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Eglinton Montgomery, one of America's
leading authorities on Gilbert & Sullivan, died suddenly at his summer home
on the coast of Maine
on June 21st, 2008. The Chestnut Hill resident had celebrated his 81st
birthday the previous day.
Mr. Montgomery, or
"Monty" as he was known to many, hailed from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
where he directed musical organizations, many of which were dedicated to
Gilbert & Sullivan. He was a long-time member of the Orpheus Club,
where he was also named an honorary member for his appearances as guest
conductor. He was a true renaissance
man: painter, poet, composer, lyricist, author, choral arranger and
conductor. He also served on the boards of the Theodore H. Presser Foundation
and the Edwin B. Garrigues Foundation. A
colorful and vibrant man until the very end, he was beloved by the countless
performers and audience members whose lives he touched over a long and
Montgomery served as director of the University of Pennsylvania
Glee Club for 44 years (1956-2000), writing,
directing, choreographing and conducting their shows on many tours around the
world. He published a memoir in 2005 entitled Brothers, Sing On: My
Half-Century Around The World With The Penn Glee Club published by
University of Pennsylvania Press,
relating many of his favorite stories from his tenure as director of the Glee
Club, as well as reminiscences about his Gilbert and Sullivan activities. Montgomery served for
many years as director and/or music
director of Penn’s Mask & Wig Club, the University Band, the Penn Players,
and many other musical and theatrical groups at Penn before his retirement in
2000. In 1971 he helped to create the Penn Singers, a student light opera and
musical theatre company, and continued to serve as their director until his
Montgomery was the Artistic Director of the Gilbert &
Sullivan Players of Philadelphia – a group founded by his father, tenor James
Montgomery – for over three decades after his father died in 1955. Under his
guidance, the group produced over 65 productions. He directed and performed
leading comedic roles in each of the 14 Gilbert and Sullivan operas. He then served as stage director for the
Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Chester
County, PA from 1987
Montgomery’s works have been performed by the Philadelphia
Orchestra, the Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia and many other performing
groups. The music he wrote for Gilbert and Sullivan's Thespis in the
1950s, for which most of Sullivan's original score was lost, was produced on
several occasions, including the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival
in Buxton, England in 2000.
After his 1963 Irish folk opera, Spindrift,
was performed by the Penn Players, he wrote the music and lyrics for a hit 1964
off-Broadway show, The Amorous Flea, receiving rave reviews in the New York papers as “the
greatest melodist since Jerome Kern and the greatest lyricist since Larry
Hart.” The show is still performed in
regional theater around the globe.
2005 Montgomery received an honorary doctorate
degree from his alma mater, Bethany College, in Lindsborg,
Kansas. He was also named “Man of the Year” by the
Friars Club of Philadelphia in 2006.
this long and distinguished career Monty was honored by The University of
Pennsylvania, where the studio theater at The Annenberg Center was renamed the
“Bruce Montgomery Theatre.” The newly
renovated theater was unveiled at a gala celebration on May 10, 2008, marked by
live performances of his original compositions. It was the crowning
achievement in the life of an amazing and gifted man and was his last public
Montgomery was looking forward to
directing a “Gilbert & Sullivan Entertainment” this autumn in honor of
Charles Spencer, the Ninth Lord Spencer, brother to Princess Diana, at a
benefit for Studio Incamminati.
is survived by an older brother, James Montgomery, two younger sisters,
Constance Cook and Elizabeth Thomas, ten nieces and nephews, ten great nieces
and nephews, a great-great nephew and a great-great niece.
will be private and a memorial Celebration of Life is planned for Saturday, October 4th at 3pm at the Zellerbach Theater of The Annenberg Center of The University of Pennsylvania, 37th & Walnut Streets
in Philadelphia. Details will be published on Monty’s website, http://www.montyart.com.
In lieu of flowers Monty’s family requests that contributions be made to: The Glee Club Endowment Fund #402396, c/o Platt Student Performing Arts House, 160 Stouffer Commons, 3702 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. (For further information, phone 215-898-2312). Known as the “150 x 150 Campaign,” this fund was established to honor the Penn Glee Club's 150 years of continuous operation.
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