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 a year to live in a township in New Mexico.
Back in Boston, he studied jazz guitar with Mick Goodrich of the Berkley School of Music, but soon realized 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 graduated from the Conservatorio Municipal de Barcelona with the mention “exceptional” in 1979.
He then returned to the United States to continue his education earning a BM in Performance at the University of Southern Maine while studying with Neil Anderson, and an MMin Performance at the 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 introducing students to the wide 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 provided many performance and scholarship opportunities for young artists.
Keith was appointed as a classical guitar instructor at the University of Maine at Orono in 1986 and at the University of Southern Maine in 1990, where he also taught music theory and ear training. His career teaching guitar in Maine through the university system spanned over 35 years. Although he retired from USM in 2021, he continued to teach at the Portland Conservatory of Music and privately. He truly enjoyed teaching and was admired and respected by his many students. He was known for his demanding but down to earth style as well as his irreverent sense of humor.
Keith was an active soloist and performer of chamber music and performed regularly with many well-known musicians in southern Maine. He was on the roster of touring artists from New England and Maine, and for a time 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 liked to be surrounded by trees in the deep woods. He identified the largest Hickory Shagbark in the state of Maine recorded in the Maine Register of Big Trees in January 2000.
Keith was an avid reader whose interests ranged from high fiction to science, especially psychology and quantum physics. He was also fascinated by mystical traditions and had a lifelong interest in altered states of consciousness.
Keith’s memory will be cherished by many friends, students and colleagues, including his beloved friend and former partner Madeleine Hanna and close friends Carl Dimow, Jody Meredith and Blake Styles.
A memorial gathering is planned for a future date to be announced.
Obituary: Kathleen Doris Mikkelsen