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Sandra Lynn Carlock, renowned pianist, master music teacher, and photographer, dies at 76

“The devotion and commitment she had for her students, their families, and Settlement Music School was deeply inspiring,” Helen Eaton, Settlement’s chief executive officer, said in a tribute.

Ms. Carlock was an award-winning pianist and music teacher.
Ms. Carlock was an award-winning pianist and music teacher.Read moreTodd Trice

Sandra Lynn Carlock, 76, of Huntingdon Valley, a renowned pianist, recording artist, master music teacher, lecturer, and photographer, died Wednesday, Sept. 8, of glioblastoma at Rydal Park retirement community.

A child prodigy on the piano, Ms. Carlock recorded several albums, performed and lectured around the United States, Europe, and elsewhere, played in chamber music ensembles, and, since 2014, partnered with the French violinist Guillaume Combet to form the Carlock-Combet Duo.

She was an Arthur Judson Distinguished Faculty Chair at Settlement Music School and taught piano and chamber music there for more than 50 years. She won Settlement’s 1989 Sol Schoenbach Award for outstanding service to the school and the Steinway & Sons’ annual top teacher award in 2016 and 2018.

“The devotion and commitment she had for her students, their families, and Settlement was deeply inspiring,” Helen Eaton, Settlement’s chief executive officer, said in a tribute. School officials also praised Ms. Carlock for her “undeniably strong work ethic and dedicated mentorship.”

Her recordings and performances received much critical acclaim, and MusicWeb International said that the Carlock-Combet Duo displayed “imaginative and intelligent programming performed with style, panache and polish.”

The French music magazine Classica praised the duo’s most recent album, Romantic Violin Sonatas, and noted its “constant insights from beginning to end” with “perfect technique, fidelity to the music, impeccable articulation.”

Ms. Carlock had also embraced photography recently, and her images are featured on the covers of two of her albums. She specialized in landscapes, cityscapes, architecture, and portraits.

Born Nov. 5, 1944, Ms. Carlock was raised in McAlester, Okla. Her mother, Ruth, was a musician and piano teacher, and Ms. Carlock shocked her one day when, at 3, she sat down and played pieces she had heard much older pupils play.

“I can’t ever remember a time when I couldn’t play the piano,” Ms. Carlock told interviewer Malcolm Stewart. “So that actually makes it something that is so integral to who I am. I think that’s quite wonderful in a way.”

As a youngster in Oklahoma, Ms. Carlock also liked to climb trees, be around animals, and read. She skipped the seventh grade, graduated from high school at 16, and earned a bachelor’s degree in music at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.

She received a master’s degree in music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and did postgraduate studies at the Juilliard School. She moved to Philadelphia, she told The Inquirer in 1997, to be close to New York and take advantage of Philadelphia’s “lively musical life of its own.” She lived in Melrose Park and Perkasie before moving to Huntingdon Valley.

Ms. Carlock said Clara Schumann, Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Frédéric Chopin, and Johannes Brahms were among her favorite composers. Performing, she told The Inquirer in a 1989 article, can be stressful. “It is taking a part of yourself and putting it on display,” she said.

Her sister, Ruth Ann, said Ms. Carlock “was a good big sister and always extremely serious about the piano.”

Kathleen Krull, Settlement’s Willow Grove branch director, said in a tribute that Ms. Carlock was an effective teacher because she had “the perfect combination of warmth, high expectations, humor, and love of music and people.”

Her brother, Ken, said Ms. Carlock “cared about her students to the nth degree.”

One former student called her “a force of life” and said in a tribute, “I already really miss her.”

In addition to her sister and brother, Ms. Carlock is survived by former husband Lee Snyder and other relatives. Her second husband, Kurt Sotmon, died earlier.

A memorial concert is to be held at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 28, in Perelman Hall at the Kimmel Cultural Campus, 300 S. Broad St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19102.