Bassist, teacher Herchenroder mourned 

Jeffrey Herchenroder ​

From Jeffrey Herchenroder’s Facebook page 

Jeffrey Herchenroder ​

GUILDERLAND — Jeffrey Herchenroder, string teacher and orchestra leader in the Guilderland schools since September 1998, died unexpectedly Saturday, according to Superintendent Marie Wiles.

Herchenroder was also a bassist in the Albany Symphony Orchestra for 33 years and had retired from that job last fall. 

“I am so shocked and saddened by this news. Jeff was such a wonderful human being, an inspiring teacher, colleague, and friend. We will all miss him terribly,” wrote Albany Symphony Orchestra conductor David Alan Miller on Facebook. 

At a concert last fall, the symphony had recognized Herchendroder for his many years of musicianship. Herchenroder had started playing the bass in fourth grade in Farmingdale, Long Island “rather by chance when he was the tallest boy left in his class who had not yet chosen an instrument,” said a tribute last year in an Albany Symphony Orchestra newsletter. 

Wiles said this week that Herchenroder was working this school year at Lynnwood and Westmere elementary schools, handling all of the stringed-instrument lessons there and conducting each of the orchestras at those schools. He was also teaching some of the strings players at the high school, she said. Over the years, Herchenroder had worked at six of the district’s seven schools, Wiles said in a tribute to him at the Feb. 11 school board meeting.

Wiles told The Enterprise his death was “a devastating loss” for the music department and for all of his colleagues throughout the district. 

Shannon Woodley, band teacher at Lynnwood and Pine Bush elementary schools, told The Enterprise, “Jeff was a superior musician who gave everything he had to his students. He was a truly unique man who was passionate about so many things, including his family, students, music, and the world around us.” 

Herchenroder had been an advocate for music programs. In 2011, as Guilderland, facing reduced state aid, proposed a budget that cut 44 jobs and scores of programs, Herchenroder spoke to the school board about the importance of maintaining the music programs and called Guilderland school taxes “an excellent investment and an excellent return for the money.”

At the high school, on Monday morning, Wiles said, teacher Susan Curro and some of her colleagues called all of the orchestra students for a meeting, where the teachers told them about Herchenroder’s death, which the district had also announced online on Sunday. 

Counselors, school psychologists, and social workers were made available in each of the district’s school buildings, Wiles said, to provide support to anyone who might need it. 

Betsy Bunday, whose son studied with Herchenroder at Lynnwood Elementary School, spoke of Herchenroder’s creativity and called him a “monumental influence.” She told The Enterprise that Herchenroder wrote or arranged much of the music that his elementary-school orchestras played. “He wrote or arranged it so it was incredibly harmonic and orchestral. The instruments would often have rounds or parts, like an opera.” 

Bunday continued, “He was a true artist, but he was practical enough to be a teacher for two decades. We were lucky to have such talent.”

The Albany Symphony tribute quotes Herchenroder himself as saying of his retirement, “I am grateful, honored and proud of my many years playing in the ASO and of the enormous and varied musical experience it has given me and the audiences of the Capital Region. Hopefully this will give some young musician the opportunity to embark on another 33-year career.”

On the Facebook page of the Musicians of the Albany Symphony Orchestra, Michelle Stewart wrote, “I am so sorry to hear this news. The music world will miss his beautiful playing.” 


More Guilderland News

  • As always, village officials stressed that the numbers presented at Altamont’s first budget workshop of the year are still very preliminary. 

  • Speaking about the white Minneapolis police officer who knelt on a cuffed George Floyd until he was dead, Altamont Police Todd Pucci was unequivocal, “That officer should go to jail; what he did was murder.”

  • Altamont Treasurer Catherine Hasbrouck told the board of trustees last year that water-and-sewer rates had to be raised so the village could collect another $100,000 per year for general operations and maintenance.

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