In Memoriam: Elspeth Poultney Wissner '02 and Dr. Anicet Mundundu '05

It is with great sorrow that we share the news of the passing of Elspeth Poultney Wissner and Dr. Anicet Mundundu, who earned degrees from the Department of Music at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Elspeth Poultney Wissner, 75, received her MA from the University of Pittsburgh in 2002. In the words of Dr. Deane Root, Professor Emeritus of Music, University of Pittsburgh,  “Elspeth was a joy to work and talk with as a student, a supporting staff member, and a friend.  When she approached me with an idea for a master's thesis I wasn't sure how to help her with the project she envisioned, but we found a way and she wrote a helpful study of cantorial practice in Pittsburgh Jewish congregations. Later, as a staff member in the Dean's office, she was always welcoming, patient, and prompt in responding to needs of individual faculty and departments.  And I vividly recall her enthusiasm for holding a baby shower for a Music grad student; she and George helped make it a great success, and her pavlova was a hit of the evening.  She has touched so many lives in so many positive ways that they can't be recounted, but they are all have made a positive difference in our lives.  May her memory always be for a blessing.”  

Dr. Anicet Mundundu, 62, received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005. In the words of  Dr. Andrew Weintraub, Professor of Music, University of Pittsburgh, “Anicet Mundundu was a multi-talented musician who performed traditional music, popular music, religious music, and art music equally well. As the instructor for the Pitt African Music and Dance Ensemble, (PAMDE), he introduced hundreds of Pitt students to various styles of music, dance, and other artistic expressions of Africa. PAMDE concerts under his direction were always exciting and well-attended events that brought together university and community members from diverse places, spaces, and races throughout Pittsburgh. In addition to being an extraordinary musician and teacher, Anicet was a fine scholar. His doctoral dissertation was a study of the Umoja African Arts Company, a Pittsburgh-based group of African immigrants that performs music and dance from various parts of Africa. His study applied the theories and methods of ethnomusicology to a community-based musical practice and connected the university with the larger Pittsburgh community. His dissertation, entitled “The Recontextualization of African Music in the United States: A Case Study of Umoja African Arts Company” (2005)  is a pioneering example of public ethnomusicology."

On behalf of the Faculty, Staff, and Students of the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Music, we express our deepest sympathies to the friends and families of Elspeth Poultney Wissner and Dr. Ancient Mundundu.