.J. In addition, he and Nancy offered their talents a few years ago at a major fundraiser for Collingswood resident Sara Ann Kronrot, who suffers from an especially severe form of cerebral palsy. Whenever Bill sat down with his cello and raised his bow, his fortunate listeners prepared for a profound experience of rapture as they heard transformative music that seemed too spiritual to come from a mere human being. Next spring, the silence of his cello at the annual Woodford concert will be deafening. RIP, Bill Stokking, one of the world’s all-time great cellists.

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