Colleagues, Students Remember Arkady Fomin, Longtime Musician, Ensemble Director

Arkady Fomin

Arkady Fomin

Arkady Fomin, director of UT Dallas’ String Ensemble and longtime artist in residence at the University, passed away Monday. He was 68.

A celebration of his life was held Thursday at the Sparkman Hillcrest Chapel in Dallas.

“Arkady will be remembered as a gifted musician, an inspiring teacher and a good person. Our hearts go out to his family,” said Dr. Dennis M. Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities. “I treasure the opportunities that I had to hear Arkady perform with the Clavier Trio, watch him conduct the New Conservatory Orchestra, listen to him explain how to improve the quality of our music program and to be his friend.”

Fomin was born in Riga, Latvia, where he studied at the Latvian State Conservatory. He played with the Latvian State Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Latvian Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra. In 1975, he joined the Dallas Symphony Orchestra to play in the first violin section — a role he kept for nearly four decades.

“Arkady was a beloved teacher and cherished musician with the DSO. He was a fixture of the Dallas musical community, and his talent and inspiration touched the lives of hundreds of artists,” said Jonathan Martin, president and CEO of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. “We will miss him terribly.”

Arkady Fomin playing the violin.

Arkady Fomin, a longtime musician with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, was director of UT Dallas’ String Ensemble and a longtime artist in residence at the University.

The same year he joined the DSO, Fomin came to UT Dallas as an artist in residence where he worked to establish the New Conservatory of Dallas.

Originally created in 1979 as a summer workshop at UT Dallas, Fomin founded the New Conservatory, which has become an internationally known music program that provides music education and performing opportunities for young musicians. Under Fomin’s direction, students of the conservatory presented concerts in a number of cities in the U.S., including two visits to the White House and tours of Russia, Latvia, Czech Republic and Scotland.

Fomin also co-founded the Clavier Trio, which serves as ensemble in residence at UT Dallas. Among its recordings, the Clavier Trio has released Passion & Glory, and is featured in an album of chamber works by UT Dallas professor Robert Xavier Rodríguez.

Fomin has taught string orchestra courses at UT Dallas throughout the years, providing an opportunity for students to play and study in an ensemble. At the end of every semester, students perform classical music from different periods in the Arts Festival.

Three sisters studied under Fomin and played in the University’s orchestra over the years.

He enjoyed sharing his love for music with us. He truly believed in his students and had confidence in us. I will miss his sense of humor, kindness, playfulness, loving personality, and his beautiful smile.

Junia da Rocha Valente,
PhD candidate

“We will never forget the great moments we had with him at UTD orchestra,” said Rubia da Rocha Valente, who graduated last year with a PhD in public policy and political economy and currently holds a post-doctoral researcher position at the University. “He was such a great teacher. I will never forget the poetic analogies he would make with his wonderful, Latvian accent, ‘This part, you have to play it as if you are a tiny, wet, shivering little bird.’”

Junia da Rocha Valente, who is pursuing her PhD in software engineering, said Fomin was an enthusiastic and caring teacher.

“He enjoyed sharing his love for music with us. He truly believed in his students and had confidence in us. I will miss his sense of humor, kindness, playfulness, loving personality and his beautiful smile,” Junia said.

The youngest sister, Sarah da Rocha Valente, is working on a doctoral degree in the School of Arts and Humanities.

“He always found a way to get us ‘Valente Sisters,’ as he affectionately called my sisters and I, to the DSO concerts to see performances we wouldn't otherwise have the chance or means to attend,” Sarah said. “When I played the cello earlier today, I could still hear echoes of his voice, ‘Move the bow, move the bow, don’t be afraid!’”

A celebration of Fomin’s life was held Thursday at the Sparkman Hillcrest Chapel. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Dallas Symphony Association or the Jewish Family Service.

UT Dallas is planning to dedicate a concert in Fomin’s memory in the fall semester of 2014.

Robert Xavier Rodríguez: Memories of His Close Friend


Robert Xavier Rodríguez

Robert Xavier Rodríguez, who holds the Endowed Chair in Art and Aesthetic Studies, said Fomin was one of his dearest personal friends as well as a valued colleague.   

We were born the same year, so when we turned 50, we joked that we should give a concert together called "100 Years of Chutzpah." Arkady gave the premiere performances of many of my pieces over the years — at UT Dallas, with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and with Voices of Change. For one Texas Composers Forum benefit, he drove from Dallas to Austin, played my piece, then drove right back to Dallas so that he could teach the next day. Arkady was a devoted teacher, and he left an enormous legacy of students whose lives he enriched over the years.  Even during his final illness, he took the trouble to send me written notes with bowing suggestions for the piece I’m currently writing, along with the comment, "Is difficult, but is possible."

With Arkady, even the most difficult thing was possible. Arkady referred to himself as an "idea-holic," and he had an insatiable appetite for organizing grand musical productions, both at his own New Conservatory of Dallas and at UT Dallas, where he brought some of the greatest artists of the musical world to perform with him. Once, he showed up at my doorstep late at night in his DSO white tie and tails and said, "I would like a cognac. I have an idea!" And we were off on a new musical adventure.

When my wife would hear me on the phone at midnight laughing, she knew Arkady was on the line. One night, I said to him, "Arkady, if you and I were running the world, the world would be a better place." He immediately answered, "For us!"  Thanks to Arkady, the musical world is a better place for all of us.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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