Opera Studies Music Director Miah Im Remembers

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Photo courtesy of Rice News

By Nishanka Kuthuru 10/13/21 01:32

Miah Im, Music Director of Opera Studies at Rice University, died on September 30 at the age of 47 from pancreatic cancer.

Ana María Martínez, Grammy Award-winning soprano and Shepherd School of Music Artist in Residence, had been Im’s good friend and colleague for 20 years. She said that I always cared about her job and responsibilities and took them very seriously.

“She loved music, she loved to guide and teach and thought meticulously about how best to serve students by helping them grow and develop,” said Martinez. “Her humanity and excellence had a tremendous impact on her students and on all of us who were fortunate enough to know and love her. ”



Originally from Toronto, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in piano performance, a minor in Italian and a master’s degree in music in collaboration with piano and chamber music.

Im, widely recognized as a “magical talent,” was the first recipient of the Marilyn Horne Foundation’s Excellence in Vocal Accompaniment Award and appeared as a featured artist at the foundation’s annual gala concert. She has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Saint Louis Symphony, and New World Symphony, among others. His performances have also been featured on WQXR in New York, NPR and CBC radio.

Jennie Bacante, Im’s friend for 22 years, said that she sees Im as a sister as well as her “all friend.” “

“Miah is also the kind of person you will probably only meet once in your life,” Bacante wrote in an email to Thresher. “Every meeting with Miah has been a favorite and I can’t rank just one.”

After moving to Houston in 2020 to join Rice Faculty and conduct the Houston Grand Opera, Im made the most of his career amid the pandemic, Bacante said.

“Miah moved to Houston to pursue her dream job at Rice to inspire and uplift the next generation of singers – unfortunately it was during a pandemic, but I think her ability to think outside the box and put on an opera in keeping everyone safe and valuing everyone’s time last year was one of his greatest feats, ”Bacante wrote.

I have produced several operas over the past year and a half. Under normal pre-COVID circumstances, its inaugural rice production of The Kaiser of Atlantis would have been one of the first performances to an audience in the newly constructed Brockman Hall for Opera. Not letting pandemic social distancing and large band restrictions ruin the performance, Im led a virtual production of the show, a first for The Shepherd School.

Im and his production team have innovated to improve the online audience experience, according to the Rice news article. She used a massive green screen on stage in the Lucian and Nancy Morrison Theater at Brockman Hall and new technology to produce 3D-like effects for the performance backdrops.

Robert Yekovich, former dean of Shepherd School, said Im’s driven nature allowed her to move her plan forward for what she wanted the program to be.

“The opera studies program continued on an upward trajectory, despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, and it was remarkable in many ways and in large part thanks to Miah’s direction,” said Yekovich, professor. music to Elma Schneider.

Robin Rice, chair of the voice section, said Im was completely selfless and used her incredible amount of energy to help those around her.

“She has spent countless hours helping us recruit the best singers across the country.” Rice said. “She was totally invested in all of our students and went out of her way to help them find their way.”

Not only was Im a musical director and a proactive director, but she was also known for her singing, according to Martínez.

“To be clear, from a pianist, a coach, a conductor, a musical team leader, you don’t expect to hear such a beautiful and crystal-clear voice … Miah had it and she offered it as she offered everything she gave – from the heart and freely, “Martínez said.” She always took our breath away when she did that, and she always had a sparkle in her eyes as she impressed us with her beautiful singing.

Bacantes described Im as being able to make a positive and appreciative impression on everyone she met.

“[Im was] beautiful inside and out, overly generous, caring, dedicated, fiercely loyal, loving, kind, intelligent, quick-witted, extremely talented and an accomplished artist and musician, ”said Bacante.

Martinez characterized Im by his warmth, his humor and his optimistic character.

“She has always been wise and empathetic, genuine to the core,” Martinez said. “I often think that to assess the impact someone has on you, on others, always ask: How do I feel after leaving this person’s presence? When I ask myself this when it comes to Miah, the answer will always have been: I feel uplifted, better, more joyful, and grateful.

Yekovich said Im exudes confidence while maintaining humility, and her sociability makes her absolutely pleasant to be around.

“The Shepherd School’s opera program and the opera world at large have lost a bright young star with the passing of Miah Im,” Yekovich said.

Im survived by his mother Soo Hi, his partner Christopher Scott and Scott’s son Ethan.


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