In the last few weeks I learned of the recent passing of Maestra J. Karla Lemon, a remarkable conductor, teacher and advocate of new music, and director of orchestral studies at Stanford University for ten years. My contact with Karla was brief but significant. Karla was on the faculty of the Henry Mancini Institute both summers I participated (2002 and 2004) as a conductor and adviser to the composer participants. She became a mentor to me when she learned of my interest and focus in orchestral conducting, and gave me a handful of private conducting lessons in the few weeks we had together. She had been slated to conduct my composition at a final concert in Royce Hall at UCLA but generously stepped down and offered me the chance to conduct the piece myself, while still providing coaching in preparing and rehearsing the piece. She remained a source of guidance for several years after.
Karla died last October following a stroke to correct a congenital heart condition. The Stanford Report provides more information on her life and contributions. A memorial concert will be held at Stanford University on May 21 and 22 of this year.