MADISON--Fredrick Carl Schrank (Fred), whose musical gifts to the City of Madison spanned five decades, died on April 5, 2019 at Agrace Hospice, Fitchburg, Wis., surrounded by his loving family and close friends after more than a year bravely battling pancreatic cancer.
From 1977-2016, Fred played in the bass section of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, serving 33 years as the Principal Bassist in the Symphony. "...it was truly a privilege to play with you in MSO. Your spirit, leadership and passion for music made rehearsals and performances amazing. You have touched so many lives in the symphony and in your career as a teacher." (MSO bass player)
Fred's lasting professional teaching legacy will be advocating for music and instrumental education for all children and his gift of teaching strings and full orchestra to thousands of children over 20 years in the Sun Prairie and Madison Metropolitan School Districts, finishing his teaching career as Orchestra Director for seven years at West High School. "Mr. Schrank was my orchestra teacher for five years, and he was simply the best. He was funny, he took no BS, and he cared deeply about his students. I always looked forward to his class." (West High student) "I want to thank you for everything you did for our son in West orchestra. He loved having you as a teacher and conductor. Thank you Fred for the gift of your teaching. You live on through your students." (West High Orchestra student's parent)
Fred was born on August 8, 1952, in the Bronx, New York. Fred's first introduction to the upright bass was in his public school's music program. Private lessons followed with Homer Mensch, a member of the NY Philharmonic Orchestra. Fred was a member of the NYC All City Orchestra, performing in concerts at Carnegie Hall. Throughout his life, Fred played classical and jazz music and even disco in the 1970s as a member of the band Trust in Pennsylvania.
With his loving partner and wife, Barbara (Bobbi McKellar), he moved to Madison, Wis. in 1977 where Fred continued his private studies with bassist Richard Davis, earning his B.A. in Music Performance from the University of WI in 1982. Along the way, Fred received several fellowships to the Aspen Music Festival, studying with Stuart Stankey.
In addition to his music career, Fred owned his own video production company in the 1980s, Inphotech. As an employee of Madison Gas and Electric, he ran their video production department. Fred was a fine craftsman, building from scratch scale models of land and sea airplanes, flying his electric models nearly every calm wind day on Lake Wingra or at the MARCS field in Cottage Grove. In recent years, Fred took up and found joy in flying small single-engine planes, soloing in 2017.
Fred's deepest devotion and loves in his life were his wife and daughter, Alexandra, who was born in 1991. He was their music man. They shared his love of music and together shared many family adventures visiting the Atlantic Ocean beaches, hiking mountains and canyons, snorkeling in Hawaii, camping, attending Broadway shows in NYC.
Fred is survived by his wife and partner of more than 43 years, Barbara; his precious daughter, Alexandra; sister, Elizabeth Bessin; nieces, Amrita Bessin (Robert Cohen) and Jacqueline Barto; nephew, Theo Bessin (Yvonne Tse); grand-nephews, Soren Cohen and Jax Bessin; sisters-in-law, Kathryn Barto (Rick) and Deborah McKellar; mother-in-law, Katherine McKellar; and aunt-in-law, Betty Nemec. He was preceded in death by his mother, Edith Schrank; and father, Robert Schrank; as well as aunts and cousins.
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