MOT Statement on the passing of Karen VanderKloot DiChiera - Michigan Opera Theatre

MOT Statement on the passing of Karen VanderKloot DiChiera

Michigan Opera Theatre mourns the passing of Karen VanderKloot DiChiera.

“Ms. DiChiera’s leadership and commitment to Michigan Opera Theatre has been unwavering from the earliest days of our organization,” says Wayne S. Brown, MOT President and CEO. “She has been instrumental in shaping not only the opera company as an institution, but also the lives of thousands of aspiring young musicians and performers through her work as an arts educator and the founder of MOT’s Department of Community Programs. On behalf of the entire Michigan Opera Family, I extend our heartfelt sympathy to Lisa and Cristina and their families.”

An educator, composer, and community galvanizer, Karen V. DiChiera's impact reached far and wide. In addition to founding and leading the Department of Education and Community Programs at Michigan Opera Theatre, she was also integral to the formation of Education programming at other opera companies, such as Opera Pacific and Dayton Opera. She was on the original Education Task Force for Opera America, the service organization for North American Opera Companies. She was co-author of Working Ideas, a textbook on how to run opera education programs published by Opera America in 1984 and was also a contributor to Opera America’s industry-defining curriculum series Words! Music! Opera! She composed music for several children’s operas with librettist and friend Joan Hill, which are still performed today.

Andrea Scobie, MOT’s Director of Education, had been a longtime admirer of Ms. DiChiera’s impact in the community before joining the MOT staff. "Karen not only pioneered important, deeply impactful education programming, but she also established an ethic of inclusion to guide this work,” she says. “Karen recognized that all learners, both children and adults, should be able to access and explore the arts in a personal, meaningful way. We are honored to continue building on her remarkable achievements in bringing music into the lives of so many, especially children, and are deeply grateful for her unparalleled leadership in the fields of arts education, accessibility, and youth engagement.”

 

Karen received many awards and recognitions, including the Variety Club of Detroit Heart Award, the Humanitarian Award from the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Michigan Governor’s Award for Arts Education, a special recognition from the United Nations, and from the Keewenaw Bay Tribal Council.

 

You can read more in-depth articles about Karen’s illustrious career as a composer, music teacher, and her legacy in our 80th Birthday tributes earlier this year.

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