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Obituary: Arlene Sagan '51

Resident of Berkeley, CA,  Arlene Rima Sagan, Music Director Emeritus of the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra, and Bella Musica Chorus, died peacefully in her home, on July 5, 2012, in the presence of family and loved ones. Arlene was born on June 25, 1928 in New York, the first child of and Anna (Tow)and Isadore Kaufman. She attended Antioch College, where she met her husband Eugene. The two were married on January 4, 1948, and in 1955, moved into the home on Santa Clara Avenue where Arlene raised her three boys, Bruce, David, and Alan. While raising her children, Arlene became active in Berkeley's music community. She graduated with honors from the University of California, and held an MA degree in education and musicology from California State University Hayward. For over 50 years Arlene conducted choral and instrumental groups throughout California, including the 12-member Point Richmond Singers, the Bella Musica Chorus, and the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra. She led the BCCO as Artistic Director and Conductor for 23 years, from 1988 until her retirement in 2011. She was also the founder, in 1995, of Bella Musica Chorus, a 20-40 voice chamber chorus that performed works both a cappella and with orchestra. She retired as Artistic Director and Conductor of Bella Musica in 2012. Arlene was involved with numerous other community music activities: she served as a staff member of the UC Berkeley Young Musician's Program; Director of Children's Programs at KPFA-FM; conductor of the Revels Bell Choir; Music Director of the East Bay Chapter of the American Recorder Society; coordinator of the introductory program at Cazadero Music Camp; and conductor for the El Haefronaim Choral Group, the Jewish Women's Chorus, and the Sine Nomine Singers. This extensive community service was recognized in 2011 by the City of Berkeley, which declared Ms Sagan a "Local Legend," a cultural icon defined as "one of those wonderful people who embody the aspirations and ideals of Berkeley." In 2006 she was also the recipient of the Berkeley Community Fund Award for her contributions to the community. Arlene fervently believed that everyone could take part in fellowship and pleasure created through music, and her enthusiasm and unique teaching skills brought joy to people's lives. Arlene was preceded in death by son Alan Sagan. She is survived by son Bruce Sagan of Ann Arbor, Michigan, son David Sagan of Ithaca, New York, and by granddaughter Avital, daughter of David and Lesli Sagan, and granddaughter Naomi Sagan, daughter of Alan and Sharon Sagan, by sister Iris Rosenstrauch of Rodondo Beach, Florida, and sister Stephanie Butler, of Chicago. She will be buried at Mountain View Cemetery on Thursday, July 12, at 1:00 pm. A memorial service to honor Arlene's memory is planned for October.