Lillian Altschuler Loran Bay area soprano, vocal coach, voice teacher Lillian Altschuler Loran died Sunday 12/23/2012 in her Berkeley home surrounded by family and several students who were also devoted friends.|
She was born April 11, 1923 at UCSF hospital, to struggling immigrants from what are now Ukraine and Belarus. Her parents pushed her and her older sister Dorothy, (d. 2004) to read widely and to be critical thinkers. Her parents were proud but struggled to make a way in the new world. Lillian inherited their pride but harbored a life long aversion to cabbage and potatoes the staples of her youth. She attended San Francisco public schools, Lowell HS, and UC Berkeley.
Lilian showed musical aptitude early in life. At 3 years old, she would watch Dorothy practice the piano, and even though she was barely able to reach the keyboard, she would play the same pieces by ear. There was a lot of local talent in those days: Isaac Stern, Carol Channing, Eve Arden and more. Yehudi Menuhin performed with the SF symphony at age 7. Lillian's parents were very hopeful for their talented child, and soon, she was taking free piano lessons for gifted Jewish youth sponsored by the Haas family.
The San Francisco she was immersed in during her formative years was bohemian and left wing. She participated in idealistic youth organizations, was suspicious of authority, always advocating freedom for the individual. She supported the arts and the positive notions of diversity and tolerance that are still associated with San Francisco today. (Bowing to convention, she did perform several weddings as a minister of the Universal Life Church.)
In 1941, she met and married William (Bill) Faverman (d.1999), a dental student who was a cousin of her friend Freda Koblick. Bill said that he fell in love with her voice even before laying eyes on her. During his time in dental school, Lillian worked as a machinist at Bay Area shipyards and later traveled to Army bases throughout the US where Bill was working as a dentist. Preparing for a performance career, they replaced the family name with a more theatrical one: Loran. Her first son Marc was born in 1946, and soon afterward, the family settled in Mill Valley.
In 1950, Lillian took Marc to Milan, where she studied with Pasquale Franceschi and gave vocal recitals and performrd in operettas and operas. Returning to the Bay Area in the early 50s she sang regularly at the Playhouse, the Hungry I, KPFA radio, Actor's Workshop, Marine's Memorial Theater, the Old Spaghetti Factory, and the Mill Valley Outdoor Art Club; performing opera and other works by Mozart, Rossini, Verdi, Purcell, Saint-Saens, Debussy and others, often with her friend, contralto Henrietta Harris.
In 1956 her second son Jonathan was born. By the early 60s she was performing less and began teaching privately and at various institutions, such as the Kathryn Branson High School in Ross, Dominican Convent Upper School in San Rafael and Marin county public schools. She gave workshops at San Francisco State College, UC Berkeley, and ACT. In 1969, she and Bill divorced and she moved back to San Francisco where she developed her private teaching practice, before settling in Berkeley.
In teaching she found her true vocation. She had a unique ability to help each student find their own natural voice without insisting on conventional technique. Her students' interests and talents ranged across the vocal spectrum from pop to medieval and many went on to become or were already professionals. Some moved to careers in Europe and Israel and Lillian traveled there frequently to coach for performances and recording sessions. Her reputation also brought performers from around the world to her studio in Berkeley. She kept up a full schedule into her 80s.
In spite of suffering dementia in her last years, she was able to offer useful musical guidance to students. In turn, they enriched her life immeasurably with love and support until the end. Essential through all thiss the practical, tireless and loving help of her care givers Ruby Juarez, Norma Ramos, Rowena Mesalucha, Regine Power, and Mary Beth Peterson. Lillian's family feels the deepest gratitude to you all!
Lillian is survived by her sons Marc, Jonathan, daughters in law Abby Miller and Jena Resner, grand children Max and Matthew, Zachary and Eliza, and grand nephew Robeson Williams and his wife Jessica.
"As a student of nearly 40 years, and her friend, describing her impact on her students is like trying to empty the ocean through a straw; there is so much to say. Her students were devoted, passionate, about her, just as she was about each of them. She liked to tell us, that in the course of our lessons, she would teach us how to live, really live, and indeed, she helped each of us get to the essence of our unique individuality, as singers, as people. She pared away the artifice, the fear our inner judges trapped us in, and got us to the freedom, the simplicity, the honesty, of conveying a song, without ego, to be the vehicle through which the composer and poet would emerge, where the words were clear and meaningful, and the sound glorious and resonant. Her approach was joyful, and fun and positive, always helping us to let go, to just be what we are. She changed our lives." -Susan Rode Morris
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Mar. 3, 2013