As a long-time piano teacher at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Tomoko has connected with many talented musicians. One of them that she remembers fondly is baritone Hermann LeRoux.
Among other memories, Tomoko recalls his connections with Japanese students and the Japanese consulate. “He was easy to get along with because he was born outside the U.S.”
Hermann LeRoux was Dutch, born in Pretoria, South Africa in 1945. He studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, taught voice, and served as the chair of the music department between 1991 and 1997. He performed professionally, such as the baritone in Robert Moran’s work Holderlin, premiered at the Conservatory in 1972. LeRoux also wrote compositions, including “Reflections from Childhood in South Africa”, which he sang – and for which he helped produce as a CD in 1997 titled The Musician’s Gallery Concert.
LeRoux also directed the X-perimental Chorus, a 15-member music theater group in the Bay Area. Along with performing choral pieces written by composers from around the world, the group presented theater pieces and electronic music. They used improvisation, special effects and costuming to bring wit and humor.
LeRoux has a strong legacy in the form of his students’ success. Two of his students, Christine Abraham and Eun-Mee Ko, later joined the Conservaatory’s voice faculty. Another one of his students, Diego Garcia, composes music and oversees all musical expression at the Napa Valley Center for Spiritual Living. George Hernandez, who studied under LeRoux in the late 1980s, has sung with the San Francisco Opera since 1990, now teaches voice, conducts choruses, and composes.
In 2003 The Conservatory honored him at his retirement celebration in August 2007. He now lives in Grants Pass, Oregon.