Music professor honored with concert

Kali Persall,
Managing Editor

Cal State East Bay has lost an icon.

On June 23, Allen Gove, a Cal State East Bay professor emeritus of music, died in Castro Valley after he suffered two strokes last month, according to his daughter Carolyn Pexton. Gove was 86 and would have turned 87 at the end of July.

According to the CSUEB Office of Academic Affairs, Gove played the cello for 65 years and taught music at East Bay for almost 30. He arrived at East Bay in 1966, when it was known as Cal State Hayward, and he served as the chair of the music department from 1974 to 1981, before he retired in 1992.

Gove was well-known by many for his interest in chamber music, a form of classical music performed by a small ensemble — usually a string quartet, according to Pexton. During his career at East Bay, Gove established the school’s first chamber music program and library, which was later emulated by Humboldt State University, according to the Office of Academic Affairs.

Gove was a prankster, a family man and a devoted instructor, according to Pexton. She remembered how her father sat for hours at their dining room table with blank music paper, tailoring the arrangements to specific students and the challenges they faced.

“He treated each one in a special way,” said Pexton. “He didn’t have a cookie cutter approach to teaching music. He tried to tune into who that student was as a person and what they needed.” Pexton recalled her father often arrived at school early and stayed late, spending hours arranging music and mentoring students.

In a July 8 message from the music department, Mariko Abe, music department administrative support coordinator, said Gove was also an advocate for student rights during a budget crisis at East Bay.

“He wasn’t someone who would just check a box,” said Pexton. “He really stood up and voiced his opinions and really tried to make it better…and he did make it better. That was really the heyday of the Cal State music department, when my dad was chairman.”

Gove performed with the Oakland Symphony and played with iconic singers like Tony Bennett, Peggy Lee and Dionne Warwick, according to the Office of Academic Affairs. He also recorded music for Aaron Neville, the “Star Wars Trilogy” and the movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

After his retirement in 1992, Gove hosted private lessons at his Castro Valley home with up to 20 students per week, according to Pexton. Shortly before his hospitalization, he still taught six to seven students per week. Gove played in a chamber music quartet with several former students at his home just two days before he suffered the first stroke on June 11.

The family will host a celebration of Gove’s life in the form of a concert on Sunday at the Cal State East Bay Music Building Recital Hall.