Blanchard, Harold - Harold Blanchard, 80, of New Smyrna Beach, passed away on December 19, 2010 at Hospice of Volusia/Flagler Care Center. He was a renown classical and jazz pianist who delighted music lovers with his insightful and harmonically rich interpretations, compositions, and recordings. He incorporated his classical piano background into his jazz interpretations which resulted in a seamless, virtuoso style which became his trademark. In newspaper and magazine articles over the years he has been called "Resident Jazz King" and "New Smyrna Beach's Ambassador of Jazz."
Harold Blanchard was born to musician parents in Harlem, New York City. His musical education started at age 6, and he displayed extraordinary ability with the piano from the start. At age 7, he began a 10-year study of classical music with Juilliard School graduate Edwin Coates, and he later studied at the Juilliard School of Music under pianist Jacques Abram. By age 14 he gave his first solo recital and his first New York City recital a year later. As a teenager he was also starting to play with several jazz quartets.
After serving for one year in the Armed Forces, he began to be intensely interested in the understanding of God's Word, the Bible. Thus, since the age of 20, both loves dominated his life...his love of music and his love of God. He became a member of the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses in 1950, after which he kept developing both areas of his life.
He never stopped educating himself in music, which resulted over the years in his development as a composer of serious classical works for other musicians. One example of this is his composition The New Earth Sonata that was recorded in 1983 under the CBS-Masterwork's label for flutist Hubert Laws and pianist Chick Corea. The highly acclaimed piece, which combines classical themes with intermittent space for jazz improvisation, spent 16 months on Billboard's Top 10 and is a showcase for Harold Blanchard's ability as a composer in both the classical and jazz mediums.
Harold was also a beloved music teacher. At Stetson University, where out of recognition for his vast knowledge he was given the honorary title of Ph.D, he began in 1988 as an adjunct professor teaching a jazz improvisation course required for all music majors. He was also elected to the presitigious Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society in 1989. Even though his thorough understanding of music harmony and theory and his inner musical ear were amazing, it was his joyful, gentle nature that captured the hearts of his students.
He will long be remembered as a warm, unselfish person who gave willingly of his talents and knowledge to others. We are sure that he dwells in God's heart and will one day hear the voice of the Lord Jesus calling him out to a resurrection of life. (John 5:28,29)
His memorial service is open to the public and will be held Monday, Jan.3, 2011, 6:30 p.m., at the Assembly Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses, 299 North Tomoka Farms Rd., Daytona Beach.