Enjoyed multi-faceted international career: performer, composer, teacher
Raymond Premru, professor of trombone died at the age of 63 on Friday, May 8, 1998, at the Cleveland Clinic. He had been fighting esophageal cancer for a year. Recipient of a 1997 Cleveland Arts Prize and an Oberlin faculty member since 1988, Premru enjoyed an accomplished international career as a composer, teacher, and performer.
"Professor Premru was among the most brilliant of our faculty," said Dean of the Conservatory Karen Wolff. "Not only was he a gifted artist and teacher, he was a composer of considerable musical and technical stature. Students and colleagues found him to be a kind and compassionate friend who was utterly devoted to the interests of the Conservatory. He will be greatly missed."
A memorial service was held at the First United Methodist Church in Oberlin on Wednesday, May 13. A memorial concert featuring X,Y, Z was held at the Conservatory Sunday, September 13.
A native of Elmira, New York, Premru earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music in 1956, and a Performer's Certificate in trombone and composition from the Royal College of Music in 1957. His training included trombone study with Emory Remington and composition study with Bernard Rogers and Peter Racine Fricker. He served as bass trombonist with the Philharmonia Orchestra of London for 30 years, from 1958 to 1988, as well as performing regularly with the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble, and London Brass (from 1964 to 1988). He served as guest bass trombonist with many prominent ensembles including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, Akron Symphony Orchestra, Canton Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Academy of St. Martin's in the Fields, and English Chamber Orchestra.
Premru played trombone on the legendary Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album as well as with the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, and Frank Sinatra. He can also be heard on recordings with Oscar Peterson, Petula Clark, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, and Mel Torme.
Additional activities included co-directing the Bobby Lamb/Ray Premru Big Band, and conducting Le Domaine Forget Brass Ensemble (Quebec, Canada) from 1989 to 1990. He had appeared as guest conductor with the Eastman Trombone Choir, Philharmonia Orchestra of London, London Festival Orchestra, Eastman Wind Orchestra, and Cleveland Trombone Choir. A generous teacher and adjudicator, Premru maintained an active itinerary of workshops, residencies, master classes and competitions that took him to locations throughout North America and the world.
An active composer as well, Premru was the recipient of numerous commissions, including two, his Concerto for Orchestra composed in 1976 for the American Bicentennial, and his Second Symphony, written for the Cleveland Orchestra. Among Premru's other compositions are the Concerto for Trumpet, commissioned by the International Trumpet Guild (ITG) in 1983, and the Concerto for Tuba and Orchestra, commissioned by the Tubists Universal Brotherhood Association (TUBA) in 1992 in memory of John Fletcher.
Before coming to Oberlin, Premru served on the faculties of the Eastman School of Music, and Guildhall School of Music.
A scholarship fund is being established in his memory at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.