Memories

Glenn Harbison, student of Philip Catelinet

I suppose I should start with the Arts Building in what was then called Carnegie Tech. The music department proper was on the second floor from which you could look down into the massive marble lobby below. The first floor was where the Little Theatre was located, and it was there that PC taught a small wind ensemble, using some short English compositions… charming… light… engaging. One of them is still an ear-worm for me 43 years later! His manner was so very gentle and exacting. I grew up in the North Hills of Pittsburgh and was sent to have lessons and summer camp at Carnegie Tech. Meeting PC was such an eye opening culture shock for me. I didn’t realize that a teacher could have such presence, that you wanted to make it right for him. Needless to say, he got results. I think he was the first Brit that I had met, and I was so impressed.

I used to go for tea with him in a building that was originally an airplane hangar, called Skybo hall. There was a lot of light there and it was a well loved place: many were sorry to have seen it disappear for development of the campus. PC would often say, “I need to go to Skybo for some cold tea.” After the building was removed, the college put up a temporary wooden structure that was very boring and had food and drink machines. I will never forget the look of disgust on PC’s face when he saw someone buying a can of spaghetti, already heated and opened from a machine.  Then he tried the tea, which I think he left behind, as I recall.

His piano playing was amazing. I was impressed beyond belief when he would play the accompaniment for the Hindemith Trombone Sonata. I had practiced the trombone part before he decided it was time to put the piano and trombone together. I was shocked to hear what demands were put on the piano part for that piece. It is a beast, and the trombone part is very lovely but not at all challenging. It should have been called a Piano Sonata with trombone.

After many moves and changes in my life, I’ve ended up semi-retired in Victoria BC, which has a very mild climate, with sometimes no snow throughout the winter. A few years ago I was coming to the end of working for 15 years for a parenting magazine here. One of my clients who occasionally bought space in the magazine was the Salvation Army. One day I got to talking about all sorts of things with the gentleman from S.A. and mentioned that I had been a trombonist. Asking me who I studied with, I mentioned my teacher at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester N.Y. and also a teacher I had in Pittsburgh after PC. Then I mentioned PC, and he reacted to PC’s name with great respect: knew all about him, but had never had the pleasure of meeting him. He told me I was very lucky to have had such a teacher. That connection really left me with a flood of memories about him.

Speaking of the S.A., one time I had a lesson at PC’s house in Dormont in Pittsburgh. When I got there, PC was in S.A. uniform, and explained that his schedule was so tight that day that he had no choice… and “was I all right with that?” I didn’t know what he meant until I realized that he was just being so very respectful that a student would feel uncomfortable seeing his teacher in uniform that represented a particular religion. I, of course, knew he was a Salvationist, so it was no surprise to me. I had to reassure him that I was comfortable with the situation. I have repeated that story many many times, whenever a discussion has come anywhere close to talking about tolerance and respect for other’s beliefs. That same day, he showed me the picture of him with Vaughan Williams and I believe the VW’s cat was mentioned.  I can’t remember if he was in a picture, but I do remember that he was very curious about the tuba.

[PC] forged a solid, positive attitude in many around him making it obvious that he was very much enchanted with life.

Van Dyke Parks, student of Philip Catelinet

Dearly friends!

Today (Oct 12, 2016) marks the birthday of Vaughan Williams. Naturally, that brought my revered professor of yore to mind.
Philip endured my truancies and attendance on clarinet in many orch. classes.
That was from ’60-’62.
Now 73, I’ve pursued a life in eclectic demands of a music career, I’m always mindful l stand on the shoulders of giants such as Philip.

He wasn’t one to trumpet his own horn, as his mastery on tuba spoke for itself!
He played down his dedicated works for the Salvation Army.

I am entirely grateful that I met such a man.
Years later, while in Los Angeles, I met another virtuoso Tuba player, Roger Bobo.
Catelinet was the stuff of legend to him as well.

Thank you for keeping his flame burning bright!