The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra has created the Florence Kopleff Choral Administrator Chair to honor the American contralto who died July 24.

Time magazine once called Kopleff the “greatest living alto.” She always acknowledged the deep influence of former ASO Music Director Robert Shaw, whom she met in 1941. Kopleff sang with the Robert Shaw Chorale on all of its recordings, and it was Shaw who encouraged her to take private voice lessons.

“He made me the human being that I am,” she said. At his urging, she moved to Atlanta in 1968 to become a voice professor at Georgia State University and the school’s first artist-in-residence, a position she held for 30 years. She also had a solo career, performing and recording with such conductors as George Szell, Charles Munch, Fritz Reinger and Eugene Ormandy.

“Music is my religion,” she was quoted as saying. “I don’t have a family or a business to leave to the world, so my music, which is my life’s work, will be my testament.”

ASO choral administrator Jeffrey Baxter, a friend of Kopleff and longtime ASO Chorus member, is first holder of the chair.

About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich is a longtime arts journalist who has been seeing, working in or writing about the performing arts for most of her life. She's a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, Americans for the Arts and the National Arts Marketing Project. Full disclosure: She’s also an artistic associate at Synchronicity Theatre.

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