Dr Joyce Kennedy: 1933 – 2021

It is with deep sadness that we report the death of our long-standing supporter and friend, Dr Joyce Kennedy on Thursday 1 July at the age of 88.

Born in Hull in 1933, Joyce moved to Manchester in 1952 to study at the Medical School of Manchester University. From 1958 until her retirement in 1990 she practised as an anaesthetist and general practitioner but maintained her lifelong interest in music and opera in particular.

Sir John Tomlinson, Dr Joyce Kennedy and Joan Rodgers CBE

l-r: Sir John Tomlinson, Dr Joyce Kennedy and Joan Rodgers CBE backstage at the RNCM after the 2015 Michael Kennedy Memorial Concert

Married to the late Michael Kennedy since 1999, Joyce worked as his researcher, typist and, on the incredible Oxford Dictionary of Music, his co-author. A writer in her own right, OUP published her first book, Who’s Who in Opera (an analysis of 2,500 roles from 280 operas) in 1998 and 10 years’ later, Mitchell Beazley published Opera: the great composers and their master works.

Alongside opera, Joyce and Michael were lovers of the music of Richard Strauss and felt that his Lieder were just as great as those of Schubert, Schumann in Wolf. In 2011, in recognition of this, they established the Joyce and Michael Kennedy Award for the Singing of Strauss at the RNCM. With past winners including Lee Bisset, Nadine Livingston, John Pierce and Kathryn Rudge, the competition remains one of the College’s most eminent vocal prizes, with a long history of identifying and providing vital early career support for singers.

Michael and Joyce Kennedy with competitors of the Strauss Prize

Michael and Joyce Kennedy pictured with competitors and accompanists of the Joyce and Michael Kennedy Award for the Singing of Strauss.

Right up until this year’s award, which took place on Sunday 27 June, Joyce remained closely involved in the prize and in the life of the RNCM. She was an extremely loyal advocate of the School of Vocal Studies and Opera and was a hugely valued member of the Principal’s Circle of donors.

In 2013 the College honoured this commitment by awarding her Honorary Membership of the RNCM. Her knowledge, enthusiasm, impact and support will be greatly missed.

6 July 2021

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