Lawrence Mourns the Passing of Professor Emerita Mari Taniguchi

President Beck shares a message with the Lawrence community.

It is with great sadness that I share with you today the news of the death of Professor Emerita of Music Mari Taniguchi, who passed away Monday, February 13 at her home in Appleton. She was 92 years old. A native of San Diego, Calif., Mari joined the Lawrence Conservatory of Music in 1961 as a voice teacher, mentoring scores of aspiring young singers during a 39-year teaching career, retiring in 2000. She was a graduate of Eastman School of Music, earning a bachelor’s degree in both voice and piano, and a master’s degree in music literature.

Professor Emerita of Music Mari Taniguchi

As a teacher and vocal coach, Mari was both exceptional and exceptionally demanding, establishing a well-earned reputation for excellence of diction and musical phrasing. The high standards she set for her students were rewarded with distinguished careers for many of them, most notably Grammy Award-winning baritone Dale Duesing ’67, American Song Contest winner William Sharp ’73, and Metropolitan Opera Audition winner Mark Uhlemann ’96. Numerous other students under her tutelage won awards and fellowships from the National Federation of Music, the Watson Foundation, and the Fulbright Foundation. For many years, she served as conductor of the Downer Chorus for Women.

Mari enjoyed a distinguished performance career before arriving at Lawrence. She made her operatic debut in the title role in “Madame Butterfly” in Turin, Italy, and later performed in Malta, Milan, Rome and Venice. She also sang as part of Robert Shaw’s Chorale for broadcasts on NBC and CBS and performed on some of Toscanini’s legendary recording-broadcasts of operas and orchestral works.

In addition to her considerable musical talents, Mari was an amateur gourmet who took great pride in her culinary skills. She frequently invited her students to her home for dinner, and always the teacher, was generous in providing pointers on how they should handle themselves in the kitchen.

Mari was a dear friend to many at Lawrence. We sincerely sympathize with the loss felt by them and by her former students and share in it. Both Rob and I were the grateful beneficiaries of Mari’s welcoming and cheerful attitude, and the many delicious gifts that she ambitiously created in her kitchen. We always enjoyed and looked forward to her warm and lively company. Mari will be greatly missed and remembered with deep affection.

She is survived by two nephews and a sister-in-law, all of whom live in California.

A memorial service celebrating Mari’s life is tentatively scheduled this spring in the Warch Campus Center. Details to follow.