S.F. Symphony cellist Lawrence Granger dies

  • June 19, 2009

By Joshua Kosman
Chronicle Music Critic

Lawrence Granger, a gifted and committed cellist with the San Francisco Symphony for 30 years, died Sunday at UCSF Hospital shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. He was 57.

Mr. Granger joined the Symphony in 1979, after stints with the Oakland Symphony and San Francisco Ballet Orchestra. A dedicated chamber player, he appeared regularly with his orchestral colleagues on the Symphony's Chamber Music Series and as part of the independently produced Chamber Music Sundaes. He also performed as a guest member of several community orchestras.

Among his solo appearances under the Symphony's auspices were his participation in the local premieres of works by Su Lian Tan, Steven Stucky and Bright Sheng during the 1993 Wet Ink Festival.

Mr. Granger was born in San Diego on March 1, 1952, and moved to the Bay Area with his family in 1966. He attended then-Cal State Hayward, earning a music degree in 1975, and studied with Bonnie Hampton and Symphony principal cellist Michael Grebanier. He joined the music faculty of his alma mater - later Cal State East Bay - in 1990.

Although music was never far from his heart, he toyed with the idea of being an airline pilot, even majoring in aeronautics in college. But the cello soon won out.

In a statement, Music Director Michael Tilson Thomas said, "Larry had a special appreciation of music - a mixture of his understanding of its technical side from his background as a pilot and, mostly, its emotional side, coming from the caring person that he was. He was actively interested in the future of music and played a real role in encouraging young artists, young composers and new independent performing groups to find their way."

Mr. Granger is survived by his wife, Priscilla Carter Granger of Pleasanton; his parents, Howard and Dorothy Granger of Riverside; and his sister, Jocelyn Granger of Fremont. Plans for a memorial are pending.

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