- December 24, 2013
- Tempe, Arizona
of Robin's Passing
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“Only today I have learned about your passing away, Robin, and it has struck my as a great loss and at the same time it's impossible to admit that you...Read More »
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Robin Lynne Kissinger, 61, of Colorado Springs, CO died in Tempe, AZ on December 24, 2013, after a brief but valiant dance with pancreatic cancer. Born into a military family at Tyndall Field AFB, FL, on April 17, 1952, Robin was a trained concert pianist whose interests and accomplishments extended well beyond her professional career. She held strong spiritual beliefs that tied her to the Earth and to other people, to whom she was loyal and unfailing in her work.
Robin performed on major stages of the world including Budapest, London, Seoul and across the United States. A beautiful interpreter of the traditional chamber music repertoire, Robin also premiered a number of works written by major composers for her and her former husband, the late Hungarian cellist Mihaly Virizlay. After their concert in Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, reviewer Andrew Mikolajski (Strad Magazine) wrote, "These two [modern compositions by Joseph Castaldo] gave pleasure, radiant in sound and beautifully realized by this excellent duo." Robin and Virizlay's performances were recorded for radio station WJHU, the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, and for broadcast on Hungarian National Television.
Robin received her BA in Music from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1974 and her Masters of Music in Piano Performance from the University of Maryland, College Park in 1984. From 1986-2002, she taught piano and chamber music at Goucher College, volunteering much of her time to spreading music: she was instrumental in the growth and coaching of their opera workshop program; and she organized and led weekly "songfests" to, as one colleague wrote, "engage a segment of the college population that would otherwise go unserved. Her interests, energy, and creativity bring a breadth to the music department that gives us a visibility we would not otherwise have."
During her time at Goucher, Robin founded and led Polaris, a contemporary chamber music ensemble "dedicated to providing an experience of contemporary music that encourages audiences to make a connection between contemporary music and contemporary life." Following a Polaris performance of "Amores" by John Cage, The Baltimore Sun reviewer Robert Haskins wrote, "Ms. Kissinger successfully captured the sense of ecstasy so crucial to this music." Polaris offered five highly acclaimed seasons of exciting contemporary music programs to Baltimore and its surrounding areas.
Robin maintained a private teaching studio for over 40 years, coaching piano and voice and accompanying students both young and old, green and experienced. After moving to Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2008, Robin expanded her work of bringing music and singing to the community in which she lived by founding Sing 4 All, which offered local music workshops and a podcast on iRadio. Executive Producer of VoiceAmerica Mark Pace wrote that Robin's Sing 4 All work "brings a fresh perspective to the power and purpose of songs and singing in our lives and culture. Robin's vision and passion for enlightening others to the gift of singing and music as a transforming power is foundational to her work…When working with Robin, it is my belief you will be enriched and keenly more aware of 'transforming lives with the power of singing,'" which was her motto. The Colorado Springs Sing 4 All group still gathers to sing and play.
Beginning in 1997, Robin participated and drummed in 17 Naraya Dances in Maine, New York, and Utah "to perpetuate the healing and renewal of Mother Earth and all her people." Of Robin's participation, the Naraya Cultural Preservation Council wrote, "Drawn naturally to the power of music in the Dance she took her responsibilities around the drum seriously, and held the circle strong for dancers with her voice, whether on the drum or on the circle. In return the dance offered her a place to pray and clarity on her road of life—along with what truly became her theme song, Happy Trails."
The tiny house on wheels that Robin designed and lived in for the last two years of her life is a beautiful realization of her dream to be in harmony with the earth and leave no trace behind but tire tracks. She shared her journey building it so that others may follow on a blog, gypsyturtlejournal.com. Robin's eco-house, which she called "Gyrtle" for short, will be converted by her family into a residency program for artists and green design projects in Robin's memory.
Gyrtle's first "residents" are Trio Paradis, a joint venture Robin began with violinist Jerilyn Jorgenson and cellist Pam Chaddon in Colorado Springs, CO in March 2013 "to bring fresh excitement to the classical music scene on the Front Range in Colorado and new opportunities for audiences to experience great chamber music." They especially attract notice for introducing little known works by female composers. The trio's regular concerts at the Benet Hill Monastery in Colorado Springs will continue as the Songbird Memorial Concert Series, in tribute to Robin.
Robin's memory is held by many: her daughter, Lianna Kissinger-Virizlay, of Tempe, AZ; sister Alexandra (Kissinger) Florimonte of Santa Cruz, CA; brother Mark Kissinger of Colorado Springs, CO; brother David Kissinger of Sacramento, CA; her step-sons, David Virizlay of Los Angeles, CA and Stefan Virizlay of Metuchan, NJ; and an extended family of uncles and aunts, cousins and nephews, as well as her many, many friends.
Robin chose a green burial and rests under a desert Ironwood tree in El Mirage, AZ. She wrote, "I ask you each to hold me in your prayers, to see me in the glowing light of love and healing and to sing with joy that we have lives at this tumultuous time that are each in a perfect place to help bring about the change in consciousness that we need to heal this planet and change the direction of humanity—each of us in our own way, with our own gifts."