Monday, November 16, 2009

Farewell until we meet again, Charlotte.

It was my privilege to know Charlotte Higgins as a wonderful friend and the first and only violin teacher of my daughter Katherine.  She was an amazing musician, and the impact she has had on Katherine's life in incalculable.  She passed away on November 10.  She will be missed and remembered every day.

Charlotte was a rugged individualist cut from that rare cloth of an otherworldly generation that placed value on hard work, integrity, accountability and self-reliance.  As a teacher, she was short on sympathy, but seemed to draw from unlimited reserves of patience, energy, enthusiasm and kindness.  I never heard her complain about anything except rude people and bad musical notes.  She never made excuses and did not want to hear yours.  In short, she was a perfect role model for my daughter and for me.

Charlotte played and recorded in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Sarasota and internationally throughout her life.  I have seen and heard her play with the Atlanta Opera, the Atlanta Ballet, the Greenville Symphony Orchestra (once featuring violinist Rachel Barton Pine), and in many church and community choral and orchestral productions.  Over the years, Katherine and I have accompanied her to many concerts of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra featuring Midori, Joshua Bell (we actually saw Bell three might call us groupies), and many other violinists.  We have enjoyed noon concerts of the Emory Vegas Quartet at the Carlos Museum, and master classes by Hilary Hahn and Nadia Salerno-Sonnenberg.  Most recently, she and I took up opera together, watching Metropolitan simulcasts of The Magic Flute and Tosca.  Even after Katherine left for college 2 1/2 years ago, she never forgot about us, and always had something planned for the future.  She continually broadened our horizons and she usually wore us out.

She will be greatly missed by her children, Jerri, Don and Beverly and her five grandchildren.  Allow me to share an Emerson quote which is, I think, a fitting tribute to Charlotte Higgins:

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament.  Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.

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