Remembering Russell Patterson

UMKC alumnus founded Lyric Opera

Russell Patterson, a UMKC alumnus and founder and longtime artistic director of the Lyric Opera of Kansas City, has died. He was 85.

Patterson, a Mississippi native, spent most of his professional life in Kansas City. In addition to his 40 years with the Lyric Opera, he played with the Kansas City Philharmonic from 1951-1959, and served as artistic director of the Kansas City Symphony from 1982-1986.

He earned a master’s degree in music in 1952 from what was then known as the Kansas City Conservatory of Music, before it merged with the University of Kansas City in 1959.  He served as an Assistant Professor of Music at the Conservatory from 1960-68.

He was named UMKC Alumnus of the Year in 1990. He served as a member of the music panel for the National Endowment for the Arts from 1970-72.

Patterson earned his bachelor’s degree from Southeast Louisiana University in 1950. He was named that school’s Alumnus of the Year in 1983.

After his 1998 retirement, Patterson lived in Cape Cod, Mass.

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