Florence Kopleff’s Archives Newly Accessible
The School of Music and the University Library are pleased to report that the Florence Kopleff Collection is now catalogued and the finding aid (search) is online and fully functional at: http://digitalcollections.library.gsu.edu/cdm/ref/collection/findingaids/id/2265 The collection can be assessed by those interested in researching – or simply knowing more about – Kopleff’s singing career, the history of Robert Shaw and the Chorale, the related discographies, and materials pertaining to the management of professional choral ensembles across time. Kevin Fleming manages the collection as Popular Music and Culture Archivist for the University Library.
Miss Kopleff directed that her personal papers, letters, programs, and recordings be given to the Special Collections and Archives in the Georgia State University Library. Kopleff, who was the secretary of the Robert Shaw Chorale for many years, kept financial records of the ensemble’s tours, Shaw’s speeches and choral letters, and other memorabilia. Following a brilliant professional singing career, primarily with the Robert Shaw Chorale, Florence Kopleff joined the School of Music faculty as Artist-in-Residence in 1968. Nick Jones, former annotator for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra described her voice as “haunting in its sad nobility, reassuring in its unwavering conviction . . . a voice that defined for many music lovers the ideal sound for a contralto: deep and rich in tone, rock-solid in technique and intonation, understated but eloquent in nuance.”
Recognized as one of Georgia State’s finest teachers, she was honored with the Alumni Distinguished Professor Award in 1982. Former GSU President Carl Patton wrote in her 1998 retirement program, “The best teachers do not merely tell their students what to do; they show them. For 30 years, you have achieved great teacher status by providing a model for our students, both professionally and personally.”
John Haberlen, former Director of the School of Music, recently commented, “Florence Kopleff was generous as a colleague, honest with advice and very committed to GSU.” That commitment became apparent when she established the Florence Kopleff Vocal Scholarship in the 1990s and gave over $100,000 to the Recital Hall renovation fund from 2000-2008. Following her death in June 2013, Co-Executors John Haberlen and Betty Boone announced a bequeath of $525,000 to establish the Florence Kopleff Recital Hall Endowment Fund in support of vocal/choral/opera activities, vocal master classes, opera productions and hall improvements. Patrick Freer, the School of Music’s current interim Director, has been working to ensure that these funds are managed in a fiscally prudent manner consistent with the goals of Florence Kopleff and the needs of the School.