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January 25, 2013

Obituary - Frank Pooler dies at 86

Los Angeles Times:

Frank Pooler, a longtime choral director at Cal State Long Beach who is credited with helping the 1970s pop group the Carpenters develop their signature sound, has died. He was 86. Pooler died Jan. 19 in his Los Alamitos home after a short battle with lung cancer, said his wife, Rhonda Sandberg Pooler.

He began teaching at the school in 1959 and founded the choral studies department. Among the students he mentored were a gangly brother and sister, Richard and Karen Carpenter. The two were studying music, Richard playing piano and Karen on the drums, when they landed spots in Pooler's choir.

Pooler soon began to encourage them both to sing and compose, instead. "Frank was unique in his ability to nurture talent and give it wings to fly," said Leland Vail, a former student and colleague who teaches music at the university.

As the duo rose to fame, Pooler continued to mentor the Carpenters, who often popped into classes to play their latest recordings. They credited Pooler with teaching them his "voice blending" technique, which would become instrumental in the Carpenters' trademark soft vocal harmonies in hits such as "Rainy Days and Mondays" and "Close to You." The duo later performed several benefit concerts at the school.

"He was the only one down there who actually understood what we were after, and he stood behind us all the way," Karen Carpenter, who died in 1983, said of him in a 1978 radio interview.

Though he was celebrated in the world of choral singing, Pooler was best known for co-writing "Merry Christmas Darling," one of the few modern tunes to join the anthology of holiday standards. Read more.

Posted by acapnews at January 25, 2013 12:00 AM