Vivian Lee Poates Wood

Vivian Lee Poates Wood passed away on Monday, April 12, 2021 at the age of 97.

In 1971, after an 18 year operatic career in Europe, singing Mezzo-soprano roles, Dr. Wood became Head of the Voice Department at the University of Southern Mississippi. During her tenure as a singer and teacher of singers who achieved national and international recognition, she served as Assistant Dean and Acting Dean of the College of the Arts, retiring from the University in 2000.

She loved teaching and her students received many awards including Fulbright and Rotary International Scholarships, Metropolitan Opera Auditions Awards, and scholarships to prominent conservatories throughout the world including the Royal Academy of Music in London, the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the Hochschule fuer Musik in Munich,  Conservatories in France and Italy, and The Juilliard in New York City.  Her students have enjoyed operatic careers in Italy, Austria and Switzerland.  Many have achieved positions in churches and schools, colleges and universities, and she was proud to say her graduates had taught, at one time, in every Mississippi college or university.

Dr. Wood studied with notable teachers including:  Walter Anderson, Denise Restout, Paul A. Pisk, Paul Ulanowsky, Elemer Nagy and Vyautas Marijosius.  Dr. Wood’s biography in the International Who’s Who in Music and Who’s Who in America states that she received her Ph.D.  and her Master’s degree at Washington University, St. Louis and her undergraduate degree from Hartt  College of Music.  She also attended Antioch College and Yale University where she was an Ellen Battel Stoeckel Fellow.

Her Singing debut was at the 1953 Jeunesses Musicales Arts Festival and she won the Young American Concert Award in New York City in 1955.  She was a solo fellowship winner at Tanglewood in 1964.  She earned many awards and honors including an appointment to the 1st Mississippi Governors Advisory Panel for Gifted and Talented Children in 1974 and was a member of the Alliance for Arts Education, Kennedy Center in 1974.  Her Academic career included an appointment as the first Guest Professor at the Staatliche Hochschule fuer Musik in Munich Germany (the German National Music Conservatory).  She also taught in Salzburg, Austria and Rome, Italy during the summer sessions.  Her book, “Poulenc’s  Songs:  An Analysis of Style” was published in 1979.  It is used in most colleges and universities.

It is little known that during World War ll she served as one of the young civilian cryptographers attached to the U.S. Navy, Japanese Division, in Washington, D.C. She is a member of All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church, Washington, D.C.  Her parents died when she was a child and her grandparents Edward and Rosa Lee Wood raised her in Washington, D.C. where she finished High School.

She leaves no living relatives.

A memorial service for Dr. Vivian Lee Poates Wood will be held on Wednesday, June 9, 2021 at 1:00 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, located at 509 West Pine street.  Please follow the CDC guidelines by wearing a mask and observing social distancing as applicable.