Dr. Marilyn J. Coles retired as a Professor of Voice on the music Faculty here at Eastern Illinois, where she taught voice and voice related subjects to undergraduate and graduate students. Marilyn was not only a voice coach but also a performing artist!
Marilyn received her Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from St. Olaf College in Minnesota and her Master of Music degree from the University of Illinois, where she later earned her Doctor of Musical Arts degree. Ms. Coles was awarded a research grant to perform works by 20th century American women composers in which she toured through the Midwest and California.
Marilyn’s performances have taken her from the West Coast to the Midwest, and even to several cities in Europe. While living in Germany for ten years, Dr. Coles sang in many opera houses and had guest appearances in France and Italy. She even performed and toured as a soloist with the Rochester Oratorio Society in Rome and Florence, made recordings for Radio Bremen, appeared in a film on the life of Handel for German television, and taught a music course in Maastricht, The Netherland. It is safe to say that Ms. Coles voice has taken her all over the world.
When Marilyn returned from living and performing in Germany, she decided to attend the University of Illinois again to work on a D.M.A. (Doctor of Musical Arts). While finishing her course work, Ms. Coles began looking for University positions and a tenure- track opening for a voice professor jumped out at her. Marilyn feels that she didn’t choose EIU, it chose her instead.
While at Eastern, Marilyn loved spending time in her brightly decorated teaching studio in the Doudna Fine Arts Center. She refers to it as her “haven” since some days she spent 10-12 hours there. When Ms. Coles wasn’t busy with classes, she also enjoyed the time she spent meeting with friends and students at the coffee shop in the Union.
Marilyn still feels a strong connection to EIU and continues to give back to the community.
“After spending 27 years here, EIU has really become my home. I care about it deeply and enjoy doing what I can to serve. I really miss my students (not so much the meetings) and would have loved to continue teaching them for many more years.”
Although Marilyn no longer teaches at Eastern she has two pieces of advice for current students:
“Take advantage of every single opportunity EIU and your major department have to offer; and ENJOY every minute possible of your time in college because it is such a short four years and the real world responsibilities will probably not allow this much time to learn ever again!”