Saturday concert to honor late Vancouver musician, teacher


photoTimoteus Racz

If you go

What: “Hello Dolly” conducted by Ron Frasier.

When: 7 p.m. May 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12; 1 p.m. May 5.

Where: Mountain View High School, 1500 S.E. Blairmont Drive.

Cost: $10 for adults and students without ASB; $8 for seniors, children younger than 12 and students with ASB.

With his neatly trimmed beard and dapper European suits, Timoteus Racz made a memorable impression when he conducted the Junior Symphony of Vancouver.

The accomplished concert violinist, composer, conductor and beloved music educator died April 2 after suffering a heart attack. A May 5 memorial concert will honor Racz, 55, who for almost 20 years influenced Northwest classical musicians, from individual students to chamber groups.

Shortly before his death, during a lesson on musical scales with 6-year-old Zuzu Hunziker, Racz spontaneously began composing an eight-measure song with the girl. Zuzu’s father, Cameron Hunziker, witnessed the magical moment when what he calls “Zuzu’s Song” was born.

“Tim was very creative in working with Zuzu,” Hunziker said.

A Hungarian born in Cluj, Romania, Racz emigrated in 1984 to study music at DePaul University. Later, when he was touring with the United States International Orchestra, he met a redheaded oboist named Victoria, who soon became his wife.

He founded and directed the Oregon Chamber Players, and with his wife he founded the Junior Symphony of Vancouver in 1999. From his downtown Vancouver shop, Racz European Violins, he repaired and sold violins and taught lessons to hundreds of students during his career.

“Timoteus’ legacy will live on through his students, families and all he touched,” said Kathy Partin, the mother of two of Racz’s former students and JSV members.

An Oregon Chamber Players memorial concert in honor of Racz is 7:30 p.m. May 5 at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 4033 S.E. Woodstock Blvd., Portland. In lieu of admission, donations will be accepted in an effort to ensure that Racz’s legacy will live on through the Junior Symphony of Vancouver and the Oregon Chamber Players. Visit Oregon Chamber Players.

Donations may be made to the Timoteus Racz Fund at Wells Fargo Bank, 1800 Main St., Vancouver, 98660.-- Susan Parrish

"Hello Dolly" prompts another comeback for retired teacher

Lyrics from “Hello, Dolly” seem apropos to Ron Frasier’s musical comeback:

“It’s so nice to have you back where you belong. … You’re still glowin’, you’re still crowin’, you’re still goin’ strong.”

Twenty-five years ago, Ron Frasier, then a vocal music and theater teacher at Fort Vancouver High School, directed Vancouver School District’s citywide production of “Hello, Dolly.”

He retired from full-time teaching in 1991, but he didn’t spend his days perfecting his golf swing. Instead, he continued teaching music at Mountain View High School and the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics. He also continued directing the Vancouver USA Singers, a gig he had for almost 20 years. Two years ago, he finally, really, retired when he passed the baton to the new director.

Frasier, now 76, has come out of retirement one more time to conduct Mountain View High School’s production of “Hello, Dolly.”

What persuaded him to dust off his baton again?

His friend, Jeannette James, who is doing the vocal direction for the performance, asked him to consider conducting.

“We have a vibrant Dolly who brings that character to life, and a great curmudgeon character, Horace Vandergelder,” he said.

“These are hard times. Everything about this musical is ‘up.’ People will leave the theater with a good feeling, singing these melodies.”-- Susan Parrish