College mourns passing of Barbara Hardgrave, emerita professor of music

Barbara Hardgrave

It is with sadness that the College shares the news of the death of Emerita Professor Barbara Hardgrave on Feb. 18, 2019.

Hardgrave, born in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, on Feb. 2, 1942, earned her MFA from the New England Conservatory and joined the Department of Music at SUNY New Paltz in 1967. A distinguished mezzo soprano and voice teacher, she served as department chair for many years and was instrumental in the growth of music programs at New Paltz until her retirement in 2005.

As an educator, Hardgrave specialized in art song literature and classical vocal diction. She provided diction coaching to numerous performers and opera companies over the course of her career, including the San Francisco Opera, the Central City Opera and Opera Fort Collins in Colorado.

Hardgrave was also a widely-admired performer in solo and accompanied concerts, and she often saved her most impassioned work for Hudson Valley audiences.

She played Annina (“La Traviata”), Suzuki (“Madama Butterfly”), and Mamma Lucia (“Cavaleria Rusticana”) with the Hudson Valley Philharmonic; enjoyed contralto roles in Gilbert & Sullivan Musical Theatre Company productions of “The Mikado,” “HMS Pinafore” and “Ruddigore”; appeared in productions of “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Madame Butterfly” at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie; and can be heard on the Soundspells Productions compact disc of “The Proscenium,” a one-act chamber opera written for her by composer Meyer Kupferman.

Hardgrave was also a regular performer on the SUNY New Paltz campus, delighting campus community members for nearly four decades with her renditions of classical and musical theatre songs, and singing at many Commencement ceremonies.

In addition to her performances, Hardgrave was a beloved member of the New Paltz community, active in faculty governance and regional volunteerism. She was an initial member of the School of Fine & Performing Arts Advisory Board when it launched in 2012, and as president of the Elting Library Board of Trustees, Hardgrave was central to the effort to raise awareness and support for a budget referendum that, upon its passage in 2009, secured the library’s financial survival for years to come.

Hardgrave was predeceased by husband Ron Steinberg, himself a member of the SUNY New Paltz faculty in the Department of Political Science & International Relations.

A memorial event for Barbara Hardgrave will take place at Studley Theatre on the SUNY New Paltz campus on Sunday, April 28, from 2 – 4 p.m.