Kathryn Harvey May 14, 1909 - April 2, 2008 A regaled soprano at European Opera houses and treasured mentor of Bay Area singers, Kathryn Harvey has died, just short of her 99th birthday. Having devoted herself to music since childhood in Oconto, WI, Lyla Kathryn Harvey earned a degree from Northwestern University in composition, conducting, and voice, and conducted the Chicago Symphony in a performance of her composition. Launching her singing career in New York City, she got important exposure at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and sang under such notables as Toscanini and Bruno Walter. With her lyric, coloratura versatility and dramatic flair, Kathryn mastered 100 operatic roles, singing throughout northern Europe for some 30 years. Primary tenures were at Zurich, Frankfort, Nurnberg, and Munich, also Paris and Covent Garden, where she sang under Kleiber, Klemperer and Stravinsky. She also performed regularly in oratorio and lieder, taught at the State Conservatory in Nurnberg, recorded with Zurich Radio, and appeared in two films: a biopic of Franz Liszt and an Abbott and Costello comedy. Returning to the U.S. for an extensive teaching career, Kathryn taught at the University of Iowa, San Francisco State, and Dominican (San Rafael) Universities, and Fairbanks Summer Festivals for the University of Alaska. Always, she imparted her gifts with passion, generosity, and an indomitable spirit. Kathryn is survived by her niece Ann Harvey of Oconto, WI; grand nephew, Jack Harvey of Newark, NJ, and his life partner, Al Burgermeister (both formerly of San Francisco); and other great and grand nieces and nephews. Among many long-standing friendships, Kathryn especially cherished John Frykman and Cheryl Arnold, to whom she entrusted her needs for increasing care in recent years. Others who loved her with great generosity include Bob Hirsch, Jim and Diane Hannum, and Carmen Zeni. Devoted former students Aimee Puentes and Devon Hardwick stayed at her bedside faithfully, for her last 10 days. Thanks also for the good care from Aegis Corte Madera, Arcadia, Kaiser, and Hospice of Marin. A celebration of Kathryn Harvey will be held on Saturday, April 26, 5:00 p.m. For more information, call (415) 387-1305. Memorial gifts maybe sent to San Francisco State University, Dept. of Music, 1600 Holloway Ave., SF, 94132; or SF Bay Area Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, c/o Audrey Howitt, 2840 Adams St., Alameda, CA 94501.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Apr. 13, 2008.