Alumni Feature – David Chickering, Class of 1970

This edition of “Where Are We Now” is happy to feature Mr. David “Chick” Chickering, Class of 1970.  He’s been making Little Falls proud with his extensive travels as a premier cellist.  Chick, despite traveling far and wide, still feels strongly connected to his hometown.  He credits much of his success to the passion and enthusiasm of his early teachers and mentors.  His interview is full of names from his formative years and we truly hope you enjoy the trip down memory lane.

We first asked Chick to tell us about his experiences growing up in Little Falls.  He feels very lucky to have been a part of the community in the 50s and 60s. He clearly remembers his great neighbors, fantastic teachers and especially the musically vibrant community.  He says, “We were able to play baseball or football in the streets almost daily, the swimming pool was only a couple of blocks away along with the skating rink, and our older neighbors, the Maddalonis , the Krchniaks, and the Corettis were all quite tolerant of all of us kids.  At the end of the year, Grandma Coretti would give us back the balls that had found their way into her impressive garden by means of a home run.

Leon Dussault had founded the Little Falls Symphony, which he kept going for four decades.  The First Presbyterian Church, where our family attended services, was filled with music thanks to people like the Chases, Mrs. Eckler, Mrs. Spraker, the Ackermans, and many others.  Anson Nocera started me off on the cello and Frank Paine followed and developed a fine high school orchestra.  Donald Musella had great bands and Salvi’s kept us all supplied with instruments and music.  And we can’t forget that Mrs. Lowenstein developed a fine choir which was taken over by Mrs. Parr.  Joe Martuscello headed up a drama department that managed to put on a yearly musical complete with pit orchestra.  It was a perfect storm, really.”

Chick reminisced about his time at school.  He loved playing table tennis above the gym at noon.  He tells us about the masters up there like Neil Goldstein.  He loved accompanying the Senior High Chorus and helping Leon Dussault set up the Monday evening rehearsals of the Little Falls Symphony in the High School auditorium.

Chick struggled to identify just one favorite teacher among the many that shaped him.  He tells us, “It’s not easy to pick a favorite teacher; so many were excellent.  Mr. Kasner at Monroe St. School was great as was the other 5th grade teacher, Mr. Hosel who started a science club.  He would bring in road kill for us to dissect.   Mrs. Templeman, Mrs. Helterline, Mr. Zuccaro, Miss Smith…they were all great! Mr. Kotary, Mrs. Martyniuk, and Mrs. Guzewich were inspiring.  And Miss O’Neil and Miss Magill demanded the best from all their students and were supportive and terrifying at the same time.  Miss Kolcun paved the way for a relatively easy transition to Spanish.  We lost her to a certain Monsieur Guinot whom she met during a summer trip to France.  Mr. Kotary convinced us that “Knowledge was Power” which in today’s world, could translate to, “The answer is on Google”.  We were very fortunate.”

Growing up in Little Falls gave Chick the opportunity to learn from some of the finest musicians in NY.  Orchestras and bands, choirs, churches, school musical groups, supportive teachers and family all afforded him the chance to explore his interest in music in the 50s and 60s.

Following graduation from LFHS, Chick spent four years at Northwestern University with Dudley Powers, a former Principal Cellist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  He was so glad to have such a fine teacher to look up to.  He worked very hard to climb the musical ladder, starting at the very bottom playing during summer breaks.  He played with the Colorado Philharmonic, a repertory orchestra that played 3 different concerts a week for 8 weeks.  From there he spent time with the Santa Fe Opera which gave him his first big professional break.  He’s enjoyed posts in the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Orquesta Nacional de Costa Rica and the Auckland Philharmonia.  For the past 23 years, he’s been performing with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in Wellington.  He says, “I’m working my way down through the cello section of the NZSO.  I stepped down from the Principal Cello job several years ago and down again from the #2 job more than a year ago.  Two fantastic younger cellists have joined us.  I’ve warned the section that I’m going to retire when I reach 80.  There may be a contract out on me…”

His parting advice to future generations of LFHS graduates is, “Little Falls is small.  The world is big.  Regardless of where you go, Little Falls will always be with you.”

The Little Falls High School Alumni Network’s Where are They Now series was initiated in January of 2015.  This feature highlights individuals who have enhanced their lives and/or the lives of others using the foundation of the education they received at LFHS or St. Mary’s and the family values they developed while growing up in Little Falls.  Success isn’t always defined by financial achievements.  Many people find personal satisfaction by giving back to their communities, organizations or to others in general.  Those on the receiving end of these heartfelt contributions may consider this person in the highest regard as well.  With this being said, we are looking for individual nominations of Little Falls alumni who have made a difference in the lives of others as well their own.  Before submitting your nominations (to AlumniLFHS@gmail.com), please confirm your nominee is currently registered on the Little Falls Alumni Website as this is also a requirement.

Thank you and we look forward to reacquainting with our fellow classmates.

 

About AlumniLFHS@gmail.com

Chiropractor, Summit Medical Group, Berkeley Heights, NJ. Director of Alumni Communications, LFHS Alumni Network.

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