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Leonard Van Camp

Leonard Van Camp

(1934 - 2003)

Leonard W. Van Camp was born in Wichita, Kansas, on June 12, 1934. He was known in the United Sates and Europe for his activities related to choral music. Dr. Van Camp was Professor of Music at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). He joined SIUE music faculty in 1963 and endeared himself to singers and audiences while at the university, with his trade mark lecture-concerts and his fierce enthusiasm for the music he conducted. As director of choral activities at SIUE, he served for 30 years and conducted the SIUE Concert Chorale, whose name has become synonymous throughout the world with award-winning performance.

Arrangement of Records Dr. Van Camp had a worldwide reputation as a choral expert and clinician who published numerous articles in several U.S. music publications and in the World Book Encyclopedia. His widely acclaimed edition of Handel's Messiah (Roger Dean Publishing, 1993) was praised for both its scholarship and its practicality in performance. Dr. Van Camp's accompanying book A Practical Guide to Performing, Teaching and Singing Messiah, was followed by similar volumes for Brahms Requiem and Mendelssohn's Elijah.

His Research interests included editing early American choral music, especially the music of America's first important composer, William Billings. Leonard Van Camp also edited the music of nearly 150 composers or idioms in his contribution to the catalogs of 33 American publishers, including ECS, Lawson-Gould, Concordia Publishing House, Carl Fischer, C.F. Peters, Mark Foster and Theodore Presser. Some of the better known composers whose work he edited include Bach, Brahms, Stephen Foster, Handel Haydn, Lowell Mason, Mendelssohn Mozart, Purcell, Schutz and Schubert. Five Oratories were translated from German into English by Dr. Van Camp and performed by his choirs and the orchestra at SIUE. His books for solo voices and duets (Carl Fischer and Laudamus Press) have filled a critical need in literature for voice teachers and soloists. His most recent publication was a book on how to perform his favorite musical piece, the Brahms Requiem.

Dr. Van Camp

In addition to teaching, lecturing and conducting, Dr. Van Camp appeared frequently as a baritone soloist, including solo recitals and performances with the Kansas City and Indianapolis symphony orchestras. He recorded on Vox Records with Gregg Smith Singers. He also taught at the junior high and high school levels in Kansas City, Kansas, before arriving at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, to teach voice, music education and music theory and to direct that school's chapel choir.

He retired from SIUE in 1999, and during this retirement years, Dr. Van Camp continued appearances as a guest conductor, conducted his choral research and pursued his personal love of gardening at his home in Edwardsville, Illinois.

Dr. Van Camp died on May 27, 2003, and his funeral services were held on Saturday, May 31, 2003, at Eden United Church of Christ in Edwardsville, Illinois. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Edwardsville, Illinois.

(This obituary was taken from Madison County News Democrat and was published on May 29, 2003.)

E-mail comments and inquiries about the Leonard Van Camp Collection to Therese Dickman, Fine Arts Librarian, at or call 618-650-2695.

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