Helen Hodam (1914–2008) joined the New England Conservatory voice faculty for the 1978/1979 academic year, while still teaching at Oberlin College. In 1984 she retired from Oberlin, and quickly became one of NEC's most highly requested teachers, with a full-time studio. She continued to teach through 2003, when her health made it no longer possible to come to the NEC campus. NEC's October 24 homecoming weekend, "A Celebration of Song," included a tribute to Hodam in Jordan Hall, with performances by her students extending from the class of 1981 to current undergraduates. Helen Hodam died May 21, 2008.
Hodam counted 12 European and 20 Canadian and U.S. opera houses where her students have sung, including the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Chicago Lyric Opera, Houston Grand Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opéra Bastille (Paris), La Scala (Milan), and the opera companies of Cologne, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden, Bielefeld, Bremen, and Zürich.
Hodam's students won many prestigious prizes: 20 successfully competed in Metropolitan Opera auditions, winning district, semifinal, or final competitions. Two of her students won Dealey awards; three of them Fulbrights, and 20 were first-place winners in National Association of Teachers of Singing competitions. Among currently active, noted teachers of singing, NEC's Carole Haber is a former student of Helen Hodam, and teaches in the studio where she once took lessons.
Hodam's teaching career started in 1963, at Oberlin. In recognition of her achievements, Hodam was elected to the American Academy of Teachers of Singing in 1988. She was appointed adjudicator in 1998 for the Washington International Competition for Singers.
Although teaching may have been her main professional interest, Hodam was a soprano soloist for many years, singing at Christ Church in New York and at other churches; with various opera and summer theater groups, including the Paper Mill Playhouse and the Berkshire Opera Players; as well as on live radio programs.
B.M., Illinois Wesleyan University; M.M., The Hartt School. Studies at Manhattan School of Music, Royal Academy of Music (London), Goethe Institute (Munich), The Juilliard School, Alliance Française (New York and Paris), University of Vienna, Mozarteum (Salzburg).
A memorial for Helen Hodam was held at NEC on September 20, 2008.
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