Edna Comerchero, a virtuoso flutist who performed professionally and taught students who became world-class performers, died Oct. 25 of complications from acute myeloid leukemia, her family said. She was 80.
Mrs. Comerchero was revered in the Sacramento music community for her classical European training and her discipline in teaching. After earning a piano degree from the University of Colorado, she studied the French flute tradition with renowned performer René Rateau and received a diploma in solfeggio from the Paris Conservatory, famed as a leading institution in the world for flutists.
She trained under legendary French flute master Marcel Moyse and performed with symphonies in the United States and Europe. She studied at Mozarteum University in Austria and earned a master's degree in flute from New England Conservatory of Music.
Mrs. Comerchero joined the faculty at the University of Iowa in 1957-58 and taught part time at California State University, Sacramento, from 1965 to 1975. With a husband and four children, however, she devoted most of her life to teaching flute and piano to students in her home.
She started giving private lessons in the early 1960s in Buffalo, N.Y., to Carol Wincenc, a 9-year-old prodigy. Today, Wincenc is an internationally acclaimed flutist and professor at the Juilliard School and Stony Brook University in New York.
"She was absolutely instrumental in my development," Wincenc said. "She made me do things over and over again until it was to perfection. I still have all her markings in my first copies of music."
After moving with her family to Sacramento in 1963, Mrs. Comerchero gave lessons to Gary Woodward, a neighbor in fourth grade who baby-sat her young children. He grew up to spend 25 years as principal flutist for the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, teach at the University of Southern California and perform with leading music and ballet groups.
"Every Saturday morning for eight years, I walked across the street for lessons from somebody who had studied at the Paris Conservatory, the mecca for flute players," Woodward said. "There is not a day that goes by that her influence doesn't come directly through me to my students and in my playing."
Mrs. Comerchero played the flute in orchestras and small ensembles throughout the Sacramento region. She performed with the Sacramento Symphony's demonstration group and belonged to the Camellia City Flute Choir for many years. She formed a group with flute, piano and cello called Primavera Trio and was active in music at St. Stephen's Lutheran Church in El Dorado Hills.
Born in 1932 in Austin, Texas, Edna Anna Simonds moved at an early age with her family and grew up in Denver. Her father was an engineer for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation who helped design Folsom Dam.
She lived in El Dorado Hills for many years with her husband, Victor Comerchero, a longtime English professor at Sacramento State. They married in 1960 and raised four sons, including Steven Comerchero, who died in 1986.
Mrs. Comerchero was a sweet, gentle woman who enjoyed sharing her talent with students, colleagues and audiences. She was "a light spirit" who had "a blissful quality to her soul," said her son Vincent Comerchero.
"Her eyes sparkled and she laughed frequently," he said. "Difficulties and tragedies did not weigh upon her. We'd walk in the hospital (shortly before her death) holding hands, and she'd say, 'Oh well, I've lived a great life.' "