It is with great sadness that we report the death of Chester Lane, who worked as an editor at Symphony for nearly four decades. Chester died suddenly on November 24 while visiting friends in Winchester, Virginia. Marianne Sciolino, Chester’s wife of 13 years, states that he died from heart failure, and had not been sick.
The League of American Orchestras’ longest-tenured staff member, Chester joined the magazine—then known as Symphony News and published bimonthly—in December 1979, when the League was headquartered in Northern Virginia. Beginning with the February/March 1980 issue, his writing appeared in 210 successive issues of the magazine: unsigned news reports, columns, and bylined features including profiles of orchestras, musical artists, and administrators, as well as articles on repertoire, programming, education, community engagement, patron relations, and League training activities and services. He was recognized with an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award in 2002 for his article “Music Close to Home: The Vital Role of Community Orchestras in America,” which appeared in Symphony’s November/December 2001 issue.
In 2017, Chester stepped down from Symphony to take up a position as communications director at Sciolino Arts Management, which represents established and emerging classical musicians, and worked alongside his wife, Marianne Sciolino, the firm’s CEO and founder. He wrote for Symphony on an occasional basis and pursued writing opportunities and personal projects in the classical music field.
Chester Tevis Lane was born in Washington, D.C. on January 21, 1947 and raised in Nyack, New York and Cambridge, Massachusetts. He held a bachelor’s degree cum laude in English literature from Harvard College and a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He studied piano at the Longy School and New England Conservatory. A lifelong choral singer, he was a member and past board president of New York’s Canterbury Choral Society.
Saluting Chester’s service to the orchestra field at the League’s 2017 National Conference, Jesse Rosen, then the League’s president and CEO, commented, “Chester Lane is known and admired by all our colleagues, and has been a faithful and eloquent storyteller for orchestras for more than 35 years.” Chester took music seriously, but those who worked alongside Chester also remember his lighter side, in particular his puns, often referred to as “Chesterisms.” Offhand quips—“If you are finished, please press the pound sign or hang up, or hurl the phone across the room,” “I want to start a ladder company called Lord of the Rungs, but I’ll get sued by the Tolkien estate”—could erupt at any point during the day, often leaving colleagues groaning or shaking with laughter.
In addition to his wife, survivors include daughters Hannah and Rachel; a son, Cory; a brother, David; sisters Julie and Dinah; and three grandchildren. At press time, details were being finalized for a memorial event to be held in January at St. Paul the Apostle Church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.