September 2, 1972-December 4, 2020
Rochester, NY- 48 years young, passed away December 4, 2020 from complications resulting from unexpected heart surgery.
Eric is reunited in death with his beloved mother, Genelda Basinger Kesler; maternal grandparents, Marvin “Pony” & Myrtle Basinger, and paternal grandparents, John & Natalie Kesler. Eric’s spirit is carried on by his wife, Korinne Smith and their sons Samson (6 yrs) & Sawyer (3 yrs); his father Stephen Kesler (Karen); sister, Eva Hartman (David); nephew, Matthew Hartman; niece, Natalie Young (Bryce), and an extended family of relations and friends from every walk of life.
Eric was born on September 2, 1972 in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he grew up and graduated from North Mecklenburg High School. His love for music led him to Appalachian State University where he received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and a Master of Music in Music Performance. During his time at ASU, he was a proud brother of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity. He went on later to fulfill his ultimate goal of achieving a Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Performance from the University of South Carolina where he published his research topic: The Human Body as the Primary Instrument: Studies in Musical Wholeness and Achieving Instrumental Awareness Through the Breath (2015).
As a renowned bass-baritone, Eric performed in several venues throughout the US and Italy. He performed as guest soloist for Handel’s Messiah (Buffalo Philharmonic), Mozart Requiem, Fauré Requiem, Brahms Requiem, Dubois Seven Last Words, and Bach St. Matthew Passion. Opera roles included Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Falke in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus, Husband in Menotti’s Amelia Goes to The Ball, Plunkett in Friedrich von Flotow’s Martha, Vertigo in Offenbach’s Pepito and Leporello in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Papageno in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, and Sharpless in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. Throughout his life, he performed with several professional level church and community choirs and premiered several newly commissioned musical works. In 2019, he served as Executive Director of the Rochester Oratorio Society. Eric also enjoyed performing the National Anthem for the NFL Carolina Panthers, the USC Gamecocks Football, Basketball, and Baseball games. Go Cocks!
Dr. Kesler’s teaching career began at Appalachian State where he was a Graduate Teaching Assistant, teaching Voice Class for music ed and non-music majors. During his time at ASU, he focused on his work with the Creative Motion Alliance, Inc. This work was extremely important to him and was an integral part of his musical artistry and pedagogy. He became a Level II Certified Creative Motion Instructor and served on Faculty of Windswept Music Conference for 20 years. Eric then went on to the University of South Carolina where he was the Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Opera Theatre Department also known as “Opera at USC”. While performing the role of Plunkett in Flotow’s Martha, Eric met his future wife, Korinne. It was truly love at first listen. Eric continued teaching and held adjunct teaching positions at Coker College (Hartsville, SC) and most recently at Nazareth College of Rochester where he taught Applied Voice, Vocal Literature, Voice Class, and Psychological Foundation of Education for both undergraduate and graduate students.
In addition to his performance and teaching career, Eric also worked for 17 years as a skilled instrument technician. He built, repaired and tuned pipe organs spanning the entire East Coast of the United States and in Los Angeles, CA. He worked for Lincoln Pipe Organ Company (Lincolnton, NC), Rosales Pipe Organ Services (Los Angeles, CA), Eastman Music Company (Pomona, CA) and Parson’s Pipe Organs (Canandaigua, NY). His attention to detail, knowledge and expertise of these instruments made him one of the best in his field.
Above all else, Eric was a devoted husband and father. His love for his family was undeniable. His greatest achievement in life were his two sons, Samson & Sawyer. His legacy of love, compassion, selflessness and music will forever guide them as they grow into the young men Eric was modeling them to be. Eric’s memory will live on through them and through the hearts and minds of those impacted by his presence in their lives.
A Memorial Service will be live streamed via YouTube on Wednesday, December 16, 10:00AM at the First Presbyterian Church of Pittsford. To attend the service, please subscribe to the First Presbyterian Church’s YouTube page or visit the following link: https://www.youtube.com/user/PittsfordPres
In remembrance of Eric’s life, donations can be made to assist the family through a GoFundMe campaign via https://gf.me/u/zbmr7b or to the Creative Motion Alliance at https://www.creativemotion.org/donate.
To Eric, a bright light, who inspired many with his positive outlook, beaming smile, and shining spirit. His voice will carry on in the hearts of many, My deepest condolences to his wife and children. May his soul rest in peace.
My heart is broken for my friends and neighbors Steve and Karen Kesler and for the little boys and their mother. I went to one of Eric’s performances in South Carolina. Such a beautiful voice. I am praying for Korine and children, that somehow in all this they can find the peace of God.
The thought of Eric’s bright light not being a part of our lives on a regular basis still seems so hard to believe. He was such a gifted teacher, an eloquent speaker, an inspirational colleague and a cherished friend. His voice was so expressive and touched so many. Heartfelt condolences to all beloved ones and especially, I pray for his family, that they find the love, support and strength to deal with this loss, and the journey which will help them find solace, understanding and peace.
A favorite son. Our hearts are broken. We are blessed to have the promise that we will see him again. Prayers for Steve and Karen, Natalie, David and family and special prayers for Korinne, Samson and Sawyer. We love you.
On behalf of all of us in the ROCHESTER ORATORIO SOCIETY we send our condolences and prayers to Korinne, Samson and Sawyer and all the family for the heartbreaking loss of our dear friend Eric. May he rest in peace.
Korinne & Family—I am so sorry for your loss. I sang with Eric in ROS and got to know his kindness and unique, southern sense of humor. He will be truly missed.
May Eric rest in Peace, and may God bring comfort to his family.