Marjorie L. Dallam, 79, concert singer, voice teacher, member of many boards

August 01, 1999|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Marjorie Lehmann Dallam, a noted concert singer and teacher who taught voice in Baltimore for more than 40 years, died Thursday from complications of a stroke at her Mount Vernon home in the Washington Apartments. She was 79.

Mrs. Dallam, whose voice was described by a friend as a "full-bodied soprano," had appeared as a soloist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Reginald Stewart, and the summer pops series of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra conducted by Robert P. Iula.

Throughout the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, she toured New England, the South and Midwest, where she appeared in numerous recitals and with symphony orchestras. During World War II, she entertained an estimated 500,000 Army and Navy servicemen while singing at military installations throughout the eastern United States.

"She loved singing before audiences, and the larger the better. She really enjoyed that," said her husband of 49 years, John E. Dallam, a retired USF&G Corp. executive. "She'd pick out a face in the audience and sing to them."

Throughout the 1960s, Mrs. Dallam was a soloist with the First English Lutheran Church and also volunteered many hours entertaining patients in area hospitals and nursing homes. For years, she taught voice from a studio in the Latrobe Building and, in recent years, from a basement studio in the 900 block of N. Charles St.

"She taught in the bel canto style," said Conni Highfield of Westminster, a student for 22 years who sings in local church choirs and community theater productions. "She was a very gentle and gracious lady who had a wonderful ear. She could hear all the subtle nuances of a voice and was not satisfied with anything less than the best, [which] she got in a very gentle way."

Mrs. Dallam's modest studio was distinguished by a grand piano, a full-length mirror and a hand mirror that her students used to watch themselves sing.

"The mirrors were an integral part of every lesson. She used them to show you how to interpret the music. She wanted you to be beautiful when you sang. She really was a grande dame," said Ms. Highfield.

"After her family and church, her life centered around music, and now she lives on in the voices of her students who were devoted to her," said the Rev. R. Douglas Pitt, senior minister at Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Baltimore.

A well-known figure in Baltimore, Mrs. Dallam was described by Parker Rouse Freeland, a goddaughter, as being a "stunningly good-looking woman with wavy hair and a youthful face. She was always smartly dressed."

Mrs. Dallam was a former member of the boards of the Baltimore Opera Guild, the Baltimore Music Club and the Woman's Industrial Exchange. She was also a former member of the board of Christ Church Foundation Inc.

She had been a communicant and former vestry member of the now-closed Christ Episcopal Church, and at her death was a member of St. John's Episcopal Church Huntingdon, where she had also been a member of the vestry.

She was a member of the Mount Vernon Club and the Johns Hopkins Club.

The former Marjorie Lehmann was born in Hampton, Va., the daughter of tenor and teacher Oscar H. Lehmann. She was raised in Baltimore, where she graduated from Western High School. During the 1930s, she attended the Peabody Conservatory, where she studied voice and was also coached privately by her father.

Services for Mrs. Dallam will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. John's Episcopal Church Huntingdon, 3009 Greenmount Ave., Waverly.

She is survived by her husband.

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