Dr. Carolann Martin, 83, of Pittsburg, KS, passed away on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, at Via Christi Village, following a long illness. Dr. Martin was born on Nov. 20, 1935, in Woodward, OK, to John C. Martin and Leah Mae (Heaston) Shilling.
From her very earliest years, she was drawn to music, learning to play the piano, accordion, and cello. Her extraordinary talent was recognized by the music faculty of Oklahoma City University, where as a scholarship recipient she completed a Bachelor of Music in Education degree in 1957. Her graduate degrees included a Master of Arts from Ohio State University (1964) and a Doctor of Musical Arts in cello performance and conducting from the University of Arizona (1979). Among the many distinguished mentors with whom she worked over the years were cellists Gorden Epperson, Janos Starker, Bernard Greenhouse, and Frank Miller, and conductors Max Rudolph, Otto Werner-Mueller, Harold Farberman, and Elizabeth Green.
Her extensive experience as a professional cellist included engagements with the Chicago Chamber Orchestra, the Chicago Civic Orchestra and the Sioux City Symphony in Iowa. She also performed with symphony orchestras in Oklahoma City (OK), Columbus (OH), Norfolk (VA), and Tucson (AZ). Her long career as a music educator began in the Oklahoma City public schools. She later held academic positions at Chicago City College and Morningside College. She joined the music faculty of Pittsburg State University in 1977, where for the next 23 years she taught cello, bass, and conducting, and served as Musical Director and Conductor of the Southeast Kansas Symphony Orchestra. She retired in 2001 as Professor Emeritus.
Dr. Martin's fame as a conductor extended well beyond the region. Among her many honors, she was winner of the 1980 National Adult Conducting Competition, held in LaCrosse, WI. She was the first woman ever to win or reach the finals in that contest. She conducted orchestras in many locations throughout the United States, as well as in England and South America. In 1986, she led the Bournemouth Sinfonietta in the creation of a CD of orchestral works by American women composers. The album also included one work recorded with the Arioso Chamber Orchestra in Hartford, CT. This CD, titled "Journeys", was widely acclaimed and reviewed in the press. This CD was played on National Public Radio in the U.S. as well as on many radio stations throughout the nation. She was featured twice in Audio Magazine and was the subject of an hour-long interview with Studs Terkel on Chicago's prominent fine arts station, WFMT.
Dr. Martin was the first woman ever to conduct the national orchestra in Paraguay, the Orquesta Sinfonica de la Ciudad de Asuncion. She appeared on four concerts with that orchestra and also conducted a performance with the National Youth Orchestra of Paraguay.
She served her country as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps from 1958-61, attaining the rank of 1st Lieutenant. She continued her service as a long-time member of the American Legion, serving the Betty Lou Vilmer Post 394 as a past Commander and Adjutant.
Dr. Martin is listed in the "International Who's Who of Music," the "World's Who's Who of Women," the "Who's Who of American Women" and others. She is remembered by her colleagues and her many students as a consummate professional and devoted teacher who gave tirelessly of her time, talent, and resources to benefit the pursuit of musical excellence. Among the organizations and initiatives that were particularly important to her in recent years were Opera in the Ozarks at Inspiration Point, the Steinway Society at Pittsburg State University, and support for the study of low strings at PSU.
She is survived by her brother, Donald Allen Martin, of Glenpool, OK. She was preceded in death by her parents and her brother, Paul Leon Martin.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28, in the Sharon Kay Dean Recital Hall in McCray Hall on the Pittsburg State University campus.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be directed to the PSU Foundation for the Carolann Martin Endowment for Low Strings.
Published on September 12, 2019