Anna Carol Dudley passed away on Thursday, May 27th, in Oakland, California. She was 90 years old. Her family are grateful that we could all visit with her shortly before her passing, and for her long life and the blessings she bestowed on so many as an artist, wife, mother and friend.
Anna Carol was born on the island of Maui in 1931, where her father, Robert Kingdon, was a pastor in the Congregational church in Kahului. In 1940 the family moved to Wisconsin Rapids, WI, where Anna Carol grew up in the parsonage of her father’s new church. The family also bought a one-room log cabin on a lake near the town of Cable where they vacationed during summer, and which remained a favorite place for vacations and family reunions throughout Anna Carol’s life. After graduating from Lincoln High School she attended Oberlin College in Ohio, where she received a BA in history in 1952 and was awarded a Shansi Memorial Fellowship to teach at OCPM elementary school in Madurai, India.
In India Anna Carol studied, among other things, karnatic music (voice and jalatharangam, tuned water bowls). She also deepened her relationship with her future husband, Richard Dudley, who was not only a fellow Shansi rep but also a missionary kid himself, born and raised til the age of 14 in South India. Dick and Anna Carol also formed a life-long friendship with their fellow Shansi reps, Joe and Joann Elder, as well as Dave and Padma Gallup. Upon leaving India in 1954 Anna Carol and Dick travelled overland through the Near East and Turkey, bought bicycles in Switzerland, and cycled through Europe before crossing the Atlantic by ship. Dick was drafted into the army when they returned, while Anna Carol enrolled at the Oberlin Conservatory to study vocal performance with Marion Sims and do a Masters degree in music history. Her 1956 MA thesis was titled, “Raga: The Concept of Melody in the Music of India.”
After completing her MA she married Dick and lived with him for a year at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma, before finally moving out west in 1957. While Dick began graduate studies in political science at the University of California, Berkeley, Anna Carol dove into the Bay Area music scene. She got her first singing jobs with Kenneth Jewell, an Oberlin graduate, who was musical director at First Congregational Church Berkeley. She performed early music with harpsichordist Donald Pippin at the Old Spaghetti Factory in San Francisco, sang with the Berkeley Chamber Singers, and participated regularly in the Cabrillo Music Festival.
Anna Carol and Dick returned to India from 1969-1971 with their sons Shannon and David (their third son, Justin, was born in Delhi). Dick directed the University of Wisconsin’s year-in-India program, and Anna Carol kept active musically, performing concerts for the U.S. Information Service in India, Afghanistan and Ceylon.
Back in the Bay Area in the 1970s and 80s, while Dick taught political science at Diablo Valley Community College, Anna Carol became increasingly involved in contemporary music. She sang with groups such as Earplay, Composers Inc., Kronos Quartet, Mills College Performing Group, Sounds New, San Francisco Contemporary Players, and premiered the works of many composers. She made records of songs by Charles Seeger, Luigi Dallopicola, and Henry Purcell with the 1750 Arch label in Berkeley. Her early music work also continued during these years, as a soloist with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and notably with Tapestry (originally the Elizabethan Trio), a group that included Lorette Goldberg, Judy Nelson and Rella Lossy.
Anna Carol taught voice at San Francisco State University from 1976 to 1994, and also for some years at UC Berkeley and Stanislaus State. In the late 1970s and early 1980s she directed the San Francisco Early Music Society’s Baroque Music and Dance workshops in the summer, and was SFEMS president from 1981 to 1982. She took leadership roles in other Bay Area arts organizations, including the Jr. Bach Festival and Earplay.
As energetic as Anna Carol was in her musical career, she was always devoted to her family. Her three sons were the light of her life and she shuttled them to music lessons and rehearsals, as well as classes in drawing, ceramics, dance, gymnastics and whatever else she thought would be good for them. She and Dick treasured California’s natural beauty and took the family hiking, camping, skiing, and boating. Especially memorable were summer backpacking trips with Marge and Ken Sauer and their four boys (Anna Carol was fated to share her life with lots of boys, having also grown up with four brothers). Music and family merged in the Christmas season when Anna Carol hosted a neighborhood caroling party, and took the family to the Sauers’ house on new year’s eve to sing madrigals.
In 1994 her first grandchild, Agueda, was born. Agueda spent her first year living in Grandma’s house, which also became a second home for granddaughter Emma, who grew up around the corner. When she travelled to Seattle to visit Agueda and Gabriel, or Cincinnati to visit Max and Margaret, or when the grandchildren visited her in Berkeley, Grandma was always up to play a game, read a book, or do something fun outdoors.
In her elder years Anna Carol continued to perform, giving a recital for her birthday each year at FCCB until she was 80. She also reviewed concerts and opera for San Francisco Classical Voice, and served as treasurer for the Women Musicians Club. When Dick passed away in 2016 Anna Carol grieved for him deeply. She moved to Piedmont Gardens retirement home in Oakland shortly afterwards, where she gave her last public performance in September 2017. It was a recital of Emily Dickenson poems set to music by Aaron Copland, accompanied on piano by her friend Jerry Kuderna. At the Piedmont Gardens dinner table she also noticed how much her companions enjoyed listening to songs from their youth, and thought perhaps she would do a concert of Tin Pan Alley hits next.
Anna Carol is survived by her brothers Henry, John and Arthur; by her sons and daughters-in-law, Shannon Dudley and Marisol Berríos-Miranda, David Dudley and Jen Friedman, and Justin and Susan Sprigg Dudley; and by her grandchildren Agueda, Emma, Gabriel, Max and Margaret. She will be missed and remembered by many.
A memorial service will be held Saturday June 26th at 10:00am, at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, in Berkeley, CA. Pending new state COVID guidelines, we expect attendees to wear masks, and for singing to be limited to performers and choir. The church is large and well-ventilated and every other pew will be left empty.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Anna Carol Dudley Memorial Fund at the San Francisco Early Music Society. If you’d like to contribute, you can mail a check to SFEMS at PO Box 10151, Berkeley, CA 94709 (noting the memorial fund in the memo line) or use a credit card at sfems.org/donate.