Keith Crook

PORTLAND – Keith Crook, of Portland, passed away peacefully on May 7, 2022 at the age of 71.

The only son of the late Ann Marie and Edward Crook, Keith grew up in Pembroke, Mass. and graduated from Silverlake Regional High School in 1968. Keith left the University of Massachusetts after one year to live on a commune in New Mexico.

Back in Boston he studied jazz guitar with Mick Goodrich from the Berkley School of Music however he soon realized that his passion was classical guitar. In 1972 he moved to Barcelona, Spain where he spent seven years studying classical guitar, music theory and ear training. He studied with Eduardo Sainz de la Maza, Jose Luis Lapategui and Luis Gasser among others and received his diploma from the Conservatorio Municipal de Barcelona with a grade of “outstanding” in 1979.

He then returned to the states to continue his education obtaining a B.M. in Performance at the University of Southern Maine while studying with Neil Anderson, and a Performance at Boston Conservatory in 1986 where he studied with Robert Guthrie. He graduated “summa cum laude” from both institutions.

As early as 1970 Keith began teaching guitar, maintaining a private studio throughout his time as a student in Spain and the United States. He was passionate about teaching and about introducing students to the broad range of musical styles and culture related to the classical guitar. For many years he was president of the Downeast Society for Classical Guitar which offered many opportunities for both performance and scholarships to young artists.

Keith was appointed Classical Guitar Instructor at the University of Maine in Orono in 1986 and at the University of Southern Maine in 1990, where he also taught music theory and ear training. His guitar teaching career in Maine through the University system spanned over 35 years. Although he retired from USM in 2021 he continued teaching through the Portland Conservatory of Music and privately. He truly loved teaching and was admired and respected by his many students. He was known for his demanding yet down to earth style as well as his irreverent sense of humor.

Keith was an active solo and chamber music performer and played regularly with many well known musicians in Southern Maine. He was on the roster of both the New England and the Maine Touring Artists Programs and for a time he was the Flamenco guitarist for Theresa Torkanowsky’s Dancers. He also composed music for the guitar throughout his career. Several of his pieces have been published as well as numerous articles on performance and musical interpretation.

Keith had many interests and hobbies including hiking and identifying trees and wild plants. He loved to be surrounded by trees in the deep woods. He identified the largest Shagbark Hickory in the state of Maine recorded in the Maine Register of Big Trees in January of 2000.

Keith was an avid reader whose interests ranged from great fiction to the sciences, particularly psychology and quantum physics. He was also fascinated by mystical traditions and had a life long interest in altered states of consciousness.

Keith’s memory will be cherished by many friends, students and colleagues, including his loving friend and former partner Madeleine Hanna and his close friends Carl Dimow, Jody Meredith and Blake Styles.

A memorial gathering is being planned for a future date to be announced.

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