Playing On and On
The Marlboro community near and far was saddened in May by the death of Luis Batlle, world-renowned pianist and beloved Marlboro faculty member for 30 years. The outpouring of love for Geri and the rest of his family has been a testament to his impact on the community. True to Luis’ kind and generous nature, his memory will continue to live on in the generosity of others through the Luis C. Batlle Chair in Music.
“Luis’ generosity was on so many levels,” said music professor Stan Charkey, who worked alongside Luis for all of his 30 years at Marlboro. “He was generous in how many concerts he did for the community, generous with his students. If a student was having trouble, he was there for that student.”
This was just as true for students who didn’t study music, but who got to know Luis through conversations in the dining hall, at a picnic table, and over games of bridge at Luis and his beloved Geri’s house. “Although it seemed perfectly normal at the time, looking back I can’t believe the hours he spent playing cards with us,” says Sarah Clymer Ducharme ’91, who did her Plan in literature and drama with Geri. “What a gift to have shared such times with him.”
“Luis exemplified the Marlboro community,” says Randy George ’93. “He was a good friend to many, many students. And this is to say nothing of his life as a renowned musician and a teacher to so many. He did those things because they were his passion, but to me he was, first a foremost, a wonderful human being.”
“Wherever he went, people smiled and laughed, and as a very young man almost 10 years ago, I found that beautiful and inspiring beyond measure,” says Rohan Agarwal ’06.
“Luis enjoyed and valued people more than anyone I’ve ever known,” says retired cultural history professor Dana Howell. “He always seemed to me the most broad-minded of men. He knew the world and he wanted to be in it. He took in everything, from the stars to the last bite of one of those fabulous chocolate desserts that Geri made. I never saw him turn away. He didn’t waste a moment of life.”
In addition to countless solo performances and collaborations, Luis organized an annual concert to benefit Morningside Shelter for several years, netting thousands of dollars for the homeless in Brattleboro. That characteristic generosity was the inspiration for a concert in Luis’ honor last April, featuring celebrated pianists Peter Serkin and Julia Hsu, to benefit the Luis C. Batlle Chair in Music. The torrent of love for Luis at that concert, his last visit to the college, and the continued support for the endowed chair in his name ensure that his legacy will provide vital support to the college for years to come.
The Marlboro Music Festival dedicated a concert to Luis’ memory on July 30, and Marlboro College will present a series of concerts dedicated to him through fall 2016 (see marlboro.edu/events for details). There will also be a celebration of Luis’ life during the college’s Alumni Days, on October 8. See a full memorial.