back to contents


Alumni Spotlight:
Update from the Coade Sisters


Conservatory Home

Oberlin Online Home

Previous Issues

E-mail Us

Staff Box

Nancy and Caroline Coade, and Sarah Coade Mandell
From 1984-1991, at least one of three Coade sisters graced the Conservatory halls. During two of those years, all three were here together. In 1999, they still share their love of music, of teaching, of volunteering for the arts and of family. Here's what they wrote.

Violist Caroline Coade (BM '88), now of Birmingham, Michigan, joined the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in September 1996. Before coming to Detroit, Caroline was a substitute for the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra, and was principal viola with the Concerto Soloists Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia. She spent two summers at the Marlboro Music Festival and performed chamber music concerts as an artist-in-residence at Pennsylvania's Laurel Festival of the Arts in 1993. She served on the faculty of Temple University in Philadelphia from 1994-1996, where she taught viola and chamber music in the school's Music Preparatory Division. Caroline has served as an adjunct faculty member at Wayne State University since September 1998. Her music studies began with Suzuki violin lesson at age six; she switched to viola at age 14. Following graduation from Oberlin and her studies with Jeffrey Irvine, Caroline continued her education at The Juilliard School (MM '93) and the Curtis Institute of Music (AD '91).

She says of her time at Oberlin, "I am so proud to be part of the Oberlin family! My education at Oberlin helped prepare me for the challenging world of professional music. For me, going to a school with both a Conservatory and a College meant that I would not only become a well-trained musician but a well-rounded person too. I enjoyed the advantages of being in such a nurturing environment and a small town where I could focus on playing the viola, learning, making lifelong friendships and being with my sisters."

Nancy Coade (BM '91) is entering her fourth season with the Pacific Symphony. Based in Costa Mesa, California, she stays active in the music scenes of Los Angeles and Orange County. She has played associate concertmaster with Opera Pacific, the Mozart Camerata and the Pacific Chorale. She writes that she enjoys performing with the San Diego Symphony when time allows. Last summer, she returned to play first violin in the Utah Festival Opera Company of Logan, Utah. In addition to performing, Nancy is one of eight musicians from the Pacific Symphony chosen to teach in Class Act, the PSO's educational outreach program. She teaches a lesson of music appreciation in three elementary schools in Orange County, and as part of the program, will offer a series of chamber music concerts at those schools. Nancy began her musical studies at the age of five with Suzuki violin teacher Donna Christmas. At, Oberlin, Nancy studied with Marilyn McDonald. She completed graduate work at Juilliard where she studied with Sally Thomas.

Nancy writes, "For me, the seeds of creativity that Oberlin planted took many years to germinate. My violin teacher Marilyn McDonald remains a role model for me. A classy lady in all facets of life, she once told me in a difficult lesson, 'How will you know how far you can go if you don't give it a try?' Well, even in college I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a lifelong, professional violinist. Now, I'm sure. Very sure. Oberlin was filled with people who could be trusted for their passion. Their passion for art and life. I still use the memories of my five years there to inspire the goals I have now."

Sarah Coade Mandell (BM '87) is an active freelance bassist in Southern California. She has performed with the New West Symphony, William Hall Master Chorale, Pacific Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, Glendale Symphony, San Diego Symphony, San Diego Opera and as principal bass with the Culver City Chamber Orchestra, Bach Camerata, Los Angeles Mozart Orchestra and the Japan America Symphony Orchestra. Additionally, she has performed for the Television and Motion Picture recording industries. When not performing, Sarah volunteers her time to several charitable organizations. She is a trustee of the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation in San Francisco. She works with orchestras, chamber ensembles, music festivals and music schools, assisting them through the grant-making process. She is co-chair of the Alumni Program at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. Most recently, she joined the Oberlin Alumni Council's Conservatory Committee.

"I arrived in Oberlin a shy and naïve girl with very little experience outside of academics and cello" Sarah writes. "In fact, I had never seen snow before my first winter in town! I enjoyed my classes, especially cello with Richard Kapuscinski, chamber music with Marilyn McDonald, music history with Sylvan Suskin, U.S. Government with Jere Brunner, and Intro to Japanese History with Ron DiCenzo. However, it was the non-academic experiences that made Oberlin a truly memorable place for me. As I had no brothers, living in a co-ed environment was a new and interesting experience. In addition, at Oberlin I finally felt free to explore my interests in playing the bass (I am now a professional bassist), cooking (thanks to the co-ops), management (again, the co-ops) and volunteerism (Conservatory Board and Honor Committee). I credit my Oberlin experience in preparing me for my professional and private adult life."