HSU Distinguished Alumnus and World Renowned Trumpet Player Dies

HSU Distinguished Alumnus and World Renowned Trumpet Player Dies

By Janlyn Thaxton

 

 

 

One of the world’s leading trumpet players and recipient of the Hardin-Simmons University Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007 has died.Stacy Blair was heralded as one of the world’s leading trumpet soloists, performing in more than 50 countries. He was the winner of the prestigious Maurice André International Trumpet Soloist Competition in Paris, and twice won the International Trumpet Guild Solo Competition.{{more}}Legally blind since birth, Stacy learned to play trumpet by ear. His repertoire of over 160 trumpet concertos was memorized. Stacy attributed much of his success to HSU music professor, Bill Owens. In an article published in the Abilene Reporter-News in October 2007, Blair said of this mentor, “He taught me how to learn hymns and transpose, he was really my foundation.” Blair recalled of his days at HSU, “Everybody was so helpful. I felt like HSU was an extended family for me. So many people there blessed by life.”Lawson Hager, dean of the HSU School of Music, was Blair’s band director. Hager says Blair was an amazing student. “The things that Stacy lost due to his vision impairment were made up by his unique ability to memorize, almost upon a first hearing.” He had a keen sense of humor, says Hager. “Early on I asked him if he would be marching with the band. His comment, ‘Mr. Hager, put me between two guys that know where they are going and I will be fine.’ Stacy always had this type of attitude. Find humor in life and be the best person that you can be.” Hager says Blair was probably the best trumpet player he ever had the opportunity to work with. “As the trumpet soloist with the Concert Band and Cowboy Band, his performances were astounding,” says Hager. After graduating from HSU in 1977, Stacy earned a Master of Music degree from the University of Louisville then studied at the Paris Conservatory of Music on a Fulbright Scholarship. He received an Honorary Doctorate from Heidelberg University, Germany.He performed in concert with over 16 symphony orchestras, including the Israel Philharmonic, with Leonard Bernstein conducting, and with the Boston Pops. He also performed at Royal Albert Hall and the Kennedy Space Center. His CD, Stacy Blair with the Jean-François Paillard Chamber Orchestra, went “gold” in Europe several years ago. Stacy played at two National Prayer Breakfasts, and in 1984, he worked with the Billy Graham Crusade in Amsterdam. He appeared on television shows, including Good Morning America and The Tonight Show. Stacy was inducted into the International Hall of Fame for Persons with Disabilities in October 1998 by Texas Governor George W. Bush. In a declaration from the office of the governor, Bush said, “During the past two decades, you have fulfilled the dreams of many young musicians. I applaud you for the hard work and your talent…and commend you for your commitment to helping others.” Blair received the Helen Keller Visions for the Future Award in 1995, an award presented to people who serve as a role model and ambassador for others who are visually impaired.Blair did not limit his work to the concert stage. He frequently visited elementary schools where he spoke to students about the capabilities of people who suffer from blindness. He even produced an audio cookbook called Cooking Without Looking.Blair was born in Eastland on September 17, 1954. Both he and his twin brother suffered partial blindness. Blair was found dead in his Dallas apartment early Friday morning. A funeral services was held on Wednesday, September 22, at 2:00 p.m. at Edwards Funeral Home in Eastland.