Tamara Brooks, choral conductor, wife of Theodore Bikel

Thursday, May 24, 2012 | by

Tamara Brooks, a noted choral conductor and the wife and musical partner of singer-actor Theodore Bikel, has died.

Brooks, a Juilliard-trained pianist and conductor, suffered a heart attack on May 19. She was 70.

She had a distinguished career as a conductor and educator who performed around the world.

The director of choral activities at the New England Conservatory from 1982 to 2000, she also served as president and head of the orchestral program of Philadelphia’s New School of Music. Brooks founded and was music director of Sequenza, a professional instrumental ensemble devoted to contemporary music.

Brooks and Bikel met when they worked on two shows about Jewish music for PBS in 1999 and 2000, according to the conservatory website. Brooks became Bikel’s professional as well as life partner, accompanying him on piano in frequent concert tours in the U.S. and overseas.

The couple married in 2008, and a year later they celebrated Bikel’s 85th birthday with a gala concert at Carnegie Hall featuring other top artists from the folk and Jewish music worlds. — jta