The William Kushner Connection
William David Kushner, clarinetist and, for 40 years, conductor of the Lake Charles Symphony, and a native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, died peacefully at home on March 11, 2012. He was 87 years old. The son of Sam Kushner and Lily Donn Kushner, he was born on March 14, 1924, and grew up with his brother, Donn, part of a large and remarkable Lake Charles family. After graduating from the Julliard School of Music in New York City, Mr. Kushner was a clarinetist with the Houston and New Orleans Symphonies, the New York City Opera and Metropolitan Opera orchestras in New York, and, in 1958, with the Lake Charles Civic Symphony, as it was then called. In 1967 Mr. Kushner became the conductor of the Rapides Symphony in Alexandria, Louisiana, which he led from 1968 until his retirement in 2002. From 1978 to 2008, he became conductor of the Lake Charles Symphony. Mr. Kushner taught music at McNeese State University for 17 years. He founded and owned Kushner Building Materials. He was a lifelong member of Temple Sinai in Lake Charles. During World War II, he served in the Army as a member of the Second Coast Artillery Band. In 1946, he married Sylvia Deutscher, a bassoonist, who died in 1990. Their three children, Lesley, Tony, and Eric survive him, along with his daughter-in-law Maighread McCrann and his son-in-law Mark Harris. He is also survived by his wife of 17 years, Marsha Kushner, his stepdaughter Laura Moise (Ed) and his stepson Mark Ford. Mr. Kushner is also survived by three nephews, Daniel, Roland and Paul Kushner, six grandchildren, Ciara and Orla Kushner, Madeleine and Lily Moise, and Natalie and Nicholas Ford, and a large and loving extended family.
Rosalie has a history of hosting classical music. It was a retreat for Maestro William Kushner decades ago as he established regional symphony orchestras in Lake Charles and Alexandria. Owners Hope and Tom Norman always welcomed their friend, who often brought great players with him for scheduled, or sometimes impromptu, performances. The music they produced is legendary.
" I recall that Bill directed a summer Chamber Music Festival weekend at Rosalie for about three years in the mid-1970s. It was inside at the house and included small ensembles mostly of RSO members and their musical associates from other places, in different combinations."
-- Hope Norman Coulter