‘Generous of Spirit’: David Stock, 76, PSO’s composer-in-residence

‘Generous of Spirit’: David Stock, 76, PSO’s composer-in-residence

David Stock (Photo by Lindsay Dill)
David Stock (Photo by Lindsay Dill)

David Stock, a prolific musician who served as a composer-in-residence for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and was the founder of the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, died peacefully surrounded by his family on Monday, Nov. 2. He was 76.

Stock, who had been under the care of hospice, died following a brief illness due to a rare blood disorder, according to his son-in-law, Jonathan Mayo.

A native Pittsburgher, Stock grew up in Stanton Heights and graduated from Peabody High School.

Stock began writing music when he was 15 years old, then began his collegiate studies at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in the field of physics, “where I didn’t belong at all,” he said in a Chronicle interview in 2013. He soon transferred to music, which led to a distinguished career spanning many decades and touching a variety of different segments of Pittsburgh’s music community and beyond.

Stock was a longtime professor of musicianship at Duquesne University and composed works that were commissioned and performed by ensembles worldwide. In addition to serving as composer-in-residence with the PSO, he also took on that role at the Seattle Symphony as well as at the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony.

As a guest conductor, he appeared with Australia’s Seymour Group, Pound’s Capella Cracoviensis and Silesian Philharmonic, Mexico’s Foro Internacional de Musica Nueva, Eclipse (Beijing) and the PSO, among many others.  

His large catalog of compositions includes six symphonies, 10 string quartets, a dozen concerti for various instruments and compositions for dance, theater, television and film.

In November 1992, Stock received the Creative Achievement Award for Outstanding Established Artist from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

The PSO premiered his Sixth Symphony, a commissioned piece, during its season opener in 2013, and just last summer, the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble introduced his new work, “To Light the Dark.”

Jewish music significantly influenced Stock’s work for some 25 years, he told the Chronicle in 2013, beginning with a piece for clarinet and seven other players that included klezmer and liturgical music.

The “core” of his passion for Jewish music developed during his youth, beginning with his early years at Congregation B’nai Israel, and the influence of Cantor Mordecai Heiser, he said.

His passed down his affinity for Jewish music to several members of his family.

His daughter, Sara Stock Mayo, served for many years as a soloist and chaplain at Temple Sinai and continues to sing at a number of congregations in the area; his son, Jeffrey, is a cantor and chaplain in Boston, and Jeffrey’s wife, Hollis Schachner, is also a cantor; his daughter, Rachel Stock Spilker, is a cantor in St. Paul, Minn., and her husband, Adam Stock Spilker, is a rabbi.

Family was of primary importance to Stock, who frequently composed pieces for their various life-cycle events, including weddings, b’nai mitzvahs and baby namings, Mayo said.

“The thing that really stood out with David is that if he touched your life, you really became a part of his family,” Mayo said, adding that the result was a large, extended family tree. “If you were somehow connected to David, you were part of the family. He was a true patriarch in that regard. And he was so generous of spirit, which completely translated to all his family relationships.”

Stock is survived by his wife of 52 years, Celia Stock; children Jeffrey (Hollis Schachner) of Waltham, Mass., Rachel Stock Spilker (Adam Stock Spilker) of St. Paul, Minn., Sara Stock Mayo (Jonathan Mayo) of Pittsburgh; siblings Lee Stock (Barbara), Robert Stock and Ruth Stock Zober; and seven grandchildren.

Services were held at Ralph Schugar Chapel on Wednesday, Nov. 4. Interment was at the Pliskover Cemetery.

Contributions may be made to the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble (pnme.org), P.O. Box 111581, Pittsburgh, PA 15238.  

Toby Tabachnick can be reached at tobyt@thejewishchronicle.net.

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