Educator, Edmonds orchestra founder dies at 94

EDMONDS — Robert Anderson, founding Cascade Symphony Orchestra conductor and longtime head of music education in the Edmonds School District, died Friday. He was 94.

Anderson had been planning to attend the final concert of the Cascade Symphony’s season on Monday, a 50th anniversary event to be played in his honor. Following his death, however, the concert was dedicated to his memory.

Anderson founded the community orchestra in April 1962 and conducted its first concert on June 4, 1962, with a 60-member orchestra following his baton. He led the orchestra for 30 years.

Anderson taught music in the Edmonds School district from 1952 to 1966 when he became the music education coordinator for the district. He retired in June 1974. During his service, Anderson made sure that music education became an important part of the district’s curriculum. The Edmonds School District continues to be recognized as one of the best places in the country to get a public school music education.

Charter members of Cascade Symphony were recognized at the Monday concert in Edmonds. Among them were those who had played all 50 years, including cellist Norma Dawson Dermond and violist Kathy Dawson Moellenberndt.

For the Dawson sisters, including their sister violinist Ellen Dawson Lund, the death of Anderson is personal.

He was their teacher and friend and he got them to join Cascade as teenagers. Anderson gathered together many musicians in the area who he knew could handle the repertoire of professional orchestras.

The sisters, who still live in south Snohomish County, remember Anderson as a man with high standards who expected hard work, but who could also make fun of himself.

“He was not self-conscious. During orchestra rehearsals, if there was a missing part, he would sing it in this horrible, cracking voice and then grin,” Dermond said. “He was 100 percent real.”

The concert Monday, under the direction of Michael Miropolsky, included Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, with a choir directed by Anderson’s longtime friend and fellow music teacher Frank DeMiero. With “Ode to Joy,” those musicians who knew Anderson celebrated what he had created, Moellenberndt said.

“It was an emotional, bittersweet concert,” Dermond said. “We loved Bob dearly. He gave such a gift to us without thinking about what was in it for him, except the satisfaction of a job well done.”

It was all about the greater good, Moellenberndt said.

“He sowed the seeds, and now countless people — musicians and audience members — have benefited from his vision for music education,” Moellenberndt said.

Anderson was proceeded in death by his wife Georgia in 2002. He is survived by his daughter Carol Anderson of Bellingham, son Donn Anderson of Puyallup and brother Harold Anderson of Camano Island.

Anderson was born in Nome, Alaska. He graduated from Lincoln High School in Seattle and the University of Washington. Her served as a bandmaster in the Army during World War II.

A memorial concert is being planned by DeMiero for the fall.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Video shows man suspected of attacking a woman in Edmonds

The man allegedly threw her on the ground, then ran away after the she began kicking and screaming.

Former Monroe cop loses appeal on sex crimes conviction

Once a highly respected officer, he was found guilty of secretly videotaping his kids’ babysitter.

Suspect sought in two Everett bank robberies

He’s described as 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-1, with dark hair and a goatee, and may have a neck tattoo.

Navy to put filter in Coupeville’s contaminated water system

Chemicals from firefighting foam was found in the town’s drinking water.

Two missing men found, one alive and one dead

The man found alive was found in an apartment across the hallway and taken to a hospital.

Darrington School Board dealing with upheavals

The crux of the controversy seems to be the superintendent’s job.

Alaska Airlines has selected destinations for new service from Paine Field. (Alaska Airlines)
Alaska Airlines will fly from Everett to 8 West Coast cities

Two destinations that didn’t make the list were Spokane and Hawaii.

Train kills man who was trying to get off tracks in Monroe

The conductor said he attempted to stop after sighting the man, who’d been lying on the rails.

Roommate suspected in Edmonds killing found hiding in closet

Police had been searching for him for 10 days before locating him at a house in Everett.

Most Read