Rider loses prominent Westminster voice, professor

By Shanna O’Mara and Lauren Lavelle

Lindsey Christiansen, a member of the Westminster Choir College faculty since 1977, passed away on March 1.

Lindsey Christiansen, chair of the voice department at Westminster Choir College for 18 years, passed away on March 1.

Christiansen joined the Westminster faculty in 1977 and co-founded Westminster’s Art Song Festival, an annual two-day celebration of creativity through appreciation of music and poetry. She was a professor of voice and song literature.

“Her energy and complete dedication to teaching, where she not only uplifted her students but her colleagues, will be terribly missed,” said voice faculty member Laura Rice. “As a young teacher when she and her colleagues hired me, Lindsey was a constant source of encouragement and I credit her for any success I have had in this profession. There is a profound sense of loss and sadness at Westminster, and we will mourn her loss for a long time.”

She also taught at the University of Illinois and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

She earned her Bachelor of Arts in music history from the University of Richmond, before earning her Master of Management in voice and organ from the University of Illinois.

Christiansen also studied in the Opera School of the Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg, Germany.

In 1992, she was named a Distinguished Alumna of the University of Richmond and honored for distinction in the arts in 1996.

She has made solo orchestral appearances with the Richmond Symphony, Greensboro Symphony, Roanoke Symphony, Colonial Orchestra, Philadelphia Concerto Soloists, Princeton Pro Musica and Pro Arte Choral.

“Lindsey was a soloist for Princeton Pro Musica on numerous occasions,” said Frances Fowler Slade, former artistic director. “Her intelligence and musicianship made working with her an absolute joy.”

As a member of the American Academy of Teachers of Singing, Christiansen taught two master classes for the internship program benefitting young teachers. She also participated in the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

A student of Franz Schubert’s music, she coordinated a festival at Westminster centered on his work and has twice been the artist-in-residence for voice study for the Franz-Schubert-Institut in Baden bei Wien, Austria.

She was dedicated to her students, some of whom performed at The Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden, Paris Opera, Glyndebourne Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera and Seattle Opera.

Justin Su’esu’e, Westminster Choir College alum and former student of Christiansen, will miss her constant words of encouragement.

“I can’t help but smile and laugh at a memory we shared together,” said Su’esu’e. “It was my last semester and we were doing The Art Song Festival and I sang some of the most challenging English art songs I have ever seen. After I finished, she hugged me and said, ‘If you can sing that and convey the message… you are most definitely an artist.’”

She is survived by her husband, Knud, her children and grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Lindsey Christiansen Art Song Festival Endowed Fund, established in her honor to sustain the study and performance of art song at Westminster Choir College. Contributions may be made online at alumni.rider.edu/artsongfestival or sent to Westminster Choir College of Rider University, Attn: Art Song Festival, 101 Walnut Lane, Princeton NJ 08540. For assistance in making a contribution, please contact Kate Wadley at 609-921-7100 extension 8213 or kwadley@rider.edu.


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