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In Memory

Elaine 'Scotty' Banks

Elaine Scott Banks, born in Philadelphia, came to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music to major in cello.  She also played the viola da gamba, went on to receive a master’s degree in choral conducting, and became professor of cello and choral conducting at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

In 1981 “Scotty” moved to Chicago as assistant principal cello of the Lyric Opera orchestra.  Then in 1985, drawing on some of the finest Baroque musicians from the Midwest, she founded The City Musick to perform 18th-century orchestral and choral repertory in a historically informed manner.

From a 1987 article:  “Conducted by one of Chicago's most intelligent musicians, Elaine Scott Banks, The City Musick has put Chicago on the early music map in terms of authentic-instrument performance. This sparkling ensemble peels centuries of misconception off of baroque works like grime off a Rembrandt. Their season finale is a real stunner: the American original-instrument premiere of Mozart's Requiem.”

But the group lasted only five seasons.  Bitter disputes with the board of directors and a deficit of over $100,000 led Banks and her companion, executive director Merrilee A. Nelson, to resign in 1990.  They moved to Seattle, where Scotty was diagnosed with cancer in 1992.  She died at the age of 48 in 1995, survived by a sister.

(Compiled from the Chicago Tribune)





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04/16/19 08:44 AM #1    

Stephen Easter

I was saddened to read that Scotty Banks has passed on. I still remember her verve and stamina, and her outstanding musicianship as a cellist in the Oberlin College Choir travelling concerts of 1968 and 1969. She can be heard on vols. 18 and 19 of the Choir's recordings, both of which were performeed under the dirction of Dean Robert Fountain. Those tours were some of the best musical experiences of my life. Go well, Scotty!

04/16/19 02:29 PM #2    

John Kramer

I remember seeing Scotty walking with Robert Krulwich, deep in conversation, and wanting to meet this intense, sparkling woman.  I got my chance when I was hospitalized for mono junior year, and she was there as well for some reason.  I don’t recall the substance of our talks, but I was feeling low and sorry for myself, and she more than anything helped pull me up.  She was quicksilver, a wonderful spirit.  I am so sorry she is gone.

04/16/19 07:15 PM #3    

Tory Schmitz

Scotty was next to Terry Pickett and me in Talcott freshman year.  I had a record player and she would get records from the Con and play them with excited commentary in our room.  I also remember her fixing her coffee with about 5 sugars and 5 creams, quite a ritual to watch. This photo is probably from spring of 1966.

04/17/19 05:12 PM #4    

Terry Winston (Pickett)

I don't remember Scotty's coffee ritual, as Tory does, but I DO remember Scotty's vitality, that could take your breath away.  It was at Scotty's recommendation that I bought the Budapest String Quartet's recording, with Walter Trampler on the Viola, of Mozart's String Quintets in G minor and C major, one of my most beloved recordings to this day.  And, if memory serves, Tory bought William Byrd's Mass for 5 Voices, which we played over and over.  And over.  I'm so glad Scotty was a part of our lives.

04/24/19 10:15 PM #5    

Victoria Howard (Myers)

Scotty was my freshman year roommate in Talcott; 2 cellists, in a long, skinny room.  Mainly, I remember Scotty's intense passion for music and her continual interest in sharing what she was learning with me.  Sometimes, when listening to certain pieces, she could not contain her physical response to it.  I had a wonderful recording of the Bach Brandenburg concertos to which we both listened over and over.  The motor rhythms in this recording (sorry, forgot which one it was) were so compelling that Scotty would often come over and punch me in the arm with each beat!  She felt it in the bottom of her soul and could not help but share that with me.  I was glad that she was able to do so much with her passion and talents after Oberlin but saddened that the world lost this phenomenal musician so soon......

04/25/19 12:02 PM #6    

Lorna Forbes

Oh, Scotty!  I had not known of her death, 14 years ago now.  I love reading classmates' memories of her extraordinary vitality and profound living out of her passion for music which, in those days, I was unprepared to fully understand and tune into.  However, what I remember, is her amazing wit and infectious sense of humor, which leavened my days and nights many a time as we encountered each other in Talcot's 3rd Floor bathroom.  For a period of time, there was one toilet that was flushing continuously, and this caused us unending amusement, even after it was fixed.  We developed a whole series of fantasies about "The Eternaflush Company."  Just thinking about Scotty makes me smile.  She was luminous and charismatic on many levels.

05/12/19 06:27 PM #7    

Wendy Forbush

Scotty freshman year in Talcott.  She frequently bopped  into Marialyce's and my room , bringing her enthusiasm and energy . I was mesmerized as she sat on the bed, some music in her head ---  the fingers of one hand moving to one meter , while fingers of the other hand  moved to a different meter.  For me, who can only follow in dance if there is one very stong bass , this  ability was incomprehensibIe.   It  was via  Scotty that I came to appreciate the brilliant,  albeit different,  minds, talents, and incredibly disciplined  hard work of  our conservatory  classmates. 



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