Doris and Bill Preucil

Doris and Bill Preucil

Image by Andreas Beuschel

On Sunday, May 25, at the 2014 Suzuki Association of the Americas Conference in Minneapolis, the Preucils were recognized for their contribution to the Suzuki world at large. This special tribute, titled “Doris and Bill Preucil: Inspiring a Musical Vision,” consisted of live speeches, video collages and music. Starting off the program was a violin-viola duo performed by Jeanne Preucil Rose (member of the Cleveland Orchestra and youngest daughter of the Preucils) and Mark Jacobs (SAA Conference viola clinician, member of the Cleveland Orchestra and Preucil School alum).

The speeches began with Tanya Carey (Chicago area cello teacher trainer) who addressed both Doris and Bill’s leadership roles within the Suzuki Association of the Americas and the International Suzuki Association. Tanya called attention to Doris’ goals as association president, including “clarifying, improving, and implementing a system for teacher training, striving for a higher level of excellence, and nurturing respect, cooperation, and understanding among our teachers.” She also shared Bill’s final reflections regarding his own board service: “The SAA’s history is about people. Time passes and another generation must gain its inspiration from the generation before. I have had the privilege to serve with outstanding people in a labor of love.”

James Maurer (retired professor of violin at University of Denver and violin teacher trainer) spoke next on the collegial influence the Preucils have had on his life, encouraging him to pursue Suzuki work at the advanced level. “They encouraged Jackie (Maurer) and me to do more and more. They gave us one little push after another, and always with kindness and love!”

Former Iowa citizan Jeff Cox (now chairman of the department of music and dance at University of Massachusetts–Amherst and violin teacher trainer) gave a brief tribute via the Japanese haiku poem, composing several 5–7–5 lines to reflect the impact of the Preucils both on his life and around the world. He concluded his tribute saying, “Their leadership is and always has been by example—their leadership is seen and felt in their enthusiasm, their commitment to excellence, their sensitivity to beauty. And their positive and transformational vision for the future—whether it is the amazing development of the Preucil School in Iowa City or all that they have done in support of Suzuki education.”

Recognizing Doris’ vast influence on the development of the violin teacher training curriculum, Ed Kreitman (director of Western Springs Talent Education Program and violin teacher trainer) highlighted aspects of excellence that have not only influenced his own career, but those of countless others: “She has tirelessly continued to share the message of Suzuki philosophy and Suzuki pedagogy to teachers across the country and the world. And at the same time, she has infused her pedagogy training with her own gorgeous violin playing . . . inspiring every teacher in the room to go home and try to emulate that sound. (At a recent course), I was so impressed with her clear teaching points, rapport with the demonstration students and teachers, beautiful demonstrations and complete knowledge of the violin repertoire and insights for developing the technique required to play that repertoire. Simply put . . . (it was) brilliant teaching!”

Viola teacher trainer Elizabeth Stuen-Walker spoke of the Preucils’ tireless work creating the Suzuki Viola Method, with Bill as the viola recording artist and Doris being editor, including expert re-voicing of the piano accompaniment books.

Two perspectives on mentoring were given by Kimberly Meier-Sims (director of the Sato Center for Suzuki Studies at the Cleveland Institute of Music, violin teacher trainer and former Preucil School faculty) and Christie Felsing (violin teacher trainer and Preucil School assistant director). Kimberly highlighted ten aspects of her time at the school saying, “As I look back, I realize that I had no idea now lucky I was to be part of the Preucil family and how my time in Iowa City would shape my future and open doors that I never thought possible.” Christie addressed three themes of life that are characteristic of both Doris and Bill: 1. their immense vision, 2. their preparation for now and for the future, and 3. their ability to establish a firm foundation to enable success to happen.

Jim Barber, Bill’s college roommate at Eastman School of Music, shared several fun stories from the past, including a reference to how Bill met Doris. Seven former students (Leah Zelnick, Suzanne Wagor, Beatrice Blanc, Janse Vincent, Brad Ottesen, Tim Peters and Clarisse Atcherson) shared tributes as part of a video collage. Leah recalled, “I remember the first time I met Mrs. Preucil and recall sensing a presence that emanated throughout the room.” And Brad said, “I think of Mr. Preucil every time I ask a student, ‘What does cantabile or grazioso mean?’ because they’re the very characteristics he most embodies.”

Nearly eight hundred were in attendance to honor this very special couple, with tables decorated with wrapped presents symbolizing the gift of music the Preucils have given to all of us. Near the finale, Pam Brasch presented a plaque that included the following enscription: “With deepest appreciation, we humbly accept the enduring gift of music you have so generously bestowed upon your students and the Suzuki community.” The hour-long celebration ended with a touching rendition of the violin-viola duo “Songs My Mother Taught Me,” performed by those members of the audience who had done teacher training with Doris and/or Bill at some point in their careers. On behalf of the association at large, we extend a big round of applause to the Preucils for their ongoing service in furthering Dr. Suzuki’s dream locally, nationally and internationally.

Following the tribute, Bill Preucil, Jr., led the SAA Conference violin master classes, featuring students playing Carmen Fantasy and concertos by Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn and Bruch. It was indeed a special treat for both teachers and students to experience this class with Bill Jr., concertmaster of the Cleveland Orchestra and recording artist of the Suzuki Violin CDs.

Sunday evening, the full Preucil family played a benefit concert for the SAA at Orchestra Hall. This beautiful concert opened with Walter Preucil and Arthur Rowe performing Silent Woods by Dvorak for cello and piano. Other selections included Cantabile for violin and harp by Paganini (Jeanne Preucil Rose and Anne Preucil Lewellen), Salzedo’s Song in the Night arranged for string quintet by Doris and the Moszkowski Suite with Bill Jr. and daughter Alexandra. Following intermission, Bill Jr. performed the Strauss Sonata with Arthur Rowe on piano. The program finished with a full stage of twenty-eight Preucil extended family members and past Preucil students/faculty presenting Remembrances by Preucil School alumnus Peter Bloesch. This unique piece combines several tunes, including Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and “Songs My Mother Taught Me.” It was originally composed for Doris’ retirement gala in 1998.

The sounds emanating from the stage during the evening will be remembered for years to come, and a big thank you goes to all members of the Preucil family for sharing their talents.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Preucil School’s August 2014 newsletter.