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Voice faculty member Joan Krueger has passed away

We mourn the loss of our dear friend and most generous colleague Joan Krueger.

Joan came to Purchase 17 years ago at the high recommendation of her best friend Sherry Overholt. This is a recommendation for which everyone whose lives she touched will be eternally grateful. In a most unique manner, Joan affected the lives of each of us in a very special way. 

Joan, who was a well-known and much sought after vocal coach, coached our students privately, taught graduate classes in Opera Styles and yearly prepared the freshman class for Italian scenes. However, it wasn’t so much that she did all this expertly, but more about how she did it. For instance, when I asked Joan if she would teach IPA as well as Italian and French diction, she responded, that although she hadn’t taught those languages in a formal setting she would love the challenge of doing so. She not only met that challenge, but went on to become a superb instructor of all three. 

Joan, always the purveyor of truth, challenged each student to do their very best, whether in the intricacies of IPA or the smallest details of diction. Because of her unwavering honesty and her “always available” attitude, she managed to do this in ways that endeared her to most every student.

Joan rode with me to work twice a week for the entire time she was at Purchase. When she was diagnosed with cancer 14 years ago she shared it with no one except those closest to her and those with the need to know. When radiation and chemo invariably came and she lost her hair, she wore a beautiful wig and never once complained of the fatigue or any other of the numerous side effects she must have suffered. Joan was in fact the most cheerful person I have ever known. She loved going to concerts and would often bring the reviews of many of those she attended, reading them excitedly as we traveled. She was intensely curious, often reaching for her phone to Google anything she didn’t understand. She would say, “I just can’t stand not knowing”.

Once, on the day of the freshman opera scenes concert, which Joan always prepared and played, she was scheduled to under go surgery to remove lymph nodes in her armpits. This is a very painful procedure, but it was necessary to slow the progression of her cancer. I had pleaded with her to allow me to find someone else to play the concert, but she wouldn’t hear of it. That evening she played a beautiful program with no one but those close to her knowing of the operation, and most certainly of the pain she must have experienced while playing.

During these last several weeks as Joan was reviewing her life, she spoke of being overwhelmed at the many extraordinary blessings in her life. She recounted having grown up on a farm in Michigan, where she had asked her parents if they would pay for her piano lessons. She was so grateful that they agreed to this, because it allowed her to “live a magnificent life filled with music and musicians”. She talked about how early in her life she wanted so badly to travel and that it was her music that allowed her to work on cruise ships and see the world. She said, “in short, I wouldn’t change a thing”.

Her positive outlook, her love of music and of life, her funny often scattered way of looking at all things, her curious and caring demeanor, her wide eyed open mouthed challenge to your inability to see what she saw, made her easy to love, while at the same time allowing those around her to bask in the reflection of that love.

Jacque Trussel, Head of Opera Performance/Vocal Studies