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John Weber, tenor

Classical (Music Genre)ArtistsMusicMusic Industry

John Weber, a tenor who sang in opera productions and was the music director of a Rodgers Forge church, died of an apparent heart attack Jan. 17. The Catonsville resident was 50.

His brother, Thomas Proveaux, said Mr. Weber collapsed at the wheel of his car while driving on West Forest Park Avenue. He was taken to Sinai Hospital, where his death was confirmed.

Born in Baltimore, he was the son of John Borst Weber, a Baltimore County police officer, and Eileen O'Sullivan Weber, a Western Electric worker and homemaker. He grew up in Middlesex in Baltimore County and was a 1981 graduate of Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School.

"He sang the role of Tony in 'West Side Story.' Everyone's mouth dropped open when he started to sing," said his brother, who lives in Towson. "He had perfect pitch. He was a natural."

His brother recalled introducing Mr. Weber to classical music performances.

"When he was 11, on his birthday I took him to a performance of 'Carmen' at Goucher College. He soon became an opera scholar and immersed himself in that world," Mr. Proveaux said.

Mr. Weber attended Towson State University, where he studied with Phyllis Frankel, but left school to perform.

"John and I met singing on the stage of Gilman School at a summer production of 'Iolanthe' in 1983. We became wonderful friends," said James Harp, artistic director of Lyric Opera Baltimore. "He was a lyric tenor with a large voice. There was also something of an Irish lilt to it."

Mr. Harp recalled that his friend had an "encyclopedic" knowledge of opera and music.

"He loved solving crossword puzzles and playing along with 'Jeopardy,'" Mr. Harp said. "He was one of the most ebullient people I have ever known. When working, he totally gave of himself."

Mr. Weber also worked in educational outreach and gave workshops and seminars for Baltimore schools. He managed the classical music department of the old Record Masters shop in the Rotunda in North Baltimore.

He won a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Awards Competition as a Towson student and sang a program of opera and oratorio arias at the Joseph Meyerhoff Hall in 1985.

He made his debut at the Lyric with the Baltimore Opera Company in 1988 in "La Traviata." He went on to appear many more times with the company.

He also sang with Concert Artists of Baltimore, the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, the Handel Choir and Opera Vivente, where he appeared in "Amahl and the Night Visitors." Baltimore Sun music critic Tim Smith said of that 2006 performance, "John Weber caught the sweetness of Kaspar with deft acting and dynamic singing."

Edward Polochick, artistic director of Concert Artists of Baltimore, recalled meeting Mr. Weber as a tenor with the former Baltimore Symphony Chorus many years ago.

"His death is one of the great losses to this community," said Mr. Polochick, a Baltimore resident. "He had an uncanny sense of repertoire. He championed unusual pieces. In many ways, he was a unique musician."

In 1995, Mr. Weber made his debut with the Washington Opera in Richard Strauss' "Der Rosenkavalier" and most recently appeared in the chorus of "Tristan und Isolde." He appeared opposite the Washington Opera's former artistic director, Placido Domingo, in "Parsifal" and "The Queen of Spades."

He also sang in composer Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari's "Sly," opposite José Carreras and Sherrill Milnes in a Washington Opera tour of Japan. He performed in Leos Janacek's "Cunning Little Vixen" at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy, in 1998.

According to his resume, Mr. Weber also sang with the Erie Philharmonic and the Lancaster Symphony. He sang with the Lyric Opera of Cleveland, Sarasota Opera, Delaware Opera, Miami Opera, Washington Summer Opera, and the Annapolis Opera companies.

Mr. Weber was a panelist on a Saturday afternoon radio program, WBJC's "Face the Music."

"He had tremendous expertise in recordings. He also had excellent taste, and he was witty. After spending years in music, he never became jaded," said the radio program's host, Jonathan Palevsky.

In 2007, Mr. Weber became director of music and liturgy at St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church in Rodgers Forge.

"He was an inspiring musician," said Carol Pacione, the parish's pastoral life director. "He had a sense of what the occasion called for and made the music fit that occasion. John was also not a diva. He was part of our team. He would answer the door for someone, and he treated the parishioners with the utmost care. He had a way of making people feel at ease."

A Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Pius Church, 6428 York Road.

In addition to his brother, survivors include two other brothers, Michael Proveaux of Glen Rock, Pa., and Larry Proveaux of Florida; and nieces and nephews.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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