Shenandoah Conservatory Professor Emerita of Voice Donna Gullstrand Davidson, M.M., passed away on Nov. 24. Gullstrand began working at Shenandoah in 1977, and retired in 2010. She continued teaching as an adjunct for an additional two years, with a total of 35 years of dedicated service to the SU’s artistic and educational community. She received a Wilkins Award in 2005.
Gullstrand, along with her siblings Janice Keeley and James Kemmerer, helped establish the Kemmerer Family Scholarship Fund in 2007, to honor the legacy of their parents and support musical theatre students at Shenandoah Conservatory. The renewable scholarship has been awarded to five talented and deserving students since it was established.
She also helped establish Performing Arts Live — Shenandoah Conservatory’s multidisciplinary series presenting performances by award-winning innovators and masters in the fields of music, theatre and dance — in 2008.
“Apart from being a supportive teacher, colleague and my duet partner with a beautiful, luscious soprano voice, Donna had an infectious laugh and a generous spirit, was an incredible seamstress, an excellent cook, a loyal friend and ‘Grandma Donna’ to our children,” said Auxiliary Adjunct Associate Professor of Voice and Co-founder of the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute Edrie Means Weekly ’84, M.M.
Gullstrand, lyric soprano, performed extensively in the Washington, D.C., area with such groups as Paul Hill Chorale, Washington Chorus, Fairfax Symphony, Fairfax Choral Society, Alexandria Choral Society, Twentieth Century Consort, Washington Civic Opera, Friday Morning Music Club and the Dumbarton Oaks concert series. She sang the role of Lizzie Borden in the Washington premiere of Thomas Albert’s opera “Lizbeth.” Additionally, she was a soloist with such groups as Bach Aria Group Festival, Maryland Symphony, Shippensburg Chamber Orchestra Festival, Richmond Sinfonia, Huntington Chamber Orchestra, Concord Chamber Singers, St. Bartholomew’s Great Music Series, Sarasota Choral Society, Charlottesville-Albemarle County Oratorio Society and in WGAL-TV’s Children’s Miracle Network Telethon performance of “Messiah” with Robert Page of the Cleveland Symphony. Concerts abroad included tours in Brazil, Russia, Thailand, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Zimbabwe.
She also performed leading musical theatre roles in regional summer stock. Former students have appeared in regional music theatre, on Broadway and in national and international tours originating from Broadway productions. She served on the faculty and was a founding member of the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute through which Shenandoah Conservatory offered a university degree program with vocal technique training for non-classical styles for the first time in the country.
Gullstrand was founder and coordinator of The Civil War from the Piano Bench, a faculty ensemble that performs songs of the Civil War in period costume along with a media presentation.