ForeverMissed
Michael Alan Nathan 
(August 13, 1960 - May 2, 2020)

This memorial website was created to honor Alan Nathan and in order to allow his friends to light a candle or leave a note in his memory.

A Celebration of Life, held both in person and via an online sharing platform, will be held in the near future.  In the meantime, if you have any photos of Alan or written memories you'd be willing to share, please send them to:  molly.fillmore@gmail.com.

Thank you for your time and for sharing,
Molly Fillmore        
Posted by Natalia Tokar on May 3, 2021
I always admired how great amount of music repertoire Professor Nathan could store in his memory: how easily he could support every his thesis with demonstration of literally every opera, art song or chamber music piece taken from any point and motivating his students to think, search, discover, and try more.
Posted by Dean Jong on May 3, 2021
Professor Nathan (as we called him) made me the pianist and musician I am today. It wasn't until I began studying with him that my skills really developed as he helped me discover who I was as a pianist. I will forever remember his tough but affectionate teachings, his humor, and his endless amount of knowledge for music and piano. I feel fortunate to have had such a wonderful teacher, mentor, and friend.
Posted by Jillian Baker Coleman on May 3, 2021
I just learned of Professor Nathan’s passing and felt compelled to share a tribute. I met Professor Nathan at my time at MSU. I can honestly say that my Opera class with him at the helm was one that I have some of the fondest memories and that I learned the most from. As a music teacher myself now, I look back on that time and remember him challenging me to be the very best I could be. Right when I thought it was too hard, he would say some profound comment about the music that would make me want to keep trying and keep learning. As many others have mentioned he had an amazing witty and dry sense of humor that could pass unnoticed if you weren’t smart enough to listen closely. I listened really closely, thanks for all you taught me.
Posted by Sangmi Lim on May 2, 2021
Professor Nathan was a kind, intelligent, and passionate teacher. I remember in one of our lesson, he was trying to show me the beauty and complex of French songs. When I see complicated chords with lots of accidentals, I think of him - play from the bottom note and build up to top! How simple and important way to learn the music. Thank you professor Nathan for all you have taught me. You definitely made me a better musician. I know you will conduct angel’s choir in heaven.
Posted by Michael Blaney on April 13, 2021
Allan was a friend and wonderful musician and mentor to many singers I hope you will post when the place and the time
Posted by Katie Katinas on June 18, 2020
Dear Family,
I cannot believe I am reading this. I had just joined Facebook and learned of Alan's passing today. You cannot believe that I have recently been thinking of him as I have been practicing "Ain't it a Pretty Night". Alan hated that aria and said so when I auditioned with it for WNO. I have been wondering why he did not care for that aria and thought maybe I would some day find out. I am so sorry for your loss. What a huge loss. What a strong human being who as a professional was so committed that I am sure as a person in a strong family circle was equally committed. I can only imagine the fierce loyalty he brought as a father. I wish your family healing and peace and know that your beloved Alan was a passionate human being that brought his passion to the people he touched.
With heartfelt sadness,
Katie Katinas
Posted by Cecilia Crawford on June 8, 2020
Alan was brilliant, funny, kind; exacting, precise, intelligent; a formidable musician & great guy. Go with God, Alan, & Rest in peace. Condolences to all who loved & respected him-we are all much better musicians & people having known him.
Posted by Paul Klingenberg on May 25, 2020
All my condolences to the family, Molly, and Olivia. I performed in the Washington National Opera chorus while Alan was the chorus master, and was privileged enough to have been a part of Boito's Mefistofele where Alan prepared the chorus. I'll never forget his wit, his musicianship, and his intensity. He was always intense in rehearsals, but it was especially memorable during the many backstage/offstage choral entrances that frequently occur in opera.
Posted by Margaret Stricklett on May 10, 2020
My husband Michael and I were lucky enough to be singing in the chorus of The Washington Opera during the years Alan Nathan was the chorus master. Those years, in our memory, are bright with exquisite music and dramatic scenes we will never forget. Alan was such a driver of that experience that the two seem to go hand in hand. We will never forget those years, those musical experiences and the part that Alan played in shaping them to magnificence with his brilliance. Thank you, Alan. You will never be forgotten. Our heartfelt condolences to Molly, whom we remember also during that time as a bright light of beauty in her voice and acting, and to the beautiful Olivia, who has such a look of Alan in her face.
Posted by Steve Nathan on May 7, 2020
Thank you, all of you, many I don't know, this is comforting - Alan is smiling I am sure

Steve Nathan
Muncie, IN
Posted by Shelby VanNordstrand on May 6, 2020
I have many good memories of all I learned from Alan when I was a student at Michigan State University. He talked about music, song, and opera with a synthesis that was simultaneously erudite and organic. His love of singers and the human voice was evident. As a coach, he was exacting, meticulous, encouraging, and always full of wit. One had to pay attention to catch all of the witty remarks he made during a lecture or coaching. I took for granted his ability to play everything, it seemed, in the operatic canon with ease, confidence, sensitivity, and precision. Thanks for sharing your music with us, Alan!
Posted by Camille Ortiz on May 5, 2020
Joey and I send our deepest condolences. Sending a big loving hug to Olivia, who is a beautiful gift to the world, and praying for peace and comfort. 
Posted by Mary Mills on May 5, 2020
I am so terribly sad to hear about Alan. I first met him in DC for a production there, and then in Cologne, where our daughters were born one day apart! We had many newborn baby playdates- precious memories, all. What an amazing musician and coach he was, too! He was so very proud of his beautiful Olivia. He was also lots of fun to work with. I send my love and deep condolences to Olivia and Molly and all of his family and friends.
Posted by Tracy Davidson on May 5, 2020
My deepest condolences to Alan's family and friends. It is such a loss for all of us who knew him. Along with his extraordinary gifts with music, he filled any room with fierce passion of every part of musicality. He gave me my first job as a professional opera singer in the chorus of Luisa Miller at Washington Opera in 1995. It meant so much to me to have the opportunity to do so and work with him. I feel so fortunate to have known him.
Posted by Catherine Huntress-Reeve on May 5, 2020
Among Alan Nathan's great musical gifts was that of never being satisfied, but always finding a way to enhance, or refine, or develop not only a performance, but the singers. Thank you, Alan, for guiding us, and noodging us, and polishing us.
Posted by Janet Williams on May 5, 2020
Sending love and light to all who knew and loved Alan Nathan, especially his pride and joy, his heartthrob and daughter, Olivia. Olivia, your father adored you! He spoke of you with such pride and awe! You were the love that was his reason for being! He spoke of Molly just as lovingly - I have a feeling Molly was the love of his life. Alan and I went to IU together. Years later, we met up again in Cologne and then later at the Kennedy Center Honors, where he conducted the tribute to Marilyn Horne in 1996. In 2009, he arranged for and invited me to come back to my alma mater, Michigan State University, where he was on the music faculty. He accompanied a recital I gave, where I was presented a distinguished alumni award - something that I'm sure he had a hand in arranging. Alan was thoughtful, brilliant and full of a love for music. Not only that, he was a great guy with a big, open heart. He will be missed. I'm so grateful that our life paths crossed.
Posted by Joel Schmidt on May 5, 2020
Alan's encyclopedic knowledge of vocal repertoire and recordings gave us who worked with him the deepest of wells to draw from. Along with his brilliant musicianship and acerbic wit he continually offered kind words of encouragement and support - who's combination always took music making to a higher level...particularly the WNO's mid 90's Mefistofele. Thank you Alan, I will miss you - sincere condolences to his loved ones.
Posted by Peter Bianchi on May 5, 2020
Deepest Sympathies to Olivia et al.
I met Alan in Pittsburgh during his time as Chorus master at Pittsburgh Opera. He hired me for my first opera with the company. Such a wonderful talented man. Very giving of his love for and knowledge of music. We reconnected via Facebook a few years back. It was wonderful to have chats with him and catch up on years gone by. May peace and comfort be with you.
Posted by Sonya Baker on May 5, 2020
Alan was brilliant and kind. We were in grad school together where he played for my first master’s recital. I didn’t have an undergrad degree in music when I got to IU, so I was deeply intimidated and had so much to learn. Alan generously shared his knowledge and constantly reminded me that I was an artist whether I had previous musical training or not. I was happy to be back in touch via Facebook a few years ago and just recently visited his page hoping to find where he was these days. I miss my friend. May his soul Rest In Peace.
Posted by Rosalind Gnatt on May 5, 2020
It seems to me that genius must nearly always be a two-edged sword. We, who knew him as our chorus master and friend also knew how difficult it often was for Alan to live in his own skin. First Molly, and then Alan and Molly, lived with us on Davenport Street and were a big part of my baby daughter Emily's life and of my life as well. At some point we all landed in NYC and little Olivia became a beautiful presence in our lives.
Whatever inner demons he fought, it is Alan's breathtaking talent and wit that stay with me. I'll never forget: we were rehearsing Turandot: Alan stopped, took a deep breath and solemnly said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Dieci mille anni and dieci mille ani are NOT the same!" Thanks for the memories -
Rest in peace, Alan. The battle is over...
Posted by Ros Pettit on May 4, 2020
I will never forget my first experience with Alan working on Russian with WNO. I couldn't believe how exacting and passionate he was. He always wanted to create the very best musical product possible. He was a good man and a consummate musician.
My heart goes to you Molly and to Olivia...may you all find peace.
Much love!
Posted by Kathy Price on May 4, 2020
Alan was a brilliant person, an inspiring musician, and a kind, supportive friend. I extend my heartfelt sympathy to his loved ones. He will be deeply missed.
Posted by Patricia Hussey on May 4, 2020
I always admired Alan for his great talent. I’m so sorry to hear about his passing. Sending his loved ones sincere condolences. RIP Maestro Nathan❤️
Posted by Michael Blaney on May 4, 2020
I will always loved Alan as a chorus master with the WNO...he was a mench… also a brilliant conductor & pianist. Blessings and prayers to his family and his memory and his contributions to music!
Posted by Christine Thomas-O'Meally on May 4, 2020
Alan was one of the most important people in my musical life and a dear friend. I am devastated that I will never hear his voice or his wonderful playing again or have the opportunity to work with him. I've been wondering how he was doing for some time, and always hoped to hear from him again.
Posted by Michael Bicoy on May 4, 2020
I will miss Alan dearly he always supported me with my singing career
Posted by James Hampton on May 4, 2020
I'm so very sorry to learn of Alan's passing. He was a brilliant musician and a trusted confidant. I wish him eternal peace.
Posted by Anne Hagan on May 4, 2020
Nathan was a brillant coach, accompanist, and friend at IU. We loved working on Strauss together and he was one of those collaborators who could make magic. He will be missed.
Posted by Tony Torchia on May 4, 2020
I can't believe that he is gone. I know I missed his FB entries, but I had no idea why. He was a great friend and choir master at Washington National Opera. He'll be greatly missed. Tony Torchia.
Posted by Jeffrey Snider on May 4, 2020
Alan was a dear friend in college, and was the pianist for my master's voice recital. He will be missed.
Posted by Dr Angel M. Kelly-Shelby,... on May 4, 2020
Having never met Alan in person, I did know of his prestigious life in the world of music. His forever gift of his daughter Olivia brings Sunshine and rainbows to all who know and love her.
Thank you for letting me know of his all too soon passing.
Dr Angel M. Kelly-Shelby, FNPC

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Natalia Tokar on May 3, 2021
I always admired how great amount of music repertoire Professor Nathan could store in his memory: how easily he could support every his thesis with demonstration of literally every opera, art song or chamber music piece taken from any point and motivating his students to think, search, discover, and try more.
Posted by Dean Jong on May 3, 2021
Professor Nathan (as we called him) made me the pianist and musician I am today. It wasn't until I began studying with him that my skills really developed as he helped me discover who I was as a pianist. I will forever remember his tough but affectionate teachings, his humor, and his endless amount of knowledge for music and piano. I feel fortunate to have had such a wonderful teacher, mentor, and friend.
Posted by Jillian Baker Coleman on May 3, 2021
I just learned of Professor Nathan’s passing and felt compelled to share a tribute. I met Professor Nathan at my time at MSU. I can honestly say that my Opera class with him at the helm was one that I have some of the fondest memories and that I learned the most from. As a music teacher myself now, I look back on that time and remember him challenging me to be the very best I could be. Right when I thought it was too hard, he would say some profound comment about the music that would make me want to keep trying and keep learning. As many others have mentioned he had an amazing witty and dry sense of humor that could pass unnoticed if you weren’t smart enough to listen closely. I listened really closely, thanks for all you taught me.
his Life

Michael Alan Nathan

Michael Alan Nathan was born on August 13, 1960, in Louisville, Kentucky.  His parents were T. Paul Nathan and Doris (Gutman) Nathan, and Alan had two older siblings, his brother Steve Nathan and his sister, Janis Nathan.  

Though he only began playing the piano at age eleven, he quickly showed himself to be an exceptional talent, and just six years later, was admitted as a piano performance major to Indiana University.  While at Indiana University, he made many lifelong friends, and discovered his love and talent for vocal coaching, as he was a regular pianist in the vocal studios of Virginia Zeani, Nicola Rossi-Lomeni, and many others.  He was invited by tenor James King to travel with him and his wife, Elizabeth, to Europe as an accompanist.  Thus began the beginning of a long and meaningful friendship, and Alan always saw James as one his most important mentors in life.  In later years, they would perform a recital together in Cologne, Germany. 

Alan's first professional job in opera was with Virginia Opera, and during this time he spent a season as a guest chorus master for the the Opera National de Mexico at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City.  Alan then moved to Pittsburgh Opera, where he served as the chorus master.  In 1992, he moved to The Washington Opera at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where he served as Head of Music and Chorus Master.  He had enormous success in Washington, D.C.;  for example, his preparation of the chorus for Turandot received accolades from the German publication Opernwelt and the chorus he prepared for Boito's Mefistofele earned him acclaim in The New York Times.  Alan also, with 24 hours' notice, successfully prepared and conducted Verdi's Otello.  Additional conducting opportunities with The Washington Opera followed, as well as an invitation to conduct an orchestral concert at the Spoleto Festival in Italy. 

In 1997, Alan moved to Cologne, Germany, where he served as Studienleiter for Oper der Stadt Köln.  His daughter, Olivia Rachel, was born at the Krankenhaus am Weyertal in Cologne in April 2001.  In the years that followed, Alan joined the faculty at Michigan State University as a Visiting Professor of Collaborative Piano.

Due to decreasing eyesight and other health issues, Alan was not able to play piano or coach in his final years, but he will be remembered by those that heard him play for the gorgeous tone quality of his piano playing (one conductor rightfully noted, "he makes the piano reduction sound like one is hearing an orchestra") combined with an intuitive, easy mastery of technique. 

Alan loved to travel, and visited many European countries as well as China and many states in the United States.  He was an avid reader, and was interested in many topics, but he especially enjoyed history, science, and art.  

Alan is survived by his daughter, Olivia, of Denton, Texas, his brother Steve, of Muncie, Indiana, and many friends.  

Recent stories

Immense talent

Shared by Marie-France Lefebvre on May 8, 2020
Alan had very high expectations from himself, and from all, particularly when it pertained to music. His knowledge of piano technique, pianists, conductors, singers and style was immense, and he loved to have passionate conversations about it all. We had many, many coffees and (too many?) pastries from the Watergate Bakery, over incredible exchanges about music and life. His laugh...could be hard earned, but was memorable!

He was a very naturally gifted pianist, one with an exceptionally warm sound. At the piano, his soul revealed itself freely, no obstacles, no barriers remained. His generous spirit shone in all its splendor through his playing.

I will always feel I owe him a lot: he took a chance and hired me when I had practically no experience at all, and believed in my talent. I made the very best of the opportunity.

He loved his TWO (now WNO) chorus and was very proud of them. 

His devotion to Olivia was complete; he was as proud a father as one could be. Sending lots of love and strength to Olivia and Molly. 

Marie-France
Shared by Barry Lawrence on May 5, 2020
   During my time in graduate study at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, I had the privilege of working with Alan. He was honest ,direct and to the point. He was also there to spare and debate repertoire. I loved his frankness and his unbelievable knowledge about recordings and musical style. I loved making him laugh because it traveled throughout his body. He coached me through Barbiere and really opened my mind to the possibility of my voice singing Baroque coloratura. I will cherish the memories, the conversations and the laughter and I will miss this incomparable man and his formidable spirit. Rest in peace my friend! Love and light always!