August 28, 2017
Born in Cicero, IL
Resided in Palenville, NY
Jay was born in Cicero, IL. At the age of 7 he began music and piano lessons with the noted Czech violin and piano duo, Ada & Jan Gregor. His composing evolved from his first exposure to music.
When he entered high school he also began studying composition at the Sherwood Music School in Chicago. While in high school he composed a full-length opera, Coatan, based on the first English settlers in America. The work was performed by a student orchestra, chorus and principals and was subsequently broadcast (for propaganda reasons) by the “Voice of America” to iron curtain countries.
Jay continued his studies at the Eastman School where his teachers included Louis Mennini, Thomas Canning and Howard Hanson. He received scholarships to Tanglewood and there worked with Roger Sessions and Boris Blocher.
His work at the opera department of the Eastman School enabled him to become a coach and stage director of the Metropolitan Opera, and in the same capacity he worked in Berlin and throughout Germany and Switzerland. This experience gaive him a thorough background in all the practical disciplines of opera composition and production.
Leaving Europe for a post at the Santa Fe Opera, he decided to concentrate on writing. Armed with Rockefeller and BMI grants, he wrote two operas, Chillon and The Haunted. These were given readings by the Metropolitan Opera Studio and resulted in commissions for other works, including Pantomime, a one act opera which received its first performance at the Toledo Opera in 1996.
Jay moved to Palenville in the 1970’s and formed (in partnership with his librettist Harrison Somers) the Pine Orchard Artists Festival, a summer-long opera and chamber music venue.
His companion of 40 years, Harrison Somers died in 2005. Jay is survived by many dear friends and neighbors.
Calling hours will be held on Thursday from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m. at Millspaugh Camerato Funeral Home, 139 Jefferson Hgts., Catskill. A memorial service will be conducted by Rev. John E. Miller at Gloria Dei Church, 3393 Rout 23A, Palenville on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Contributions may be made to a charity of your choice.
Catskill, NY USA 12414
Palenville, NI 12463