Florence Kopleff: Transforming Music

Florence Kopleff

Transforming music

A dedicated performer from an early age, Florence Kopleff auditioned as a contralto for well-known conductor Robert Shaw during her senior year of college, and as a result became a soloist with the Grammy-winning Robert Shaw Chorale. She went on to build a national reputation as a soloist while performing with the American Opera Society, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and other major orchestras.

Kopleff came to Georgia State University in 1968 as the School of Music’s first artist-in-residence. As an instructor, Ms. Kopleff was caring, tough and honest. Students loved her classes and knew that if they worked as hard as she expected them to they would emerge as stronger performers and artists. Sue Williams MM ‘83, a former student of Kopleff, recalls, “Music is a natural inheritance of all peoples. Often it can be the key, along with all the arts, to unlocking a person, to revealing all the meaning, emotion and beauty that can be integrated into a life. Florence insisted that her students not only use that key but use it to the very best of their ability.”

Today, though retired, Florence Kopleff continues to make a difference in the lives of talented students in the School of Music. She established a scholarship in 1984 and has left a bequest to support vocal performance at Georgia State through her estate. Kopleff also made significant contributions to the renovation of the school’s 36-year-old recital hall, now named in her honor. A new stage floor, surround-sound system, orchestra pit and aisle expansion are just a few changes that make up the $3 million renovation of the Florence Kopleff Recital Hall. The transformation enhances the hall’s acoustics, which have been the strongest feature of the venue since it first opened. “The Kopleff Recital Hall’s intimate setting and high-quality acoustics makes it one of the best venues in Atlanta for smaller ensembles,” boasts Associate Dean for the Fine Arts Ralph Gilbert.

To honor the tremendous impact of Florence Kopleff and that of other stellar music faculty members, additional alumni and university friends made significant gifts to the School of Music for the recital hall. Sue Williams and her husband, Neil, supported the renovations. Tom and Ann Cousins also recognized the importance of the hall’s transformation. The Charles Thomas Wurm Lobby of the recital hall is named for Tom Cousins’ grandfather, an instrumental musician. Atlanta music legends Bill Lowery and his wife Billie endowed The Bill and Billie Lowery Family Green Room, providing superb rehearsal and concert preparation space in the hall.

The dedication that propelled Kopleff to excellence as a vocalist and teacher and prominence as a member of the Robert Shaw Chorale continues to resonate in her relationship as a donor with Georgia State’s School of Music. It inspires young musicians to attain great things in a hall that is worthy of their talents.

—Contact Donor Relations Director Kim Cretors, (404) 413-3424