The passing of Austin's "favorite piano teacher."

In Memoriam

If the pianos of Austin sound a little mournful this week, it's because one of their dearest friends -- and a friend to many musicians in this city -- has passed away. Pearl Amster was a New York City native who, after a notable career as a teacher and concert pianist, made her way to Austin and became a prominent figure on the local arts scene through the classes she taught, the performances she gave, the social events she hosted, and the music stores she operated, Amster Music and Art and Amster Piano Barn. Her death Friday, September 22, at the age of 83, brought a close to a career of noteworthy musical accomplishments and extraordinary longevity, one which included a debut performance at New York's Town Hall at the age of 16; the first artist diploma from the National Guild of Music and Teachers to be awarded to a woman; studying with celebrated teachers Rose Raymond and Roslyn Tureck; a performance in Steinway Concert Hall at Carnegie Hall; a 28-year run of hosting monthly soirees for local artists, university students, and visiting musicians; a CD of her playing the piano, recorded on her 80th birthday; and, of course, touching the lives of countless musicians and music lovers through the lessons and intimate gatherings she provided in her home. She was also quite active outside her home, volunteer ushering for performances at Capitol City Playhouse, Zachary Scott Theatre Center, the Paramount, and the UT Performing Arts Center, and serving on the board of the Violet Crown Players and the Austin Civic Orchestra. Her association with this latter company prompted it to name its annual concerto competition in her honor. Gustav Amster, her husband of 45 years, preceded her in death in 1986. She is survived by her daughters Karen and Nancy, both of Austin, and their husbands, Peter Janson and Lee Owen, respectively; seven grandhildren and four great-grandchildren. A service to celebrate her life and music is being planned; to learn more about it, contact Matthew Kaplan at Donations may be made to the Civic Orchestra in the name of the Pearl Amster Fund, which provides scholarships for winners of the Pearl Amster Concerto Competition. Send gifts to: PO Box 27132, Austin, TX 78755. The CD Pearl Amster: An Inspired Collection is available on ViewPoint Records at

Art Travels IV

If you're suffering through "Olympic fever" stateside, you might want to take a pass on this item. Among the local artists and expatriates who are making their mark around the globe is singer and actor Amy Stinson, late of Austin and headed for New York. Upon leaving the city in July, she landed a job with the Radisson Seven Seas Cruise line, entertaining on the cruise liner Navigator. She spent five weeks in Cocoa Beach, Florida, rehearsing, then zipped across country to San Francisco, where she boarded the ship to sail to -- you guessed -- Sydney, Australia, for the Olympics. Via e-mail, she writes that the cast with which she's working "is amazing -- talent-wise and great fun." Her contract runs through February 2, requiring her to suffer through visits to Auckland, Singapore, Bali, Hong Kong, Honolulu, L.A., Fort Lauderdale, Key West, Cozumel, and the Grand Caymans. Eventually, she'll abandon this cruise ship whirl for her prior plans to study voice in Minnesota and ultimately move to NYC, but she promises to come back to Austin for a spell before that happens. And we know she's good for that promise: She's set to play Frasquita in Austin Lyric Opera's environmental Carmen in May.

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More Articulations
The Harry Ransom Center has acquired all the professional and personal materials of profoundly influential acting teacher Stella Adler

Robert Faires, April 30, 2004

It's the end of an era for the city of Austin's Art in Public Places Program as Martha Peters, administrator of the program for 11 of its 18 years, departs to direct a public art program in Fort Worth.

Robert Faires, July 18, 2003


Pearl Amster, Amster Music and Art, Amster Piano Barn, Rose Raymond, Roslyn Tureck, Violet Crown Players, Austin Civic Orchestra, Pearl Amster Concerto Competition, Pearl Amster: An Inspired Collection, Amy Stinson, Austin Lyric Opera

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