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Tribute to a friend

Posted on Mar 5, 2012
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Marjorie Rusch

Marjorie Rusch

When Marjorie Rusch, Class of '55, passed away last fall, her classmate Robert Koenig contacted the University Advancement Office to create a scholarship in her name. He wrote this tribute to his friend:  

In June 1955, the Superior Evening Telegram announced the top six honor graduates at Superior State College. Marjorie Louise Rusch headed the list with a double major in music and English. But Marjorie had been at the top long before, winning many awards at Superior Central High School where she played in the band and orchestra, sang in the a cappella choir, was treasurer of Coquina Club, won election to the student council and worked on the school newspaper. But imagine playing second flute in the Duluth Symphony Orchestra as a high school senior!

Marjorie received music scholarships for each of her four years at SSC, was named to the prestigious Owl and Serpent honor society, and was graduated with highest honors and also departmental honors in music.

After graduation, she taught instrumental music, mixed chorus, girl's chorus, band, ensemble groups, and one class of English at St. Croix High School in Solon Springs while continuing to play in the Duluth symphony. Only now, she was its first flutist.

Nonetheless, Marjorie was about to fulfill her next dream - study at Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., where she earned the master of music degree in music literature in 1958. While there she studied flute with Joseph Mariano, the school's most distinguished flute teacher,

Returning to the Midwest, Duluth Symphony conductor Hermann Herz wrote to her: "If you can obtain a position here or nearby, the old position in the Symphony is yours again…" But Marjorie had her sights on the Twin Cities, where she spent the rest of her life. And what a career she had.

Many of her years were spent playing flute with the Minneapolis Civic Orchestra. In 1969, Peter Altman wrote in the Minneapolis Star a review of the orchestra and the University of Minnesota Chorus as they performed the Verdi Requiem at Northrop Auditorium. Altman wrote: "the best in the orchestra came from the flutes, who are uncommonly important in this music. Adel Zeitlin and Marjorie Rusch consistently stood out discreetly from the ensemble…"

And Marjorie continued to stand out throughout her 33-year teaching career in St. Paul: three at Mechanic Arts, 18 at Murray and 12 at Como.

During those years, Marjorie directed 16 musicals. Some of her favorites were "Fiddler on the Roof," "The Music Man" and "Gypsy." She explained her love of musicals: "One of the differences in directing a musical as compared to a choir is the perspective of music that one doesn't get during choir rehearsals. It's a different contact other than in the classroom. And what do the students get out of being involved in a musical? The answer is quite clear - each student has a sense of responsibility to both himself and others. Again, the student also benefits from the different perspectives of drama and music."

On Nov. 30, 2011, Marjorie Louise Rusch left this world. A music scholarship will be awarded this spring by the UW-Superior Music Department. The scholarship is given by her 1955 classmate and friend The Rev. Dr. Robert A. Koenig. Marjorie's flute also is given to the Music Department in her memory.

The UW-Superior Foundation is accepting donations to the Marjorie Rusch Memorial Music Scholarship.


News Contact: Al Miller | 715-394-8260 | amiller{atuws}
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