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Arts / Culture

Conductor, Sarasota Classical Music Advocate Edward Alley Dies

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Ed Alley Facebook Page
Edward Alley

The Sarasota classical arts community has learned that conductor and musician Edward Alley has died.

The former manager of the New York Philharmonic and Associate Director of the Opera Center at The Juilliard School had moved to Sarasota about 20 years. He was 85.

Most recently, Alley was producer and host of the “Music Mondays” lecture series at the Sarasota Institute for Lifetime Learning. He took over that role in 2017 after the death of his wife, June LeBell, a longtime classical music advocate and host on Classical WSMR.

Alley also had been an active arts critic for the Observer Media Group, writing as recently as March about the winter season of the Sarasota Opera and Sarasota Orchestra. His reviews were honest, but also full of detail that reflected his own extensive experience in classical music.

According to Alley’s biography provided by SILLs, he became conductor of the 7th U.S. Army Symphony at the age of 22, leading more than 100 concerts across Western Europe.

His presence in the New York classical music community also was significant. He served as Executive Director of the Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund for Music, Manager of the New York Philharmonic, Associate Director of the Opera Center of The Juilliard School, and Director of the Exxon/Arts Endowment Conductors Program. He also judged numerous vocal competitions, including the Met Opera auditions.

Alley’s local work included involvement with groups such as the Sarasota Opera, the Choral Arts of Sarasota, the Arts Series Concerts of Sarasota and the Arts Alliance of Sarasota County.

Alley’s close friend Rita Mathsen announced his death on Facebook, saying that he died Sunday night. She said he had shared recently that he was dealing with COPD and a heart condition. According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, she met Alley when he was married to fellow opera singer Nancy Williams. Williams died in 2006.

“He was a very social person and loved everyone he met,” Mathsen said. “He will be greatly missed by many.”