Frieda O. Vogan
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Norfolk - Frieda O. Vogan passed away shortly before her 103rd birthday, peacefully at rest on September 26, 2013, the birthday of her beloved late husband, Dr. Charles E. Vogan.
Frederika (Frieda) Op't Holt Vogan was a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she was the daughter of Dutch immigrants. Her interest in music developed from her childhood years into a career as teacher, performer and organist-choir director that spanned eight decades.
At age eight, she began piano lessons and added organ studies in her early teens with Henry Overley, Professor of Music at Kalamazoo College. Soon thereafter, she began playing the organ for services at the Second Christian Reformed Church of which she and her family were members.
Mrs. Vogan attended Kalamazoo College, where she received a degree in French. She taught public school for several years, while also continuing with organ studies and concerts, among which was a 1934 performance at the Chicago World's Fair.
In 1937 she enrolled at the University of Michigan School of Music in Ann Arbor where she received her Bachelor's Degree in Music (1938) and Master's Degree in Music (1939) while majoring in organ. Among her teachers were Palmer Christian and Arthur Poister (organ), Healy Willan (theory) and Ernst Krenek (composition).
Shortly after graduating, she presented a recital in Kalamazoo for a Convention for the American Guild of Organists, where she met her future husband, Charles Vogan, who was in attendance.
Mrs. Vogan remained in Ann Arbor, where she taught organ and music theory at the University for seven years. She performed organ in a variety of concert venues at the University, including several (1942-48) at its annual May Festivals, among which were concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra. She also performed recitals for the American Guild of Organists Conventions in Detroit, Cleveland and in Chicago, where she collaborated with Leo Sowerby for a performance of that composer's Organ Symphony at the University of Chicago's Rockefeller Chapel. While in Ann Arbor she also served as Organist-Choir Director at First Presbyterian Church and Zion Lutheran Church.
Upon her husband's appointment to the faculty at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mrs. Vogan taught organ in the music department at Stephens College for two years. There, she also served as Organist with Columbia's Bach Singers and the University of Missouri's Orchestra and Chorus.
Mrs. Vogan and her husband, Charles, moved to Norfolk with their children in 1950 when Dr. Vogan was appointed Chairman of the Music Department at what was to become Old Dominion University.
Over the following four and one-half decades, Mrs. Vogan was actively involved in many areas of Norfolk's musical life.
She taught organ at Old Dominion University and Virginia Wesleyan College, and taught both organ and piano privately. Among her former students are many accomplished pianists and organists within the Norfolk area and beyond.
As a performer, Mrs. Vogan served as Organist for the Norfolk Symphony, later known as the Virginia Symphony, and as organist and pianist for the Vogan Chorale, a choral ensemble directed by her husband. Other venues have included choir festivals, Old Dominion University concerts, church and museum recitals and conventions of the American Guild of Organists.
As Organist-Choir Director she served at several churches and a temple in Norfolk including Burrows Baptist, First Baptist, Church of the Ascension, First Lutheran, Ohef Sholom, St. Andrew's Episcopal, and as Organist at Knox Presbyterian. At Royster Memorial Presbyterian Church, Mrs. Vogan served as Organist for performances of major sacred works by Royster's Chancel Choir, directed for over thirty-four years by her husband, Charles, whom she succeeded as Organist there.
During much of her career Mrs. Vogan helped reshape existing artistic standards by serving in professional roles previously accessible only to men, and was described by a leading critic of her day as being the finest female organist in the country.
By nature, she was always known to be congenial and unassuming. As a centenarian, Mrs. Vogan continued to play piano for fellow residents of her retirement community in Virginia Beach.
She is survived by her son, Charles E. Vogan, Jr. and his wife, Barbara of Norfolk; daughter, Judith Vogan Boone and her husband, Joe of Williamsburg; son, David N. Vogan of Washington, D.C.; and a grandson, William Van Dam Vogan of Norfolk.
A memorial service of thanksgiving for her life will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 3, 2013, at Royster Memorial Presbyterian Church in Norfolk, with a reception following at the church Fellowship Hall. Burial will be private. Memorial contributions may be made to the Vogan Music Fund at Royster Church or the Charles E. and Frieda O. Vogan Music Endowment at Old Dominion University. H.D. Oliver Funeral Apartments, Norfolk Chapel, is in charge of arrangements. Online condolences may be offered to the family through www.hdoliver.com.
Published in The Virginian Pilot on Sept. 29, 2013
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