Marika Fischer Hoyt died February 22, 2023, after an exhausting struggle with glioblastoma. She was 60 years old (born April 11, 1962) and is survived by husband William (Bill) and daughters Mara and Wilhelmina (Mina), mother Jennie Lee Fischer, and siblings Paul, Laura Lee, Barbara, and Lawrence Fischer.
Marika was a fixture in Madison classical music circles. She was a founding member of the Ancora String Quartet and played viola in the Madison Symphony Orchestra and a number of other music ensembles, including Madison Bach Musicians, Sonata à Quattro, Madison Early Music Festival, Fort Wayne Bach Collegium and others. A champion of classical music and Bach lover, she served as Artistic Director for Madison's Bach Around the Clock (BATC) festival and co-founded the Just Bach series of monthly noon concerts at Luther Memorial Church in Madison. She hosted the radio show "Saturday Afternoon Classics" on Wisconsin Public Radio from 2012–2016 and delivered pre-concert lectures for the Madison Symphony Orchestra.
Marika grew up in Highland Park, New Jersey, the fourth of five siblings in a musical family. In high school, she attended Interlochen Arts Academy where she studied viola with David Holland. She majored in music at Smith College and spent her junior year abroad in Hamburg and acquired a lifelong love of Germany. Marika received her MMus in Viola performance from Indiana University in Bloomington, where she married Bill Hoyt in 1988. They moved to Richmond, Virginia, where Marika played in the Richmond Symphony. Their son Truman was born in Richmond on April 26, 1994, but died at age three months. Daughter Mara was born August 15, 1995 in Ames, Iowa where Marika founded a string quartet and played with the Des Moines Symphony. The Hoyts settled in Madison, Wisconsin in 1999, and daughter Mina was born on October 3, 1999.
Marika was simultaneously impish and a driving force. She developed new musical systems and organizations to accommodate the ever-expanding scope of her vision. As the artistic director of Bach Around the Clock, she enlarged its reach to a multi-day festival with local, regional and national performers. She developed Sonata à Quattro, a music ensemble to provide accompaniment to BATC performers. She then co-developed the Just Bach series to offer Bach year-round to the Madison community. Marika performed, contracted, developed and produced with dedication and fervor. She brought these same qualities to teaching Bible studies to her children, niece and nephews. She also served as Madison Monthly Meeting’s first First Day School coordinator, enlarging and systematizing the congregation’s commitment to religious education.
In 2018, with her sister-in-law, mezzo soprano Melinda Paulsen and the Ancora String Quartet, Marika toured Germany and the United States, performing at town halls, concert halls, churches and a music school, an event entitled German-American Dreams (Deutsch-Amerikanische Träume). In 2021, she realized another dream of living in Germany for a year with Bill while he was on sabbatical in Freiburg.
Marika was passionate about life, music, and family and gave 150% to everything she did. She loved music of many genres, the color purple, Germany, Hungary and chocolate. Time with family and friends was precious and she gave full attention to anyone she was with.
Marika brought a generosity of spirit and her own unique exuberance and delight to every encounter. She was a champion and defender of beauty in its many forms. She had a gift for seeing value in others, nurturing connection, and creating community. She will be deeply missed by her myriad musician friends and colleagues, her family, and all whose lives she touched.
A memorial service for Marika will be held on Saturday, April 8, 2-3:30pm at First Unitarian Society Meeting House in Madison (900 University Bay Drive). A musical prelude will begin at 1:30pm, and there will be a reception following the service. The service will be live streamed on Facebook - link below.
In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you. Buddha