Remembering U of M School of Music Professor Barbara Kierig - Memorial on June 22
A celebration of Barbara Kierig's life will be held on Saturday, June 22 at 10 a.m. at Unity Church - Unitarian (733 Portland Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104).
University of Minnesota School of Music professor Barbara Kierig passed away on Tuesday, May 21, 2013. Originally from St. Louis, MO, Kierig earned Bachelor's and Master's degrees in vocal music from the University of Illinois Urbana. She studied on a Fulbright scholarship at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. As an opera singer, Kierig played opposite Samuel Ramey and other notable artists in productions across the U.S. In the 60s and 70s, she performed at the Vienna Volksoper and elsewhere throughout Austria, Germany and Italy, appearing with Reri Grist, Erich Kunz, Ileana Cortubas, and other artists. She met her husband, Russel at the American National Opera. He was also a singer, and together they toured Europe.
In the mid-70s she began teaching, first at Pretoria College in South Africa, then at Eastern Kentucky and Washington State University. In 1983 Kierig became a vocal music instructor at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Fluent in German and the Viennese dialect, she was the Minnesota Opera's German language coach. She was a sought-after judge of District and Regional Metropolitan Opera Auditions.
Teaching was Kierig's passion. She maintained a private studio until a few months before her death. Her students vividly remember her emphasis on solid vocal technique, her practical methods, endless energy and patience, and lively personality. Her colorful, zany expressions--part of every lesson--will not be forgotten.
Her dedication to her students was evident, she once shared with a student, "I wake up thinking of all of your lovely voices. I have them all right here in my head and I'm thinking about them all the time."
U of M School of Music voice professor Jean del Santo remembers her longtime colleague fondly, "What was so impressive about Barbara was her generous spirit. One of her great loves in life was German and she was known for her German dialect work with the Minnesota Opera. So naturally when the University Opera Theatre presented The Magic Flute in 2010, she taught German dialect in addition to her studio classes. She gave her time to individually coach students from both casts to ensure that their German was perfect. This shows what a dedicated teacher and lover of the art form she was."
For several weeks each summer, Kierig lived in her beloved Vienna, visiting historical musical sites and attending concerts. She will be deeply missed by many past and current students, colleagues and friends. She is survived by her husband, Russel, of St. Paul and son Steve, of Los Angeles.
Donations can be made in Kierig's name to The Minnesota Opera and the University of Minnesota School of Music - Twin Cities. A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, June 22 at 10 a.m. at Unity Church - Unitarian (733 Portland Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104).