Eric Larry Phinney

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Eric Larry Phinney

Eric Larry Phinney, 57 of Voorheesville, NY passed unexpectedly while at his studio in Ghent, NY in early July.  Eric was a Master Percussionist, Music Educator, Performer, and devoted son.  He was born November 26, 1965 to Larry and Jean Phinney.

Eric’s strong musical upbringing started as a child in Voorheesville, NY under the tutelage of Leonard Tobler.  Growing up, Eric enjoyed sports and would often be out playing tag football, basketball, and ice-hockey with friends and skiing with his family.  He played in the Babe Ruth baseball league that his Dad coached.  Together, they would attend the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame games every year.  Eric was a Siena college basketball fan and enjoyed attending baseball and football games with his close friends and watching FIFA soccer games.  He would attend Columbia University football game near his Manhattan home.

After graduating from Voorheesville High School, Eric attended Manhattan School of Music where he earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Music.  He went on to study under several music masters which led him to perform around the world. 

In 1991, while working on his Master’s, Eric played a music festival abroad in Moscow with a group from Manhattan School of Music and they also performed in Tokyo.

He was one of the founding members of ETHOS Percussion Group and active with them for over 25 years.  ETHOS Percussion Group has performed at such venues as: The Library of Congress, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, London’s Wigmore Hall, Sun Valley Center for the Arts, the Bermuda Festival and have done numerous residencies, master classes, and clinics around the country.

His musical interests led him to study tabla under two major artists of Hindustani classical music.  He studied under Pandit Sharda Saha of the Benares tradition and Pandit Samir Chatterjee under the Farrukhabad tradition.  He was initiated as a disciple by both Masters thus continuing the traditional teacher/student lineage which dates back to the 18th century.  Eric also held two important positions as a grant writer, secretary, and core committee member of Chhandayan’s NY Chapter and took part in several table ensembles through Chhandayan. Eric also found interest the music of Ghana, West Africa, studying with master percussionist, Bernard Woma, teachers: Robert Levin, Emmanuel Agbeli, and at the Dagbe Center in Kopeyia, Ghana and took up traditional Gyil (xylophone) studies.  He performed as tabla soloist for the New York Philharmonic, St. Louis Symphony, and Cleveland Orchestra.

He was a faculty member at Bloomingdale School of Music, teaching artist with BAM and Young Audiences in NY, (YANY).

Eric performed with YoYo Ma and most recently with the Yumi Kurosawa Trio at the Smithsonian in DC .

ETHOS Percussion Group was currently working on an opera called: “The Sailmaker’s Wife” with composer Kristin Norderval for the National Opera America Center.  They had planned to travel to Norway to perform at the Vox LAB Music Theater Festival this fall.

Eric is preceded in death by his father, Larry Phinney.  He is survived by his Mom, Jean Phinney; his sister, Sonja (Craig); nephew, Peyton, niece Anjoli Johnston; Aunt, Joy (Peter) Dolan, Aunt Pat (Bud) Rodick, Uncle David Strieble, and Uncle Ned (Debbie) Phinney; cousins: Marty and Jason Strieble, Lisa Seymour, Barry Denton, Tim, Christopher, and Andrew Dolan and his faithful dog, Finn.

Eric was a beautiful, blessed soul who reached many people and cultures in his lifetime; touching many with his kindness, knowledge, and interests.  He will be greatly missed and forever remembered in our hearts.  In the words of one of his MSM mentors: “Eric you are an artist.” 

A graveside service will be held at the South Moriah Cemetery in Moriah, NY.  Celebrations of Eric’s life are being planned in the New York City.

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Private Interment

South Moriah Cemetery, Moriah


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