Isabel GallagherFlutist, Teacher and Friend
1940 - May, 2011
By Megan Lyden
It is with great sadness that the Seattle Flute Society acknowledges the passing of former Seattle Flute Society president Isabel Gallagher. Isabel died in a car accident in Ontario, Canada, after visiting one of her former flute students. Isabel was an outstanding flutist who performed as a soloist, an orchestra member, and as a chamber musician on both flute and piano. Isabel will be remembered by her many friends, students and colleagues as a dedicated musician, an esteemed teacher and as a kind and generous friend.
Born in Puerto Rico in 1940, Isabel grew up mainly in Brooklyn, New York. Isabel began piano lessons when she was a young child; around the age of ten she also began studying the flute; her teachers included the legendary flutists Frederick Wilkins, Samuel Baron, John Wummer and Paige Brook. At the age of 14, Isabel successfully auditioned for the New York All City Orchestra; with them she performed as soloist in the Bach Suite in B minor in Carnegie Hall.
Isabel attended the Manhattan School of Music, where she received a scholarship to study flute with Frances Blaisdell. Isabel remained good friends with Blaisdell until the latter's passing in 2009. In addition to receiving her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the Manhattan School, Isabel was also awarded the prestigious Harold Bauer Award (1959), which is given to promising pianists. She also became certified to teach music in New York State.
In 1962, Isabel came to Seattle with her former husband, Bernard Shapiro, when he became principal oboist of the Seattle Symphony. In addition to raising a family, Isabel became a highly regarded member of Seattle's musical life: she taught flute at Cornish College for the Performing Arts, Western Washington University, Seattle Community College and Seattle University. She was a member of the Cornish Woodwind Quintet, the Seattle Opera Orchestra (1967-71) and piccoloist with the Seattle Symphony (1969-71). Eventually, she relocated to Montreal, Canada, and then to Ithaca, New York. During those years she taught flute at Concordia University and Vanier College in Montreal, as well as at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
In the early 1990s, Isabel returned to Seattle with her partner, the late William Gallagher, when he began working for Boeing. She lived on Mercer Island; for more than thirty years she taught flute to hundreds of students who came to the island to study privately with her. Additionally, Isabel adjudicated music competitions, had several articles published in music journals and was president of the Seattle Flute Society (1994-97). In 1997, Isabel was invited by composer/conductor Dorothy Klotzman (her friend since high school from the New York All City Orchestra) to be Ensemble Director for the Academy of Music Northwest. In 2001, Isabel "retired" from the Academy to enjoy an enriched personal life and to do more traveling.
In addition to music, Isabel had a flair for languages. She knew both French and Spanish, and even traveled to Guatemala as part of a Spanish language immersion program. She loved to cook and entertain; she was a delightful hostess.
Isabel continued to be very involved in chamber music to the end of her life, often performing with her long-time partner, composer/violinist and retired physician, Dr. Bernard Gondos, whom she met at a chamber music workshop in Spain. Bernie was from Santa Barbara, which became a second home to Isabel; she and Bernie frequently performed for the Santa Barbara Musical Club. When in Seattle, Isabel continued to perform at Seattle Flute Society events. She was also a member of SONOS Chamber Music; many of the programs she played with SONOS were fund-raisers for Seattle churches providing outreach for those in need. She and Bernie traveled extensively and had a wide circle of friends in both Seattle and in Santa Barbara.
The Seattle Flute Society extends its condolences to Isabel's family: her daughter Stephanie Shapiro, her son-in-law Travis Crone, Travis' son, Mathew Crone, Isabel's grandchildren, Daniel and Sarah Crone, her son Alan Shapiro and daughter-in-law Sandy Shapiro, her partner Bernard Gondos, as well as to her many friends, students and colleagues.
Megan would like to thank Stephanie Shapiro, Dee Wells, Roberta Goldman, and Germaine Morgan for their help in writing this article.