Soprano, professor of music Judith Kellock dies

Judith Kellock

Judith Kellock, an internationally known soprano and professor of performance in the Department of Music, died March 27 in Ithaca. She was 64.

Kellock was a beloved and active member of the Cornell music faculty, which she joined in 1991. She taught voice performance to many generations of students and participated in numerous recitals and concerts. She was named a full professor in 2011.

She was a founding member of the new-music group Ensemble X. Her last performance on campus was a midday recital on Dec. 4, “Love, Loss, and Longing: The World of 19th-Century German Song,” with students and pianist Roger Moseley.

Memorial concert
The Department of Music presents “A Concert for Judy,” Monday, April 20, at 8 p.m. in Barnes Hall Auditorium.

The event begins with a reception on the stage, followed by a 70-minute concert program expected to start at 8:45 or 9 p.m. Featured performers include Judith Kellock’s former students Arsenia Soto Brickley, Brian Ming Chu, Terence Goff, Jamie Jordan and Nathaniel McEwen; the Cornell Chamber Orchestra and faculty from the Ithaca College School of Music and the Department of Music. Free admission; all are invited.

“Losing Judy creates a void in our hearts and in our department,” said Roberto Sierra, interim chair of the Department of Music. “She was a beloved teacher and colleague, and her artistry graced our stages for over two decades.”

Kellock was lauded in the press as “a singer of rare intelligence and vocal splendor, with a voice of indescribable beauty.” She sang with the Cayuga Chamber Orchestra and with the St. Louis Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Brooklyn Philharmonic, the New World Symphony, the Limburg Symphony Orchestra, the Honolulu Symphony, the Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra and the Greek Radio Orchestra, among other ensembles in the United States and Europe. She also led master classes around the world and voice lessons at her studio in Jackson Heights, Queens.

“It goes without saying that Judy was an important artist – one of the very few equipped to carry on the legacy of her own teacher, the great American mezzo Jan de Gaetani, in art song, in vocal chamber music and in championing the living American composer,” said Steven Stucky, emeritus professor of composition. “But more importantly, on a personal level with her colleagues and friends, she was warm-hearted, passionate and fiercely loyal. The outpouring now of love and grief from her legions of students reminds us that she was a teacher of rare gifts, utterly dedicated to passing on the secrets of her craft and to bolstering her students’ integrity and confidence. As a mentor and friend, she set a standard we can all aspire to but few can match. Her passing leaves a hole in the lives of so very many – scores of lives she changed decisively for the better.”

Kellock held a master of music degree from Boston University. Her honors include a National Endowment for the Arts recitalist fellowship. She appeared on more than a dozen recordings, sang major operatic roles in Italy and Greece, toured with the Opera Company of Boston and performed with the Mark Morris Dance Company in Brussels, Belgium.

“Judy was one of the most positive and generous people I know, always looking for new approaches and creative projects that included friends and colleagues,” said pianist Xak Bjerken, professor of performance. “Her singing was emotionally committed and expressive, and she was beloved by her students and by her many friends here in Ithaca and afar. Those who knew her and worked with her are left heartbroken.”

Survivors include her brother, James, and nephew, James Albert.

No funeral service is planned. A celebration at Cornell will be announced. 

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