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Marilyn Coles


Marilyn Joy Coles has combined careers as a performing artist and voice teacher. Currently, Dr. Coles is Professor of Voice on the music faculty at Eastern Illinois University where she has taught since 1988. She teaches voice and voice related subjects to undergraduate and graduate students. These subjects include vocal diction in English, Italian, French, and German as well as song and opera literature. She has been teaching voice and giving masterclasses for over thirty years.

A native of Denver, Colorado, she received a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from St. Olaf College in Minnesota, and M.M. and D.M.A. degrees from the University of Illinois in vocal performance and literature. The title of her dissertation is: Text Settings of Rainer Maria Rilke: A Comparison of Settings by Ernst Krenek, Kurt Weill, Henk Badings, Donald Martino, and Mary Howe. She was awarded a research grant to perform works by 20th century American women composers in which she toured through the Midwest and California.

Ms. Coles continues to concertize and perform actively specializing in 20th century music, the art song, and opera. She has performed over 60 opera and oratorio roles. Her performances have taken her from the San Francisco Opera on the West Coast to the Midwest as well as to several cities in Europe where she sang for many years. She lived in Germany for 10 years where she sang in many opera houses and had guest appearances in France and Italy. She made recordings for Radio Bremen and also appeared in a film on the life of Handel for German television. Some of her favorite roles include Carmen, Dorabella, Cherubino, Donna Elvira, Octavian, and Cenerentola. Equally at home with avant garde music as well as the classical repertoire, Ms. Coles has performed and recorded many new works. Recently, there was a release on CD by New World Records of a recording of award-winning, “Portraits of Three Ladies” by American composer, Edwin London. She also performed this piece with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony in Detroit and Cleveland. During the summer of 2000, she toured and performed as soloist with the Rochester Oratorio Society in concerts in Rome and Florence, Italy. In December of 2002, she performed with the Cleveland Chamber Symphony in an opera by Edwin London, Santa Claus (text by e.e. cummings)

In the summer, Dr.Coles teaches a course, “Understanding Music: A Transatlantic View of Western Music in Europe and America” at the Maastricht Center for Transatlantic Studies in Maastricht, The Netherlands.

Areas of Expertise

  • Music
  • Opera

Research Interests


Soloist in Acoustic Research/Deutsche Grammophon recording of Edwin London's, "Portrait of Three Ladies": Released on CD in 2000 by New World Records.
Recordings of English and American Songs for Radio Bremen
Recordings with The Contemporary Chamber Ensemble, University of Illinois

Contact Information

Phone: 217-581-2723

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