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Eldonna L. May

(b Detroit, MI, Jan 1, 1929; d Detroit, MI, July 2010). American singer, educator, choral director, and composer. He worked tirelessly to promote and preserve the works of African American musicians through coalition building and artistic entrepreneurship by founding the Brazeal Dennard Chorale and cofounding the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s “Classical Roots” concert series in 1976. Dennard attended Highland Park Junior College (1954–56) and he received his undergraduate (1959) and master’s (1962) degrees in music education from Wayne State University. He first gained exposure to music through attending church choir rehearsals with his mother. He studied piano and voice with Dean Robert L. Nolan and later sang with the Robert Nolan Choir. His professional career began at age 17 as conductor of the Angelic Choir at Peoples Baptist Church in Detroit. From 1951 to 1953 he was responsible for the music for all chapel services while serving as a corporal in the US Army in Virginia. Beginning in ...


Elizabeth Forbes

revised by Kathleen Sewright

(Marie )

(b Birmingham, England, Jan 29, 1939). English soprano, vocal teacher/coach, and stage director. She studied at the Royal College of Music and the Juilliard School; while a student she made her professional debut in 1964 in the first New York performance of Kát’a Kabanová. Her Covent Garden debut in 1966 was as the First Lady in Die Zauberflöte, and she first sang with Sadler’s Wells Opera (later the English National Opera) as Micaëla in 1970. She appeared widely in the United States, and her repertory included Countess Almaviva, Mařenka, Mimì, Butterfly, Pamina, Tosca, Musetta, Nedda, and Hanna Glawari. Her voice has been described as strong and clear, yet warm, and her considerable talent as a singing actress has made her a leading interpreter of the operas by Leoš Janáček. Her recordings include Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors with the Royal Opera Covent Garden Orchestra and Chorus, and Britten’s ...


Bonnie E. Fleming

(b Harrisburg, PA, March 2, 1921; d Westport, CT, Sept 16, 2017). American singing actress, producer, stage director, and teacher. Possessing a wide range of performing skills, she was known for undertaking challenging operatic roles such as Birdie and Regina in Mark Blitzstein’s Regina (1949, 1953, and 1958) and Lizzie in Jack Beeson’s Lizzie Borden (1965). She worked on Broadway, in light opera, on radio and television, and at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Lewis attended Penn State University and was encouraged by its Glee Club director to audition for a scholarship at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she went on to study with Emilio de Gogorza. After her teacher suddenly left the Institute, Lewis auditioned and made her debut with the Philadelphia Opera Company at the age of 19 in the role of the Marschallin in Richard Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier. A remarkably quick study, Lewis absorbed music and words in any language almost on the spot, a gift to which she attributed most of her early success. In ...