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LIFE AND TIMES: Alexandra Munn an infinite persona and musical expertise

The Juilliard graduate was a devoted educator who taught generations of musicians, was deeply concerned with the Richard Eaton Singers and beloved an excellent home celebration

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Arnold Voth nonetheless chuckles when recalling his first audition for Dr. Alexandra “Sandra” Munn in 1969.

“I used to be doing the same old scales, singing an excerpt of one thing for her,” says the retired doctor and longtime member of the Richard Eaton Singers. “I might see from the look on her face that she was not wildly enthused, and at last she mentioned, ‘Effectively, you’ve got a really extraordinary voice, however you learn music and I want somebody like that in my choir.’”

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The anecdote could seem off-putting on paper, however it’s really fairly instructive in describing Munn, a revered educator, conductor and pianist who died Sept. 30 on the age of 89. Not solely was she very blunt in her appraisal, Munn had additionally figured one thing out about Voth that he himself hadn’t. Skilled as a tenor by a vocal coach who Voth is for certain had desires of uncovering a brand new Enrico Caruso, Munn detected that he was really a baritone, a task he served for many years with the Singers earlier than transitioning to bass in later years.

A startlingly gifted pianist with excellent pitch, Munn discovered herself conducting the Eaton Singers for six years after the corporate’s founder handed abruptly in 1967. Munn was additionally not afraid to voice her opinions. In Dr. Voth’s case, this meant artistically, however for others which may imply just a few caustic feedback on deportment.

Alexandra Munn
Alexandra Munn with pianist Ronald Turnin, left, and her mother and father. Picture by Equipped

“She had a persona that might simply put individuals into line,” notes colleague and present Richard Eaton Singers inventive director Leonard Ratzlaff. “Her college students had been each admiring of her but additionally considerably afraid of her generally. She didn’t maintain again if she felt that she needed to say one thing about their conduct, or how they confirmed themselves on stage.”

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Born in Calgary in 1934, Munn moved to Edmonton to check on the College of Alberta with Gladys Egbert and Phyllis Ford from 1946 to 1953. Her expertise was instantly obvious, and scholarships got in order that she might research with Irwin Freundlich from 1953 to 1956 on the Juilliard College in New York. Finally, she ended up again in Edmonton on the behest of Richard Eaton, the place she taught piano on the college.

Alexandra Munn at Juilliard
Alexandra Munn at age 21, graduating from Juilliard. Picture by Equipped

That doesn’t imply Munn was a cliché of the stodgy, ill-tempered tutorial, nonetheless. She was fairly social, gathering buddies and college students round for an excellent time when the work was completed.

“She was fairly well-known in a approach for little drop-in events at her home,” says Ratzlaff. “‘Come over for some scorching chocolate,’ she would say, however it was actually not simply scorching chocolate. I used to be concerned with just a few of these once I first got here right here, and people reminiscences nonetheless stick with me.”

“There’s no query that she was a really extroverted particular person,” says Voth, recalling the Eaton Singers’ tour that took them to the U.Ok. in 1970. “She was at all times with the choir at any time when we unfold ourselves out on the pub in England. Actually once we had been up half the evening, or what was left of the evening after our spectacular win, she was there celebrating with us.”

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Alexandra Munn as Marguerita Peeverovich
To rejoice her fortieth 12 months in Edmonton, Munn held a profit live performance, the place she channelled her personal inside diva, the made up character, “Marquerita Peeverovich.” Picture by Equipped

Munn’s a number of abilities had been in excessive demand round city. She accepted a place as choral conductor at Da Digicam Singers from 1968 to 1973, and labored with the Edmonton Opera Refrain for a time period. She usually carried out on CBC and CTV, labored as a competition adjudicator, and collaborated with vocalists like Bernard Diamant, Huguette Tourangeau, and Donald Bell. She was acknowledged as a Builder on the Edmonton Cultural Corridor of Fame in 2001, and acquired the Alberta Music Training Basis Recognition Award in 2012, in addition to the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. Munn taught generations of musicians, a lot of whom went on to distinction within the area. Her inventive progeny consists of Michael Massey, conductor of the Edmonton Youth Orchestra and jazz musician/composer Jan Randall.

Alexandra Munn teaching
Alexandra Munn surrounded by her former college students, now all grown up. Picture by Equipped

Munn retired from the college in 1992, however then went on to affix the employees at Alberta School Conservatory of Music the place she labored with one more technology of younger musicians. She lastly retired from educating at establishments in 2018, however not earlier than pulling collectively one ultimate live performance, a collaborative Bach Challenge at All Saints’ Cathedral. It was the proper capstone to a exceptional profession, however it wasn’t like she light away after; Munn was nonetheless in touch with buddies, and nonetheless

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“Sandra typically referred to as me through the years, and never at all times to do with a selected live performance or something,” Ratzlaff says. “She simply needed to talk. The final I’d heard from her was a couple of 12 months in the past when she came upon that I’d had some well being points. I’ll miss that. She was fiery and she or he had amusing that I’ll always remember. That chortle was loud and raucous. Her ability as a pianist was great, and to have the ability to go to Juilliard from the province of Alberta within the Fifties says lots about her expertise. There was additionally an apparent deep caring for her college students, and that actually got here throughout along with her. She’ll be missed.”

A service for Alexandra Munn will happen on Saturday, Oct. 21 from 2 to 4 p.m. at All Saints’ Cathedral, 10035 103 St.

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