Paul Binkley Remembered

Nov 18th 2014   

Paul Binkley was diagnosed with lung cancer in April of 2014 and passed away on November 12, 2014.

He was a founding member of the GRAMMY-nominated Modern Mandolin Quartet with Dana Rath, Matt Flinner and Adam Roszkiewicz. (Past members include Mike Marshall, John Imholtz, Dave Peters, Gyan Riley, Radim Zenkl and Chris Thile). The group set a new standard of music performaned on mandolin family instruments, toured throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe and recorded four CD’s for Windham Hill Records and two for Dorian Sono Luminus.

Paul played mandola in the group but it was his brilliant musical arrangements and deep understanding of classical music which set the group apart and did much to infuse it with it’s unique sound.

Paul was an extremely active freelance musician in the San Francisco Bay Area and gave many performances on a variety of plucked string instruments with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Contemporary Music Players, San Francisco Ballet Orchestra, and many other groups, in music ranging from baroque opera to modern chamber music.

Paul can be heard on contemporary music recordings for Opus One Records and Centaur Records. Other recording credits include mandolin on the San Francisco Symphony recording of Prokofiev's 'Romeo and Juliet' and Mahler’s Seventh Symphony (guitar) under the direction of Michael Tilson Thomas.

As a teacher, Paul worked at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music Preparatory Department, at The Hamlin School for Girls in San Francisco, at Mills College in Oakland, CA and had many private students at his studio in San Francisco CA.

Paul began his classical guitar studies in London, Ontario where he gave his first professional concerts before graduating from high school. Paul then spent two years studying jazz guitar at Berklee College of Music in Boston, which led to several years of playing with jazz and rock bands while teaching classical guitar during the day.

Paul then moved to San Francisco to complete his Bachelor of Music degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and his Master of Arts in Music at San Francisco State University, majoring in classical guitar performance.

Paul was a very special and unique person. He was very kind to everyone he met. He was conscious of right and wrong, and lived by that. He was brilliant, though he down-played that side of himself, very approachable, funny, and generous. His family, friends, colleagues and students will miss him deeply.

Here’s a brief excerpt of a letter that Mike Marshall wrote to him just before his passing.

“Paul, I just want to say how much our time that we worked together has meant to me. How much I learned from you about MUSIC, about arranging and playing and the history of classical music and interpretation and ALL of it.

How many great memories I will always cherish about our times together on the road and rehearsing and just being friends with that crazy band we had.

It was pretty damn fun time I must say, and you were always capable of keeping the vibe right where it needed to be no matter how wacky things may have gotten.

You are a soulful cat with a real depth to everything that I have seen you be a part of. You have dealt with people with respect and integrity and dignity.

I want to thank you for teaching me so much not only about music but also about how to behave with people and how to be a Real person yourself.

You are a good man with a gigantic heart and real soul.

Be well my friend and no matter how this fight you are going through turns out, just know that you have created a lot of goodness in this world and all of us will not forget how much you have given us and also what a damn good guitar and mandola picker you are.

Love and Be At Peace my brother.”

Mike Marshall