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Grace Refined
Soprano Pamela Coburn

by Melissa Ramb


In May of 2001, I was in Philadelphia, planning to attend a performance at the Academy of Music featuring Renée Fleming singing Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs. I had never seen Fleming in concert, so I was looking forward to the performance—and was disappointed when I received notice that she had cancelled due to illness. Soprano Pamela Coburn was tapped to fill in for the ailing soprano and, in the words of one critic, Coburn’s brilliance, “made us all forget about the absence of Fleming. Pamela Coburn has a quiet and gentle conception of these very moving songs … her performance was one of intense sobriety and dignity, as befits the solemnity of the work.”

What I recall from that afternoon was the intimacy of Coburn’s performance, how her use of pianissimo, her quiet refinement, her command of the stage, and her impeccable sense of pitch brought me to the edge of my seat.

Before that afternoon, I was unaware of this brilliant artist and her incredible international car...

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