“I distinctly remember Al listening to him and saying ‘Whoa, this guy’s great! I don’t think there’s much I could teach him,’” Chmielowski said.
In 2012, Smith told The Daily Star that Galladoro became his idol as a child growing up in Hershey, Penn. In ninth grade, a clarinet player in his community band gave him a cassette of Gallodoro and he was “blown away.”
“Al continues to be an inspiration and a mentor to me to this day,” Smith said. “When studying with Al, he constantly raised the bar for me through his keen sense of detail and musicianship from his vast performance history.”
Several years ago, Smith contacted Chmielowski, asking her for music parts and original copies of transcriptions of Gallodoro’s music, Chmielowski said. At the same time, Smith contacted Gallodoro’s grandson, Kevin Wood, and asked to buy Gallodoro’s instruments. This led to Wood eventually loaning his grandfather’s instruments to Smith.
“It was like his spirit was in the room,” Smith said, about seeing and playing the instruments. “Of course, I was tickled about it.”
Gallodoro died Oct. 4, 2008, after starting his career at age 13 in New Orleans and playing professionally for more than 80 years, the release said. The last 22 years of his career were spent in Oneonta.
Rene Prins, a local oboist, band conductor and music professor at the State University College at Oneonta and Hartwick College, said he would love to attend the tribute concert Sunday night, but has a concert of his own that day. Prins spoke at Gallodoro’s funeral, he said.
Chmielowski said she, too, wishes she could attend the tribute concert, but has a previous engagement she must attend. Gallodoro was passionate, yet strict, she said. During intense practice sessions, Gallodoro frequently told her to be patient with herself and slow the music down if she was unsure of a part, she recalled.
“Still today, I don’t think a day goes by when I’m playing that I don’t hear him saying, ‘Slow the darn thing down,’” Chmielowski said. “He was a doll.”