Concert honours UWindsor singer

The life and music of Catherine McKeever, one of Windsor’s most celebrated mezzo-sopranos, was celebrated last Saturday at Glenwood United Church, just over a year after she lost her battle with cancer.

Catherine McKeever, world-class mezzo-soprano and instructor at the University of Windsor, passed away October 3, 2012 after four years of battling cancer. Photo Courtesy of School for Arts & Creative Innovation.
Catherine McKeever, world-class mezzo-soprano and instructor at the University of Windsor, passed away October 3, 2012 after four years of battling cancer. Photo Courtesy of School for Arts & Creative Innovation.

Catherine McKeever, world-class mezzo-soprano and instructor at the University of Windsor, passed away October 3, 2012 after four years of battling cancer. Photo Courtesy of School for Arts & Creative Innovation.

Travis Fauteux

News Editor

The life and music of Catherine McKeever, one of Windsor’s most celebrated mezzo-sopranos, was celebrated last Saturday at Glenwood United Church, just over a year after she lost her battle with cancer.

Over 160 people attended the event from Windsor-Essex and the metropolitan Detroit area.

The concert included inspiring performances by McKeever’s colleague Peggy Dwyer, who sung “Io son l’umile ancella” from the Italian opera Adriana Lecouvreur, and many of her former students and UWindsor Music Alumni.

McKeever earned an Honours Bachelor of Music degree in 1994 from the University of Windsor, pursued her masters across the water at the University of Michigan, and soon returned to her home town to teach at the University of Windsor.

The Catherine McKeever Memorial Concert raised funds for the McKeever Voice Scholarship, a scholarship at the university where she studied, taught, and touched many hearts.

A total of $2,579.00 was raised for the McKeever Voice Scholarship fund.

Elsie Inselman, an Adjunct Associate Professor of Voice at the University of Windsor who was one of McKeever’s voice teachers and her great friend, said that McKeever’s talent was undeniable even in the earliest stages of her career.

“I think it was the summer of 1990 that Catherine called me and wanted to have lessons.  She came and she sang for me and it was a very beautiful instrument, but it was raw in technique,” said Inselman.  “And so, we began lessons—very wonderful lessons—and she was such a fantastic voice that I decided I wanted to stay with her.”

Inselman said she then began teaching at the University of Windsor, where McKeever had decided to pursue studies, and she was given the chance to watch McKeever’s talents develop further.

“I knew I had something really special in her and her repertoire was very mature.  It was so pleasing to work with someone who was dedicated and not so young they were still searching for who they were, so to speak,” she said.

David Palmer, professor emeritus at the University of Windsor and colleague of McKeever said that the event Saturday  was heartwarming for all those who were touched by McKeever’s presence.

“It was a very emotional experience.  We’re just deeply saddened  that she’s not here and didn’t live a long life, but one thing that stuck out in my mind was how so much that she gave to everybody, especially to students, was all coming back to everybody,” said Palmer.

“She left a wonderful legacy.  One [student]who was initially going into another discipline just found that she couldn’t do anything else but sing,” he said.  “When she was in this other discipline she kept thinking about how she wanted to sing and I put so much of that down to Cathy and how she inspired her students.”

Now, a year after the death of her student, colleague and close friend, Inselman says it is time for Windsor to look back at the legacy left behind by McKeever.

“It’s time to gather together to commemorate and to raise funds for this totally worthy scholarship,” said Inselman.

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