This dedicated page includes many heartfelt comments we’ve culled from Facebook posts. Those who knew Chris and would like to submit a remembrance or a photo should send them by email here. Read an obituary here. A memorial service/concert will be held on a date to be announced.
In a message posted on Sunday, April 26, Arts Renaissance Tremont Board President Fred Calatrello wrote:
It is with great regret and a heavy heart that I must inform you that Chris, our friend, colleague and the moving spirit behind ART, passed away last night with her husband at her bedside. I don’t have to tell any of you what a great loss this is not only for us but also for her many former students, her numberless friends in the musical community and, indeed, anyone who had the good fortune to know and work with her over the many years she lived in and served this community. We all know that in addition to husband, family and friends, Chris’ great passion over the past three decades has been ARTS RENAISSANCE TREMONT; not only did she create the organization but she worked year in and year out to secure funding and artists so that each year we could bring great music to audiences in N.E.Ohio. For Chis, this was truly a labour of love.
As many of you may know, Chris struggled with a serious illness over the past several years. She did appear to rally over the past year or so but a new course of medication she started early this spring did not have the hoped for beneficial impact. Obviously, it is too early for information about final arrangements and, of course, all that is complicated by the pandemic. In any event, I know that Chris, her husband and family will be in our thoughts and prayers.
— Fred Calatrello, Board President, Arts Renaissance Tremont
The Cleveland Orchestra and Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra (COYO) note the passing of former Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra manager Christine Haff-Paluck and extend our condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues. Ms. Haff-Paluck, who served as COYO manager from 1996 until 2003, spent more than forty years helping to inspire young people and adults through the power and passion of music.
As an educator, mentor to young musicians, concert presenter, and arts manager at the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and the Cleveland Institute of Music, Ms. Haff-Paluck nurtured countless young people on their musical journeys and provided memorable music experiences to Northeast Ohio audiences of all ages. In addition, nearly thirty years ago Ms. Haff-Paluck founded Arts Renaissance Tremont, a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for established and aspiring young artists to showcase their talents.
Through her dedication and generosity, Ms. Haff-Paluck tirelessly encouraged generations of musicians across the Cleveland area.
— Cleveland Orchestra & Cleveland Youth Orchestra (via Lauren Generette)
Words cannot describe the sorrow I feel to hear the news of my dear friend Chris Haff-Paluck passing. Chris has been my guardian angel since the day I arrived in Cleveland 18 years ago and gave me more love than I ever deserved. She presented my very first recital, held my hand every time I doubted myself, and believed in me more than I ever could. She was there every step of the way throughout my career and life. I would always tell her not to give everything to other people, and to save some energy for herself but she never listened. She gave and gave to the people around her.
I feel fortunate to have known her, and to have been able to call her a family. Hope you rest in peace, dearest Chris. You will be in my heart forever. I miss you.
— Jinjoo Cho
Chris was BRB’s first champion. She gave us our very first concert and was always recommending us to other series in the area and around the country. Her passion for music, musicians & Arts Renaissance Tremont and was truly something to admire. She will be so very missed.
— Heather Zweifel, Burning River Brass
Chris’s commitment to music in our community was extraordinary. She believed that music mattered, and that people wanted and needed it in and of their own community. She served music and all of us with her characteristic good humor and her unwavering belief in young people and in the arts as living and breathing right here and now. She reminded us every day how music can be made right in our backyard, with limited resources, some hard work, and a lot of goodwill.
We trusted Chris to bring us together and to further the role of music in this deeply musical community. She did it with Youth Orchestras, at our two amazing conservatories and in her ongoing role as presenter of our deep local musical talent.
Cleveland has lost a treasure. Her shoes will be hard to fill.
— Darrett Adkins
I met Chris Haff-Paluck when I became the pianist/keyboardist of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra (COYO) in 1997. Immediately, I was struck by her warm smile, generous kindness, and passion. As the manager of COYO, she loved each of the students individually and collectively. She provided the backbone support that allowed the ensemble to make music at the highest level. She was passionate about music, education, and community. She believed that the gift of music must be shared and passed down. Chris encouraged COYO students to play chamber music as it would help them to be better musicians, communicators, listeners, and advocates for the arts. Members of the Cleveland Orchestra coached the groups. She set up concerts for us at her Arts Renaissance Tremont (ART) Concert Series and outreach performances at various schools and assisted living communities. (I vividly remember hearing the youthful Mendelssohn String Octet, Op. 20 for the first time in my life– performed brilliantly by my COYO peers.)
Like many students who were fortunate to have been mentored and inspired by Chris, performing community service became a part of my identity as a musician. Passing on the music education I was privileged to receive became my vision. Sharing beauty with others became my mission. Like many others, I am forever indebted to her and her legacy.
Over the years, Chris’s belief in the power of music, in young musicians, and a community enriched by the arts only grew fervently. After I finished graduate school, she welcomed me back to Northeast Ohio and to her ART Concert Series with open arms. For my performances of Mozart and Beethoven quintets for piano and woodwinds – with members of the Cleveland Orchestra, Mary Lynch, Robert Woolfrey, Barrick Stees, and Richard King in 2014 and 2016 respectively – Chris wanted to make sure that there was an excellent piano for me. (Raising money to restore ART’s piano at the Pilgrim Church had been one of her long-term projects). She wanted the great composers’ works to be justified in the gorgeous acoustics of the Church. Thus, Chris managed for a generous loan of a finer instrument to be available for my concerts. Her charming wince at the thought of movers lifting the 9-foot grand piano over the many steps of the church is especially memorable. Even more special is remembering that her eyes would sparkle in delight each time she heard music at that church.
Chris shared her love generously and as a result, brought the joy of music to people of all ages. She was indefatigable. She was beloved. She will always be loved and cherished. May the light that she gave in all who knew her continue to shine. Rest in peace, Chris.
With my eternal gratitude and affection.
— Cicilia Yudha
Chris and I met almost forty-three years ago at a music camp in Hudson, Ohio held at Western Reserve Academy and from that time onward she delighted in sometimes calling me “Harley” Davidson, (not that I had any affinity for motorcycles whatsoever). Because her feet were planted so firmly on the ground, it almost became a way for her to kid mine back to earth if I gave in to any kind of pretense.
Chris embodied the exhortation Shakespeare put into the mouth of Polonius in HAMLET which we know all too well: “to thine own self be true.” She didn’t have to work at this because she was always true to herself, she was always fiercely authentic. Chris loved great music played splendidly and she was dedicated to sharing that love because she knew its transformative power. She was devoted to young people and worked tirelessly and zealously, to provide them authentic experiences with music and the people who could help them make it: how could we not be friends! Chris and I were afforded the opportunity to work closely together on several occasions over the years: as manager and conductor of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, and also at Oberlin and CIM. Her loyal support helped provide me with some of my most enduring musical experiences. The recent concert of her beloved series: “Arts Renaissance Tremont” brought together two of my musical ‘children’: Cicilia Yudha and Darrett Adkins.
We were connected at the heart.
Chris was a believer and had an indomitable sense of what was right, fair and just. Our world so needs Chris to be in it! However, life does not always go easy on someone with such clarity about what one believes and knows to be right and true, and my old and dear friend suffered at times for this devotion to her vision. Though we continued to correspond by e-mail, I missed seeing Chris in recent years and now that possibility is no more. Yet, I do ‘see’ her in the lives she touched and enriched, including my own. Thank you for everything Chris. I shall miss you.
— Harry Davidson, Professor of the Practice of Music, Duke University
Music Director and Conductor, The Duke Symphony Orchestra
Music Director and Conductor of Opera, The Cleveland Institute of Music
Chris brought fierce commitment to whatever artistic task she embraced. Her stewardship of Arts Renaissance Tremont was a sterling example of devotion to eloquent music and to the people who perform and listen to it. Her indelible contributions to Northeast Ohio’s musical life benefited so many, and her strength and spirit will continue to inspire us.
— Donald Rosenberg
Chris’s tireless and passionate advocacy of music and musicians young and old cannot be replaced. We are all a little poorer for her passing,
— Bill O’Connell, Program Director, WCLV/ideastream
She gave numerous performance opportunities to many of my students in their early stages of development as Young Artists (Photo: pianists from the Cleveland Institute of Music Young Artist Program – ca. 1992). Our shared love for classical music tradition in Cleveland, cemented by the Orchestra under George Szell, and mutual respect for honesty in a person’s character cemented our lifetime friendship.
Chris was a true ambassador of music. What a loss of a great soul!
— Olga Radosavljevich, Piano Faculty Emeritus, Cleveland Institute of Music
Here is a photo with Chris and colleagues Erica Brenner (recording engineer and videographer), and my partner Walter Green (graphics design) taken in 2016 when they were recognized for their work together for Arts Renaissance Tremont’s 25th anniversary CD release. From left to right is Walter Green, Fred Calatrello, George Faddoul, Barb Sper Conte, Robert Schneider, Erica Brenner and Chris.
Chris was one of the first people I met when I arrived in Cleveland in 1981 and she adored and worked very closely with Walter. We are both very saddened. I am recording a personal tribute to Chris with Scott Haigh of the Cleveland Orchestra and will publish it soon on my social media and on YouTube.
— Geraldo Teissonnière, Cleveland Institute of Music
I don’t remember not knowing Chris. We first met back in the 80s in the Canton Symphony when I was a new kid on the block. She was so supportive and always would say things like “good job.” Chris was an important part of getting the Trinity Chamber Orchestra off the ground. I remember when she told me about this “idea” she had about starting her own concert series in the Tremont neighborhood. Arts Renaissance Tremont became one of the first supporters of Clevelandclassical.com. Chris wanted everyone to succeed. And for the past eleven years, whenever we would talk about topics for ART articles I asked time and time again if I could write about her, the driving force behind the organization. She always refused and her answer was the same. “I don’t want it to be about me,” she’d say, “I want it to be about the music.” That was Chris.
— Mike Telin
Chris played bass in Trinity Chamber Orchestra from its inception, and grounded the ensemble with her utterly reliable musicianship, faultless intonation, and infallible sense of rhythm. Later, she served as contractor for the group and always found the best and most agreeable players to fill out the roster when we needed them. I admired her for founding Arts Renaissance Tremont and programming the series with Northeast Ohio’s most distinguished musicians, and will always remember presenting the first half of Bach’s Matthew Passion at Pilgrim (part two followed the next evening at Trinity Cathedral.) Chris’s advocacy of young musicians remains legendary. She leaves a major void in Cleveland’s classical music scene.
— Daniel Hathaway
I am privileged to have known Chris Haff Paluck as principal bassist with the Akron Symphony, with the William Appling Singers, with Daniel Hathaway’s Trinity Chamber Orchestra, and in other ways, often through headphones. Most recently, almost thirty years ago, with Jim Meyers and other friends, she began what came to be Arts Renaissance Tremont in what is a remarkable acoustical as well as visual space.
Chris devoted her life to giving talented young musicians an opportunity to further their careers. An example is JinJoo Cho, a fourteen-year-old Korean girl who has now a world stage. Her similar role at CIM is well appreciated by students and faculty there.
ART has been a wonderful opportunity with Chris and our colleagues to be involved with great music making all these years. She held us all to the highest standard.
Thank you Chris for being a loving friend.
— George Faddoul
Saddened to learn of the passing of Chris Haff-Paluck – what an incredible mark she left on the Cleveland area, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the music world. She always had a smile and a joke to share! Rest in peace, dear soul.
— David von Behren
Music bio below by Matt Flynn:
For more than forty years, Chris Haff-Paluck has been an educator, mentor to young musicians, concert presenter and arts manager at the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the Cleveland Institute of Music, and the founder and moving spirit of Arts Renaissance Tremont (ART). She has been dedicated to providing great music at no cost to audiences of all ages throughout Northeast Ohio. And she has done all this and more without the benefit of a large supporting organization and without the slightest thought of personal remuneration or recognition. Through her crowning achievement, Arts Renaissance Tremont, the non-profit organization Chris created 28 years ago, she established a yearly program of free classical music concerts. Through ART she has not only given established musicians, but also aspiring young artists an additional venue to showcase their talents. It’s no exaggeration to say that generations of musicians and literally thousands of concert goers have been the beneficiaries of Chris’ unselfish commitment to enhancing the musical experience of music lovers of every age in our community including seniors at retirement communities and children at local elementary schools.
As many of you in our music community have heard we lost our friend and colleague Chris Haff- Paluck this week. Many of us-including Sarah Adams and myself, have known her since we were very young and she was our counselor at Summer Music Experience. That summer I had the honor of playing the Trout Quintet with her and we bonded then and there as she in her own funny, kind and wonderful way, gently cajoled me to focus and learn as a very young violinist. Over the years she made it her mission to connect young musicians with audiences, and was a friend and mentor to so many. Her connections in the Cleveland and Northeastern Ohio region to underserved audiences came from her belief in the unfailing power of music to lift us and transform us.
That was her guiding light and value: music as a conduit for love and caring.
Dearest Chris, you will be so desperately missed, thank you for your spirit and unflagging devotion to music and musicians. With love always, Annie Schmannie.
— Annie Fullard
The music world has lost a truly generous and passionate voice. Chris Haff Paluck, founder of Arts Renaissance Tremont will always be remembered for sharing her passion with countless students and colleagues and such a wide audience of listeners. Chris helped launch careers, brought the finest music to listeners of all ages and classes, and understood the power of music to connect and to heal. Our hearts are breaking as we remember a hero in the Cleveland classical music scene. This video gives a glimpse into her mission.
You can also visit https://artconcerts.org/media/ to see some of the wonderful music ART presented.
RIP dear friend. I know you and Robert Schneider are keeping the heavens musically rich.
— Erica Brenner
Chris was a very dear friend of mine. My heart aches. We worked together for the benefit of ART. ART was her love and she gave it everything she had. She was stepping up her efforts to bring more concerts to seniors at the Renaissance and Rocky River Senior Center. She gave young artists the chance to perform. She was an inspiration to many. I will miss her very much.
— Barb Sper
My heart breaks to see that Chris has left us. She has been a very dear friend for many, many years. I will miss her and that wonderful smile of hers.
Chris helped me bring the joy of classical music to the seniors of Homewood Residence and I was happy to work out arrangements with my parent company to provide transportation for CIM students so they could perform.
ART was her love and she gave it everything she had. I know she will be missed.
— Linda Ceslewski DeLozier
Very sad news. I’m honored to have played a small role in the beginning of ARTS Tremont. She was wonderful in providing me opportunities to perform and try my own music visions. I am truly saddened by this news.
— Ryan Anthony
A devastating loss. She was like no one else in Cleveland. So much of my own work as a performer and educator was informed by her tireless efforts to connect musicians to audiences of all ages and walks of life. She will be missed.
— Ariel Karaś
I was so sad to hear that Chris Haff-Paluck had passed away. She was simply the best. ALWAYS working so hard to bring musicians to our community in so many many ways. She never tired of working for what she believed was right, esp. when it came to helping students find their ways to becoming proud contributors to the larger community outside of school. I can’t remember a time when I would go to CIM that she wasn’t in her office, inundated in work, to keep an enormous web of music connectivity alive. And then she was in Tremont or I would see her at Judson, bringing groups there.
It seems wrong that a person so wonderful had to die so early.
— Isabel Trautwein
Deeply saddened to hear of the death of a longtime friend, colleague, mover and shaker in the music world in Cleveland. Chris Haff Paluck had a vision to bring great music to an underserved neighborhood and now look at how the Tremont area is thriving, in large part because of her contribution, partnerships and vision for this place and these people. What a difference she made in the lives of so many. Rest In Peace my friend and let your vision flourish and grow. We are all better humans for having known you.
— Mary Kay Robinson
Chris was an extraordinary person and soul in every way. Her work touched the lives of so many!!
— Franklin Cohen
Chris was wonderful and passionate about music both as a performer and an impresario! I always enjoyed knowing her and working with her. This is sad news.
— Gary Adams
Horrible news…She was amazing and did so much w/ so little for so many. What a loss!!!
— Scott Garlock
This news is very sad. Chris was always such a wonderful person who contributed so much to our musical and artistic community. I knew her well from the time I began my studies at CIM. May her memory be for a blessing.
— Steven Greenman
Chris spoke truth to power. I remember her significant contributions on behalf of the musicians of the Akron Symphony during tumultuous times.
— Rich Dee
I’ve thought about her recently…missed her when she visited ASO. She contributed so much to the greater musical community, and that was only what I was aware of. She’d pop up all over the place, and was a great promoter of many talents.
— Steve Ostrow
She was the real deal — a tireless worker for music and musicians in NE Ohio. She will be missed.
— Jane Pitman
Chris was such a good-hearted and effective organizer. Her efforts in building the Tremont series were so important. I respected and liked her, and had missed seeing her around in recent years. I’m sorry our community has lost her, and sympathize with her friends and family.
— Elaine Guregian
She is one of the greatest people I’ve known and she made me laugh hysterically when we were stand partners.
— Ann C. Gilbert
Chris was always a wonderful advocate for my students and I enjoyed my discussions with her and working with her very much over the years.
— Michael Sachs
She had a wonderful series in Tremont. She invited my children’s chorus and William Clarence Marshall many years ago. A wonderful person always helping the community and furthering opportunities for artists. Also always so approachable and easy to talk to.
— Dianna White-Gould
I feel very fortunate and lucky to have known her, even if it was for a short time. She brought a lot of joy to the community and to the Rocky River Senior Center with her Arts Tremont Concerts.
— Laurel Schaefer
I’ve known Chris as a great friend and colleague since meeting her in the early 90s. A woman of enormous gifts and devotion to humanity. May her memory be for a blessing.
— Wendy Caron Zohar
I loved Chris. She was a wonderful, warm human being. I worked with her both at the Cleveland Orchestra and Oberlin and every interaction with her was a pleasure. The world just got poorer again.
— Peter Laki
Chris was tireless, always helping to connect musicians with our community in so many ways. She always had a way to bring music to spaces that wanted it. She drove students herself and gave them food and encouragement, whichever was needed. She found time to organize and organize and give and support.
I didn’t know she was ill, which feels terrible. I hope she died in peace. She truly deserves the best that heaven has to offer.
— Isabel Trautwein
I’ve never encountered a bass player with a better sense of where to place the beat.
— Virginia Steiger
What a beautiful star in the Cleveland classical scene. And a wonderful person overall. Tears in my eyes.
I am shocked and saddened by the passing of Chris. She was such a passionate advocate for student outreach programming at The Cleveland Institute of Music, during the time she was working there. I would ask her come and speak to the CIM guitar studio about outreach performing at the beginning of every school year. This is a terrible loss to the Cleveland musical community.
— Jason Vieaux
The Northeast Ohio music community has suffered a great loss. No one worked harder than Chris Haff Paluck when it came to music and young musicians. I knew Chris when I was archivist at Severance Hall and she was with The Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra. We shared many deep conversations, especially during the renovation of the Hall. Chris always provided a shoulder and a sympathetic ear if needed. Of course Chris’s crowning achievement was the founding and managing of Arts Renaissance Tremont. For nearly 30 years she presented chamber concerts of variety and depth at Pilgrim Congregational Church in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood. Chris truly reached out to the community and expressed her passion for music in so many ways. She will be sorely missed. Thank you for providing this way to express our sorrow.
— Carol Jacobs
In 2013, I became acquainted with Chris and started assisting her with the Arts Renaissance Tremont concert series. Chris was one of the most appreciative people with whom I have ever worked. She would constantly express her thanks to me, both in person and through emails and texts. She and I also had many wonderful conversations together. She made a point of telling people that I did not work for her, but that she and I worked together.
In her last message to me on March 21st, she mentioned “How quickly life changes and how we take everything for granted.”
In the recent months, the entire world is being reminded on a consistent basis how fragile life truly is. What we should hopefully be learning these days is that we never know what the next day or even the next hour will bring. Everything we see and hear now will eventually vanish right in front of us. We should be focusing on what we cannot see, which will truly last forever.
— Caleb Nelson
It was quite a surprise to receive a call from Chris Haff-Paluck expressing an opportunity for CIM students to perform for our youth detained at the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center. Not one, but, three concerts were scheduled between 2011-2012. The youth were captivated by the performances! I truly appreciated Chris Haff-Paluck’s conscientious effort to introduce our residents to a music genre they might not have thought about or experienced performed by CIM students.
I’m grateful for Chris Haff-Paluck’s interest in sharing the gift of classical music to an audience that might otherwise be forgotten. Her insightful thoughtfulness will never be forgotten.
Jacqueline Brackett, Volunteer Coordinator
Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center
I went to high school with Chris —we were in the same church group and the same band in North Olmsted. I so much enjoyed reconnecting with her over the last couple years. The music she helped create was so beautiful and so was her soul.
— Doug Van Auken
I first knew Chris during her days as manager of the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra. Very nice to converse with. Both our sons were COYO members – one french horn and one viola. They both loved her. I’ve been in the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus for many years and saw her from time to time around Severance. I will never forget a Messiah performance – just as I was about to step through the door to go onstage, she caught me and whispered, “Go out there and wail!” Wish I had a picture of the look on my face. A beautiful person… Requiescat in Pacem, Chris.
— Tremaine Oatman
This sad news… Chris and I were classmates and colleagues. She always put the students interests first — always — and was tireless in her musical causes. My condolences to her family and friends.
— Paul Yancich
About 8 years ago, through our friendship, Chris took The Musical Arts Series/Port Clinton under her wing and provided us with a stream of presentations well beyond what we had a right to expect in our small community. We enjoyed what ART enjoyed and she brought our level of anticipation up a good many notches. And to this day (and into the future) we annually present a concert with students from CIM, all thanks to her friendship, generosity and kindness. What a lovely lady! Thanks, yet Sorrow, Sorrow.
— Paul C. Moon, Musical Arts Series/Port Clinton
The photo was taken in October 2018 when I visited Cleveland, glad I had a chance to catch her ART concert series in Tremont, OH.
— Yi-Fang Wu
We’ve suffered an irreplaceable loss with the passing of Chris. We will all miss her, her smile, and her spirit in bringing the Arts to so many in Norteast Ohio.
Personally devastated by this news – Chris gave so much to our CLEMetroSchools with concerts for Denison, Scranton, Tremont schools and Cleveland Public Library.
I met Chris in 1973 at CIM. We were both bass students and stayed good friends thru the years. But I left the states in 1978 for Europe and stayed there and am now retired after playing for the Hungarian State Opera for 30 years. Before that I played in Germany.
I didn’t get back to the states very often, but always looked up Chris. She always welcomed me like family. She was there for me as a best friend when I lost my mother in 86, my father in 92, and my sister in 2012.
— Laura McCreery
Chris and I met when we both worked for The Cleveland Orchestra. I was in development, and one of the groups for which I raised money was the Youth Orchestra, which she managed. It was such a pleasure to collaborate with Chris and with the talented young musicians she loved.
Chris was such a lover of life! Her tireless devotion to the arts will be remembered by all of us whose lives she touched. I remember so fondly playing many Nutcrackers sitting next to Chris in the State Theatre pit, always with a smile on her face, no matter what was happening on the podium!
My deepest sympathies to Gerry and Chris’s family. Dear Chris, we miss you so much. May God hold you in the palm of His hand.