Korg USA president Michael “Mike” Kovins passed away on May 2, 2006, after a long battle with leukemia. Kovins began his career in the music industry at Sam Ash, first in its educational department and then in its Long Island, N.Y., store. In 1973, he joined Tolchin Instruments, where he was involved in setting up the first nationally distributed catalog for music educators. Upon leaving Tolchin in 1976, Kovins went to work at M. Hohner Inc., hired by then VP of sales, Joe Bredau (Korg USA’s current VP marketing and sales), to run its Orff-Schulwerk Division. When Hohner decided to move to Richmond, Va., Kovins went to work at Unicord.
At Unicord, he was instrumental in launching such products as the Korg Polysix, Mono/Poly, GT-6 Tuner and Marshall JCM800 Series. He later went on to become one of the founding members of Korg USA and, as executive VP, led the introduction of the Korg M1 music workstation. As president, he oversaw the introduction of a succession of products, such as the Korg TRITON and, most recently, the Korg OASYS.
Always a strong advocate and supporter of music education, Kovins was instrumental in creating Korg USA’s SoundTree educational division and was the founder and an executive committee member of TI:ME (Technology Institute for Music Educators). He was a recipient of Berklee College of Music’s Golden Clef Award for Lifetime Commitment to Music Education, the Julia E. Crane International Medallion for Lifetime Achievement in the Music Products Industry and the Distinguished Alumnus Award 2006 of the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami for his outstanding achievement in the music industry.
He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Katherine. A private service was held on Long Island on May 5 and the family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, a donation in Kovins’ memory be made to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (www.leukemia.org).