The life of Maureen Lehane Wishart

First published in Celebrating

Opera singer and passionate educator Maureen Lehane Wishart died in hospital on December 27, following a long illness.

She enjoyed a 20-year career as a leading mezzo soprano, during which, in 1966, she married the composer Peter Wishart, for whose work she had special affinity. Following his death in 1984, she founded the Great Elm Festival at their home near Frome, which she dedicated to the memory of her late husband and his work.

In 1993 she founded the Jackdaws Educational Trust, a natural development of the festival, which remains as her legacy today with music participation courses virtually every weekend, education projects, a concert series and a young artists’ programme.

She was particularly committed to music education and through Jackdaws she developed the means to take her mission “bringing music to life” not just to her local community but also to Jackdaws’ many visitors and, through the young artist programme, the music profession as a whole.

She was famous for fighting passionately for what she believed in and was beloved by her friends, family, colleagues and even those with whom she disagreed, because of it.

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