Upham's Corner Online

Reflecting on the Life of Sean Roberts

Posted: January 5, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

I, Nancy Conrad, had a chance to work with Sean Roberts briefly.  He touched me deeply.  This is my personal reflection on the life of a man who will be missed in Upham's Corner.

A couple years ago I had a curious encounter at our local grocery store, Brothers Market II.  Deeply engrossed in the produce section, I barely heard a voice calling out to me.  Turning around, I discovered a tall, stately gentleman with a full head of long hair, brushed straight back. "You don't look like you belong here," he said.  "Are you from this neighborhood?"

"Of course I'm from this neighborhood!"  He wore a broad smile and sparkling eyes. We spoke briefly and he told me he lived on Jones Hill and frequented the market often.  If he told me his name, I certainly didn't remember.  I was more interested in buying my veggies.

He was right.  I did look out of place but so did he.  Most of the people shopping in the store were Hispanic or Cape Verdean.  And he was right #2.  More people from the neighborhood should be shopping here.  It felt like he was on a personal crusade to promote Upham's Corner and to get people to frequent the businesses here. This man's commitment to the community was obvious but who was he?

In December 2010, I wanted to promote "Dorchester Christmas at the Strand" in the Upham's Corner News and this led to conversations with a man named Sean Roberts who was the Executive Director of the Boston Classical Orchestra.  He had a dream, he said, that the wonderful theater located at the foot of the hill where he lived would one day be home to performances of the orchestra he loved so much.
Sean Roberts
Organizing the 2010 event at the Strand was risky.  Sean told me so.  After all, we are talking about Dorchester, not Faneuil Hall where attendees pay big bucks to hear classical music performances they deeply appreciate.  And how do you get the word out and get the theater filled?

Such hurdles didn't stop Sean.  Miracles he commanded to fund the event, and hard work to get the word out to fill the theater. I remember Sean's driving enthusiasm.  I remember how much work Sean put into the event. - creating special flyers, partnering with local businesses to sell tickets, a program with ads by local businesses and groups.

I remember how much he motivated me to support his efforts – distributing flyers, advertising the event in UC News and doing a special article on the Boston Classical Orchestra.

I remember the day I finally got to meet Sean face-to-face - at the concert.  And what did he say to me?  "You're the lady from the market!"

And I remember the concert.  It was wonderful!

It wasn't until the following October that I learned of Sean's passing.  The news was shocking - unimaginable - and left me feeling empty.  A humble, gentle visionary, enthusiastic about his home here in Upham's Corner, was gone. I could not imagine our community without him.

December 2011 brought the 2nd Boston Classical Orchestra "December at the Strand," a lovely collaboration with local young artist groups.  The musicians were engaging and their musicianship impeccable.  Smiles, laughter, listening and watching – everyone was fully absorbed in the sounds of the season. Sean Roberts - Reflecting on his Life

Following the performance, conductor Stephen Lipsitt talked about Sean.  "I miss him very much, too," he said. "Sean helped make this concert a reality."

"One month ago," he said, "this concert was not going to happen.  There was no funding, no organization and no Sean Roberts. 

Then an angel appeared.  A member of the BCO board, Bobbe Jacobson, remembered how much Sean loved the possibility of the orchestra at the Strand and agreed to provide funding for the event."  Through her Conductor's Circle gift she underwrote the performance. 

According to the program, "She sponsors this Family concert in honor of the valued contributions of Sean Roberts."

View December 12, 2011 Program
The Concert:  "Boston Classical Orchestra Celebrates the Season" - Review and photos

With deepest respect and admiration, Upham's Corner News and I, Nancy Conrad, offer you, Sean Roberts, our heart felt thanks. 
Your energy and imagination were such a blessing to Upham's Corner.

Sean Roberts passed away at home on September 12, 2011. 

Now that the holidays are past and the family has had time to mourn and regroup, a memorial service has been scheduled and the public is invited.

Memorial Service at 1pm
Saturday, January 14, 2011

St Mary's Episcopal Church
14 Cushing Ave
Dorchester MA
Sean Roberts - Reflecting on his Life
Friends and colleagues are invited to reminisce
at the more informal and social celebration of his life
that will follow at the nearby Roberts-Kunst home.

Sean Roberts - Reflecting on his LifeSean Roberts - Reflecting on his Life

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