Timothy D. Ballan, 35, died on Thursday, April 9, 2020. Born in Springfield, he grew up in East Longmeadow. He was a 2003 graduate of East Longmeadow High School. He attended Syracuse University, Worcester State University, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and earned a Bachelor's Degree from UMass Amherst.
Tim was a man of immense creativity and many passions. He was especially in his element when two of these in particular – music and service – could be combined. For several years, he worked at after school and summer camp programs of the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of Springfield and Greater Westfield, where he developed a music program and was beloved by the countless children whom he guided in expressing themselves musically. An aficionado of percussion instruments from around the world, he led drumming circles at these clubs and at numerous schools and senior residences across western Massachusetts. Wherever he went, he brought with him his enormous bags containing an extensive collection of flutes and percussion instruments, from which he shared freely. Most recently, he had brought his talents to the students of Mill Pond Schools in Springfield and Richmond, Chestnut Academy, as well as RFK Academy in Springfield, where he worked until shortly before the time of his death.
Tim had many private piano students, some of whom he instructed in their homes, others of whom he taught via Skype, having been certified in piano pedagogy through North Dakota State University. In Tim’s eyes, there was no child who could not be reached through the power of music.
Tim studied music composition at Syracuse University, and while his studies in music theory and history there would prove invaluable later in life, the academicism of composition studies left him cold. Music, for Tim, was first and foremost a language of emotion. Ever since he became seriously interested in neo-classical music in high school, he was especially drawn to film music in particular, and from his teenage years he chafed at the idea that this type of music was somehow inferior to more “serious” compositions. The film composers he most admired earned his affection for their unabashed emotionalism. He emulated this quality in his own film scores, which he wrote for a number of independent short films, as well as in his more than 100 freestanding compositions.
Tim was an accomplished pianist and also proficient as a clarinetist, flutist, and percussionist. His compositions, however, include works for a variety of ensembles of different sizes and instrumentations. He took delight, not merely in composing, but in performing his own compositions and those of others, which he did most recently through the "Art Stops" program in Springfield and as a member of the ensemble Trés Classique.
Tim’s aesthetic sensibility extended to the natural world. He loved the landscapes of New England and often lamented their destruction at the hands of real estate developers. He volunteered as a property steward with the Trustees of Reservations as well as with the Greater Worcester Land Trust. Though his work and his friendships took him all over the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, he preferred to travel by back roads rather than interstates, eschewing the speed and efficiency of the latter (vastly overrated qualities of contemporary society, to his mind) in favor of the beauty and potential surprises promised by the former.
Tim will be remembered by former students, colleagues, family, and friends for his unique, inimitable sense of humor. His predilection for the absurd and the bizarre can be seen in the short stories he wrote and in longer works of fiction such as A History of Text Messages sent to a Baby Clam (Without One Response): A Story for Crazy Babies. These stories, together with more serious philosophical reflections as well as recordings and scores of his music, can be found on his website: timothyballan.com. The website also includes a number of poems written by Tim, one of which concludes as follows: “Let the collective wound of the desperate throughout time bind and comfort us.”
Most of all, however, Tim will be remembered as a kind, gentle, and thoughtful soul who was always ready and willing to listen to, support, and laugh with those closest to him.
Tim is survived by his parents David and Darlene (Lindblom) Ballan of Fiskdale, MA, his brother Joseph Ballan and his wife Anna and their four sons, August, Ezra, Henning, and Kai, all of Helsingborg, Sweden, and his sister Emily Ballan of West Springfield. Aunts and Uncles: Daniel and Annie Ballan, David and Sue Lindblom, Dennis and Genie Lindblom, Duane and Carol Lindblom, and many cousins and close friends.
A celebration of Tim's life will take place at a future date. Wilbraham Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 199 Water St., New York, NY 10038 or online at www.afsp.org or to a charity of one's choice.
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