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Hamilton Mourns the Death of Professor Sam Pellman


Samuel F. Pellman, the James L. Ferguson Professor of Music, died on November 9.

Members of the Hamilton and Clinton communities gathered in Wellin Hall on Nov. 15 for a Memorial Service honoring Sam. Remembrances were offered and the Oneida Area Civic Chorale and College Hill Singers performed.

M45, a video and audio work Sam had produced with Miranda Raimondi, was shown. The piece was inspired by a Spitzer telescope image of the nebula m45 and is a piece of visual music in which the processes for synthesizing the sound and the video footage are closely linked. 

Shortly before his death Sam completed work on Tower of Voices, a visual and audible reminder of the heroism of the 40 passengers and crew of United Flight 93 that was hijacked and crashed in Shanksville, Pa., on Sept. 11, 2001. The project is currently under construction and will be dedicated at the September 11 ceremony in 2018. Sam created the pitch design of the 40 wind chimes that represent the 40 people killed. It will be one of the most important works of his legacy. 

Tributes to Sam were posted on Facebook after his death was announced by President David Wippman and Interim Dean of Faculty Margaret Gentry:

Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,

We write with heartbreaking news. Sam Pellman, the James L. Ferguson Professor of Music, was struck and killed in an automobile accident while riding his bicycle earlier today. Sam was our friend as well as our colleague, just as he was to so many others in our community. On behalf of all of us at Hamilton, we extend our deepest and most profound condolences to Colleen and their children, John and Emily.

During the nearly four decades that Sam has been a part of this community, he was a widely admired teacher, a groundbreaking scholar in the area of electroacoustic music, and an indispensable part of the fabric of this community, serving as associate dean, Posse mentor, and on nearly every elected faculty committee and on multiple ad hoc committees formed to address College priorities, especially those involving the arts. In April 2015, he received the Alumni Association's Distinguished Service Award. More importantly, he was a good and loyal friend to his colleagues, an exceptional advisor to students, and an exemplary representative of the College and its values. In so many ways, he will be irreplaceable.

Sam’s death touches us all deeply. An informal gathering will be held this evening in Dwight Lounge beginning at 7:30 p.m. for those who would like to seek comfort in the company of others. The Counseling Center will also have additional hours this evening until 7:30 p.m. and tomorrow until 7 p.m., and peer counselors will be available until 10 p.m. tonight and 7 p.m. tomorrow. Students may also call our 24/7/365 counseling line (315-859-4340, option 2). In addition, we call your attention to the BRiDGES Employee Assistance Program, which offers professional, comprehensive and personalized services for employees who may benefit from this confidential service.

In light of such tragic news, please take time to care for yourself and to offer support to those around you. We will look for additional ways to honor Sam and his memory in the weeks and months to come.

One of Sam's fomer students, Alison McLaughlin '11, created a poem in his memory.

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