Amy S. Antonelli, pianist, singer, accompanist and educator, dies at 72


Amy S. Antonelli with conductors Robert Shafer (left) and Mstislav Rostropovich. Dr. Antonelli was board president of the Oratorio Society of Washington for 18 years and a music professor and assistant dean at Catholic University. (Photo by Morris Antonelli)
March 26

Amy S. Antonelli, a pianist, singer and accompanist who was board president of the Oratorio Society of Washington for 18 years and a music professor and assistant dean at Catholic University, died March 23 at her home in Kensington, Md. She was 72.

The cause was liver cancer, said her husband, Dr. Morris Antonelli.

As a rehearsal accompanist for more than 40 years with the Oratorio Society, now called the Washington Chorus, Dr. Antonelli worked with such conductors as Leonard Bernstein, Mstislav Rostropovich, Neville Marriner, Leonard Slatkin, Seiji Ozawa and Sarah Caldwell.

In 1984, she served as Bernstein’s accompanist for rehearsing the soloists — including Jessye Norman and Barbara Hendricks — before their performance of Mahler’s Second Symphony at the Washington National Cathedral, with a group called Musicians Against Nuclear Arms.

Dr. Antonelli also served as rehearsal accompanist for the Oratorio Society’s 1995 Kennedy Center production of the Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem,” the CD recording of which won a best choral album Grammy in 2000 under conductor Robert Shafer. She concluded her accompanying career with Shafer’s City Choir of Washington.

Amy Rachel Solit was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on April 23, 1941. She studied music for three years at New York University before leaving to marry. She completed her degree, in 1962, from what is now the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, Tex., and received a master’s degree in music from the University of Texas at Austin in 1964.

She soon settled in suburban Maryland and joined the Oratorio Society as an alto chorister in 1965, later becoming board president.

She taught music theory at Washington’s Trinity College and at Catholic University in the 1970s. In 1985, she received a doctorate in music from Catholic, where she became assistant dean for undergraduate studies. She remained in the position until her death.

She was associate artistic director and board secretary of the Defiant Requiem Foundation, which promotes a concert series and a critically acclaimed documentary called “Defiant Requiem: Verdi at Terezín” about the Jewish prisoner choir at a Czech-based concentration camp during the Holocaust.

Besides her husband of 52 years, of Kensington, survivors include two children, David Antonelli and Erica Antonelli, both of Chevy Chase; a brother, James Solit of Washington; and four grandchildren.

— Adam Bernstein