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Conductor Robert Hart Baker has Died, Aged 69

Hart Baker was music and artistic director of the Belleville Philharmonic Society


Conductor Robert Hart Baker, who was music and artistic director of the Belleville Philharmonic Society, has passed away at the age of 69. He had already been on sick leave from the post, owing to ongoing kidney issues.

Baker studied conducting with some of the twentieth century's foremost figures, including Herbert von Karajan, at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, and Leonard Bernstein,at Harvard University. Aged just 22, he was named as the founding Music Director of the Connecticut Philharmonic Orchestra.

Following this, Baker received his doctorate from the Yale School of Music, where he studied with Otto-Werner Mueller and Arthur Weisberg.

Alongside his post in Belleville, Baker was also closely associated with the Saint Louis Philharmonic, the Asheville Lyric Opera, and the Asheville Symphony Orchestra.

"I was just astounded by the degree to which he cherished our heritage and loved what we stood for, our history and the idea of amateur musicians making quality music," said Ethan Edwards, the president of the Belleville Philharmonic Society Board.

"It is with a heavy heart and warm affection that we recognize the passing of our Artistic and Music Director Dr. Robert Hart Baker," the society wrote in a statement. "His passion and knowledge impacted each of us in the orchestra and in our wider community in ways we can never forget. Not only did his leadership make us better musicians, but his loving example made us all better people."

"We will miss him terribly, but can only give heartfelt thanks for the many gifts he shared with us so generously."

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