Earle Voorhies, 93; Pianist and Former Chairman of CalArts Piano Department

Times Staff Writer

Earle Voorhies, a classical pianist and former chairman of the piano department at the California Institute of the Arts who also taught piano at Cal State universities in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Fullerton, died Aug. 11. He was 93.

Voorhies died of cardiac and respiratory arrest at Kindred Hospital in West Covina, according to his daughter, Lee Fernandez. He had been in failing health for several years but continued to teach music at his home.

A longtime resident of South Pasadena, Voorhies prepared hundreds of piano students to perform in competitions and go on to professional careers in music. He coordinated more than 300 student concerts for the Young Artist Guild, a program he chaired in the ‘70s and ‘80s, which is sponsored by the Music Teachers’ Assn. of California.

Born Oct. 30, 1912, in Highland Park, Voorhies graduated from USC and the Juilliard School in New York City on a five-year graduate fellowship.


Early in his career he toured the Southwest as the accompanist for Luisa Espinel, a popular Mexican American singer and dancer of traditional folk music.

He also gave solo recitals. “He is a brilliant player with an unerring sense of concert tempo,” a Los Angeles Times reviewer wrote of Voorhies’ debut concert in 1935.

Teaching became his priority, but he continued to perform in lecture-recitals at small auditoriums. He also wrote articles about aspects of piano study for Clavier magazine and other music publications.

In addition to Fernandez, of Redwood City, Calif., Voorhies is survived by three other children, Sarah Voorhies of Sebastopol, Calif.; Daven Voorhies of Houston; and Coerte Voorhies of Bowie, Md.; and many grandchildren and great grandchildren. His wife, Irene, died in 2003.

A memorial service is planned for 11 a.m. Sept. 16 at Oneonta Congregational Church, 1515 Garfield Ave., South Pasadena.

Contributions in his name can be made to the Voorhies Young Artist Guild (YAG) Scholarship Fund, c/o The Music Teachers’ Assn. of California, 833 Market St., Suite 900, San Francisco, CA 91403.