Moores veteran, musician leaves legacy
The University is saying its goodbyes after losing an honorary figure and exceptional musician who fulfilled the mission of the Moores School of Music.
Director Emeritus David Tomatz, who served as the MSM director for 15 years, passed away Jan. 16.
Tomatz pushed MSM into new musical ventures by helping guide the creation of the Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival, the Moores Jazz Festival, the expansion of the school’s opera program and the construction of the state-of-the-art MSM building and Moores Opera House.
He also raised student enrollment at MSM from 320 music majors to more than 600 and was instrumental in starting MSM’s doctoral program, later approved by the State Coordinating Board and accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.
UH alumnus and General and Artistic Director of Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival Alan Austin knew Tomatz from his freshman year at UH through the completion of his graduate work.
“I first knew him as the enthusiastic head of the school, who was a big supporter of the students, he knew our names and the faculty,” Austin said. “Later, as director of the Immanuel and Helen Olshan Texas Music Festival, he was my boss. He was a real mentor, father-figure and friend … always supportive.”
Austin said he will miss being able to consult with him when he needs an outside perspective.
Tomatz started his musical journey at the University of Wyoming in 1961, where he accepted a position as cellist and instructor and eventually became head of the music department in 1974. During his time at University of Wisconsin, he co-founded and directed the Western Arts Music Festival in Wyoming and developed a statewide Cultural Outreach Program.
As a cellist, he founded the Western Arts Trio, recorded for Laurel Records and toured throughout the United States as well as in Europe, South and Central America, Mexico and Australia. He performed alongside pianist Werner Rose and violinist Brian Hanly.
Tomatz also held numerous elected offices in NASM, including Region 3 chair, member of the Commission on Accreditation, chair of the former Commission on Non-Degree-Granting Accreditation, chair of the Nominating Committee and vice president, culminating in his service as president from 2001 to 2003.
Tomatz earned a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and his Master of Music and Doctor of Philosophy in Music History from Catholic University of America.
“Whether or not you knew David (Tomatz), you should know that the foundation he laid for what is today the Moores School of Music has allowed the school to continue to flourish,” said MSM Director David Ashley White. “He will be greatly missed.”