Tag Archives: Juilliard School

Remembering Noah Witke

Noah Witke — the very talented Staples Players actor who thrilled audiences as Romeo in “Romeo and Juliet,” and starred in other productions including “The Laramie Project,” “The Diary of Anne Frank”  and “Twelve Angry Men” — died yesterday.

Noah Witke and Brittany Uomoleale, star-crossed lovers in "Romeo and Juliet." (Photo/Kerry Long)

Noah Witke and Brittany Uomoleale, star-crossed lovers in “Romeo and Juliet.” (Photo/Kerry Long)

A member of Staples High School’s Class of 2009, the Juilliard graduate was 25 years old. He was working with a theater company at the time of his death.

According to the New York Daily News, Noah was intoxicated when he fell off the roof of his 5-story Harlem apartment building at 5:10 a.m.

Noah Witke (Photo/Kerry Long)

Noah Witke (Photo/Kerry Long)

Staples Players director David Roth said, “(Co-director) Kerry Long and I were very close to him. Noah was not only a really good actor — he was also a kind, gentle spirit.

“He was so thoughtful of other people. He was a teaching assistant in Theatre I for 2 years, and was so great with one of our special needs kids. He partnered with him in a scene, one-on-one.

“Noah would have been a really good acting teacher. We are devastated by his loss.”

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

Noah Witke in one of several ensemble roles in "The Laramie Project." (Photo/Kerry Long)

Noah Witke in one of several ensemble roles in “The Laramie Project.” (Photo/Kerry Long)

Christopher Hanulik Plays “The Beast”

In Westport, the name “Hanulik” is well known, and much revered. John Hanulik — who died in 2005, at 71 — taught singing, band, orchestra and music theory to thousands of elementary, junior and senior high school students, for nearly 40 years.

In Los Angeles, “Hanulik” belongs to Christopher. Principal bassist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, he brings his father’s lessons — and his own inherited passion — to an international audience.

The Los Angeles Times recently profiled 4 members of the orchestra, in words and video. Hanulik had a leading role in the story, called “Tales of Obsession and Perfection.”

Christopher Hanulik (Photo/Los Angeles Times)

Christopher Hanulik (Photo/Los Angeles Times)

Hanulik — himself a Staples grad — and his fellow musicians are “at once perfectionists and realists,” the Times says, “chasing mathematical structures into beauty.”

They are also well paid. Principal players earn much more than the base salary of $150,124 — plus overtime.

But getting onto the Los Angeles Philharmonic stage is “tougher than winning admission to Harvard.”

Hanulik earned his spot in 1984 — fresh out of Juilliard. “He has steady hands and a boyish mischievousness,” the Times reports. But “over the years Hanulik, 51, has come to rely on muscle memory.” He calls his 25-pound instrument “the beast,” and notes:

I’ve got to be working scales and arpeggios to keep in shape. The bass is a physical instrument. Your body won’t let you do things you once could. It’s like an athlete. You have to guard against overuse, stress on ligaments and tendinitis.

His Italian bass is 265 years old. It cost $30,000 in 1987 — and is now worth $250,000.

The job of his section, Hanulik says, is to “lay down a sound as plush as a carpet,” for the rest of the orchestra to float upon.

Christopher Hanulik (far right) and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. (Photo/Los Angeles Times)

Christopher Hanulik (far right) and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. (Photo/Los Angeles Times)

In addition to his job with the Philharmonic — and their international tours — Hanulik teaches at UCLA, and privately. He’s also on the Aspen Music Festival faculty.

He worries about the future of classical music. It must venture in new directions — but not too far. Last year, the Seattle Symphony played with rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot.

“Do we really really need to be doing that?” Hanulik wonders. “How does that translate into coming to hear Beethoven’s Seventh?”

Meanwhile, back in Westport, a new generation of teachers — the successors to John Hanulik — does their best to inspire the next generation of Christopher Hanuliks.

(To see the video of Hanulik, click here. Hat tip: Dave Donovan)