Nov. 2, 1921 — June 15, 2013
Rilla Rowe Mervine, age 91, of Hamilton, N.D., passed away peacefully on Saturday, June 15, 2013, in Placerville, Calif. She was a loving mother to daughter Meredith Stirling (husband J.) and sons Michael Mervine (wife Jane), Tim Mervine and Jon Mervine. She was blessed with 15 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her devoted husband, Frank Savage Mervine; and her son, David James Mervine.
Rilla began her musical studies in her native North Dakota with her mother, who was her first teacher in both voice and piano. She received an AA degree from North Dakota State and her BA from the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Md., where she held two scholarships. Upon graduation she was given the Thomas Award for outstanding scholarship and musicianship and was also winner of the Baltimore Symphony Young Artist Award. She studied with Oren Brown of the Juilliard School of Music.
Rilla was a frequent soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the United States Army Band, the United States Air Force Symphony Orchestra and the North Carolina Symphony. She appeared with the Peabody Symphony, the National Oratorio Society, the National Gallery of Art, the Mendelssohn Choir, the National Cathedral Choir, the Richmond Chamber Players and with many other orchestras and oratorio societies. As a recitalist, Mrs. Mervine performed many programs at the Phillips Collection, Amherst College, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Catholic University of America, George Mason University and at Steinway Hall in New York City.
Rilla was an Adjunct Professor of Voice at both the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and at George Mason University of Virginia. She was an Artist Member of the Mu Phi Epsilon international fraternity and the National Association of Teachers of Singing.
A review of one of Rilla’s performances, written by Michael Cordovana in The Washington Post, stated, “It was a pleasure to hear the sumptuous voice of Rilla Mervine again. Her singing … was a moving experience. She has an almost instrumental control of her voice and is able to color and shape phrases with emotional restraint and intellectual understanding.” What a mom, what a friend, what a musician. She is singing with the angels.
A memorial service will be held at L19 Community Church located at 1900 L Street in Sacramento, Calif., this Sunday, June 23, from 12 to 3 p.m. In lieu of flowers Rilla would have loved a donation be given to L19 Community Church in her name. Your gift can be mailed to 6101 8th Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95820, or donate online at L19community.com and click on the “giving” tab.