Influence in Crescendo
Impact of legendary music professor Alphonse Carlo lives on through scholarship fund.
By Meredith Vance and Karen Goodrum
It’s often said that when it comes to getting the most out of life, it’s “all about who you know.” Rollins was fortunate to know Alphonse Carlo, an accomplished musician and gifted professor of music. Thirty-two years after his retirement in 1979, the College and community still enjoy the benefits of his significant legacy.
Fondly known as “Phonsie,” Carlo established his Rollins connection unassumingly when, as a young man in 1942, he performed the traditional Irish melody “Londonderry Air” for Rollins President Hamilton Holt. Holt was so impressed with Carlo’s performance that he immediately offered him a teaching position in the music department. Carlo accepted and went on to enjoy a long Rollins career, after which he was honored as Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Music.
A Connecticut native and graduate of the renowned Juilliard School of Music in New York, Carlo relocated to Winter Park following his fateful performance for President Holt. Knowing that education and music should reach beyond the walls of the Rollins classroom, he immersed himself in the music culture of Central Florida, thus becoming a leader to both existing and aspiring musicians. Instrumental in helping to organize the Bach Festival Society in the 1940s, he performed with the group for 49 seasons. He also had the opportunity to lead the Florida Symphony Orchestra. In 1957, he founded the Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra, which he led as principal conductor for 15 years. Carlo was also fond of working with smaller groups, including his Baroque Ensemble comprised of students and Orlando residents.
According to John V. Sinclair, chair of the Department of Music and John M. Tiedtke Professor of Music at Rollins as well as artistic director and conductor of the Bach Festival Society, Carlo not only inspired the community musically, but was also a “person who embodied genuine kindness and grace.” Sinclair also cited the talents of Katherine, a highly accomplished concert pianist and accompanist in her own right who often performed with her husband and others.
A number of Carlo’s students went on to successful music careers, including Winter Park native Charles Rex, who served as associate concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for many years. Joni Roos, who joined Carlo’s Baroque ensemble as an eight-year-old and continued to study strings under Carlo’s direction for many years, eventually became her instructor’s musical colleague and continues to serve as adjunct professor of music at Rollins.
Carlo passed away in 1992, but his influence and meaningful Rollins connections live on through The Alphonse and Katherine Carlo Music Scholarship, which was established in 1993 thanks to a generous gift received from the Alphonse Carlo Trust. Alphonse Carlo’s brother, Anthony, also supported the College, and in December 2010, Rollins received a sizeable distribution from the Anthony Carlo Trust to support the scholarship that provides aid to students for the study of piano or stringed instruments.
It seems fitting that today Joni Roos holds her classes in the “Carlo Room” of the R.D. Keene Music Building, and that many of her students are Carlo Scholars—some of whom would not have been able to attend Rollins without The Alphonse and Katherine Carlo Music Scholarship.