1931 – 2019
Our dearest friend Milla came into Mastersingers’ lives when I returned from an extended period of performing in the USA. Mastersingers had been launched in the UK in 1996 and we needed to find a strong outlet for our very strongly focussed ethic to work in tandem with the Wagner Society. By sheer coincidence I was adjudicating for the Wagner Society Bayreuth Bursary that year and Milla was also on the panel. I told her of my needs and immediately she advised me to contact Tony Legge and the Rehearsal Orchestra to inaugurate an annual event with the orchestra to promote our aspiring Wagner candidates. This is how easy she made life- changing decisions for us and thence for a myriad of singers, pianists and conductors. She further supported our cause with strong financial aid from the Peter Moores Foundation, of which she was a trustee. Notably, her organising and financing the preparation of Miriam Murphy and James Rutherford to travel to Seattle to win the first ever International Wagner Competition there will not be forgotten by those artists or by us. Milla’s coaching in languages and vocal studies was legendary and she gave her life over to the welfare of those who were lucky enough to be in her hands with integrity and love. We all had another “Mother” with an iron fist and warm heart. I am only five years her junior but I got treated just the same! So, dearest Milla, we honour and respect all that you have contributed to countless lives. Bless you.
I have known dearest Milla since 1971, when we worked on Adriana Lecouvreur for some Camden festival performances at the Collegiate Theatre in London. Since then I coached her on many roles and songs, including Russian gems such as Medtner, whom she championed. Her sense of humour and delight in music (even if she had a tradition of being late for her coachings!) were a constant support and inspiration for me over all these years. We sat on the jury many times for the Wagner Society Bursary and she always had a pertinent, kind positive comment to make to each young singer, and the lasting evidence is to be seen in the copies of Russian music that she gave them, with her transliterations and translations written in her own fair hand. The Mastersingers company and The Royal Academy of Music have both gained so much from her. Milla and her Russian husband were a wonderful pair, especially at their special Russian Easter celebrations at their home in Barnes – nothing was too serious! Her generosity to so many singers, financial and artistic, will always be remembered.
From the first time I walked into Milla’s studio, I was at home. I am honoured to have shared so many hours with her. Over the course of my years studying with her, she made me laugh, cry, sing with more passion and joy and marvel at the fact that anyone can learn to sing in Russian! In addition to being a beautiful singer and insightful coach, Milla was so kind and generous. She was always looking for ways to help young singers become better performers and to find opportunities for them in this tough business. She helped me in innumerable ways. She leaves a big hole in the world of opera and in my heart.
Milla was a wonderful person, and we will all be worse off for not having her around. The first time I went to see her for coaching was in my first year as a professional. I was penniless and clueless with little idea what my rep was, no idea how to put together a programme and I found myself in the Cardiff Singer of the World competition. At the end of that first session she offered to coach me regularly for free in the run up to the competition on condition that I didn’t tell anyone. She was an angel. I continued to check in with her for many years. Of course she was a wonderful coach, but I most valued her for her ability to see the bigger picture, and for telling the hard truths I needed to hear with such love, humour and directness, that maybe they weren’t so bad after all.
Milla was a dear friend, a cherished colleague and an inspirational teacher. I have so many wonderful memories of our special friendship. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
In my time being coached by Ludmilla I got to know her as a generous and very intelligent person. A person who not only had a superbly trained ear and knowledge of how to help young singers but also a person who had a sharp wit and made work fun and joy. Going to her home was always something I anticipated with great enthusiasm and after our sessions I always left inspired and energised. She will be greatly missed by all of us.
Ludmilla has been a wonderful support for our annual Wagner project with Mastersingers and the Rehearsal Orchestra from its beginnings in the early 2000s, and we know that is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of her influence on and support for young singers over many years. She will be much missed.
Having played for Ludmilla Andrew’s coachings for nearly a decade, I feel incredibly privileged to have known and worked with her closely. She was an extraordinary person, generous to a fault, with the most wonderful sense of humour, warmth and the biggest heart I have ever known. Over the years I’ve known her, she has helped so many people not just through her actions, but through her belief in the talent she saw in them. I was witness to so many careers from their early years through to stunning successes at ROH and the Met. All thanks to Milla’s unswerving faith in them, and spurring them on to achieve what they were truly capable of. Although the world is a poorer place without her, we can all be sure she lived life to the full and shared her tremendous energy and light with the world, dedicating her life after her own singing career ended to helping singers young and old fulfil their ambitions. Her contribution to the singing world cannot be understated and I feel so grateful to been at her side for so many years. She will be long remembered and cherished.
I first met Milla, as she was known to us all, when I was répétiteur for Maria de Rudenz with Opera Rara late in the 1970s. Like Milla’s age, the exact date has become vague. I saw immediately what an extraordinary artist she was, what a force of nature …and what a voice! No wonder her high C in Act 3 of Tosca was applauded so vociferously in Naples that the performances ground to a halt. As an assistant and coach I worked with her for several years. Then we saw each other less frequently though always with immense pleasure until later days, after she quit the stage, with Chandos Records where she oversaw the clarity of the text for the Opera in English series with her trademark tact and authority. She was a world-class diplomat, often having to negotiate delicately between the views of sponsor and conductor (me). Her diplomatic skills were evident as a trustee of Opera Rara, where she supported me unfailingly during the period when I took over the artistic directorship after the death of Patric Schmid. I realised what friendship meant to her: honesty, kindness and the deepest loyalty. These were qualities she showed in abundance advising and helping so many young singers in her latter-day role of teacher and coach: her influence will live on through them. Milla lived to a great age. She bore the infirmities of ageing with immense courage and her mind was brilliant to the end. She was a truly great human being.
Milla leaves a wonderful legacy to decades of Academy students as a true champion for all things Russian. We all benefited from her extraordinary energy and dedication – a real ‘can do’ approach aligned with patience, quiet authority, generosity and supreme warmth. Great teachers don’t grow on trees and Milla leaves a considerable void. She always offered the same expression of belonging and friendship…and always with that infectious smile. We will miss Milla a great deal.
Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Principal, RAM
Milla, how can I express your impact on my life? Always there with a hug, a smile and a cheeky story to tell. Whether we were in the middle of a coaching session or sitting over a cup of tea with toast and my jam that you loved so much, you would always see into the heart of me and love me for who I am and what I could offer the world. Your unending belief in me and your obvious love for Chloe became such a special part of our lives. We treasure you and all the memories we have. RIP dear friend.
I was a great friend of Milla’s for many years and was happy to become her last agent. After her distinguished career, she continued to teach and support young singers and various organisations, also using her great knowledge of Russian to coach in the Colleges and various companies. So she is still with us.
Milla’s contribution the artistic output of Opera Rara spans nearly its whole history. She brought to the company the essential experience of deep knowledge of the repertoire, but enhanced by her passion for the art of singing. Milla selflessly accompanied Opera Rara from its origins to its continuing championship today of the unjustly neglected masterpieces of opera. An artist herself, she regarded as part of her vocation to give back her experience for the development of the art form and its protagonists. Happily we will be able to remember her through her recordings for Opera Rara (notably Donizetti’s Gabriella di Vergy). But her real legacy is her contribution to the indelible output of the company, now over 100 recordings strong, which will, with luck, outlive us all.
Charles Alexander, Chairman of Opera Rara