Fargo-Moorhead Symphony violist dies at 100, played at 99

The Fargo-Moorhead Symphony has lost a gem of a performer - one who had real staying power.


Mary King Osterfield

Photo: InForum.com

Violist Mary King Osterfield played with the orchestra for 46 years, up until a fall combined with kidney failure forced her to retire at age 99. She had hoped to perform at least once at age 100, but that wasn't to be.

I had the pleasure of meeting Osterfield while on a visit to the Fargo-Moorhead area just over a year ago. I was attending a rehearsal of the FMSO, and watched Osterfield's bow fly just as fast as those of the young musicians next to her. Many of them were her former students.

Afterward we chatted, which is when she really charmed me. Born in Northern Ireland, Osterfield had a lilting accent and a sparkle in her eye that was absolutely infectious.

An obituary on inforum.com quotes Osterfield as having stated "when I get that viola under my chin I feel like I'm 21."

This past weekend the FMSO performed a work in Osterfield's memory, leaving a chair empty where she would have sat. She'll be deeply missed.

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