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Opera singer remembered for talent and generosity

Marian Hawke. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

ELISA VORSTER

[email protected]

A popular school teacher who dedicated her life to music, performance and encouraging others has been remembered for her outstanding talent and generosity to others.

Marian Hawke, who died last week after a short battle with cancer at age 49, was farewelled on Monday at St Matthew’s church in Masterton — the same church where she first sang in public at age 11.

It was also the church where she married husband, Carlos Slater, in 2005.

Marian’s talent shone through at just 18 months old when she sang the Lord’s Prayer in perfect pitch to her mother, Helen.

She attended Masterton Intermediate School where music teacher, Barbara Anderson, took her under her wing and nurtured her talent through the choirs at the school and St Matthew’s church.

At Wairarapa College, her talent flourished through her performances in several major college musical productions under the guidance of drama and music teacher, Marilyn Bouzaid.

The year of 1998 was a major one for Marian — she began her professional role as a vocal tutor, became one of the lead sopranos in New Zealand Opera chorus, and started working at Queen Margaret College, a job she continued to love until shortly before her death.

Her sister, Gillian, described her sister as “vivacious”, saying she was the best “Aunty Mimi” who openly shared her talent with all her nieces.

A favourite memory was the year Marian was down by the creek behind a family property singing her most-loved Christmas hymn, ‘O Holy Night’, at the top of her lungs.

Her niece ran in the house saying, “That’s Aunty Mimi — she’s got her speakers on”.

Her ‘love language’ to her family was food, something her husband said was a huge part of their lives together.

“We could spend hours in Moore Wilson’s looking at ingredients and she would cook these amazing meals.”

The couple met online in 2001 and the two movie buffs instantly connected over their shared passion for music and movies.

“She noticed me because I wrote on my profile that I worked at Weta workshop on Lord of the Rings” Carlos said.

Not long after, the pair got two cats named Merry and Pippin – named after the hobbits.

“On our second date went to see Moulin Rouge which became our film — it became a favourite of hers.”

Marian was generous with her talent, sharing it with all her students in the same way her teachers had with her.

“She wasn’t just a singing teacher in a school — she had students who loved her and continued to be her friends,” Carlos said.

Her mother said music and performance was a huge part of her daughter’s life and she was always looking at how she could encourage her pupils’ opportunities to extend their experiences.

Marian had kept performing, even on the day she found out she had cancer.

“She left the hospital at 2pm and at 4.30pm she was putting on her makeup for her performance of ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ that night.

“She was just determined not to let anyone down,” Helen said.

Marian continued teaching throughout chemotherapy treatment and worked right up until the end “with courage”.

Besides her husband, Marian leaves behind her mother, Helen, siblings Gillian and Jonathan and five nieces — Abigail, Anahera, Evelyn, Lilah and Connor. Her father, Nigel, died in 2015 and a brother, Geoffrey, died a few years earlier.

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. I remember Marian as the strongest and most beautiful voice at youth group. She was a good friend to me then. Although we lost touch a long time ago my thoughts are with her family.

  2. Marian was a much loved friend who shared her love of music with me twenty years ago when she attempted to teach even me to sing. Her talent was not limited to music; Marian was the go-to person for all family computer tech problems. She was such a lively, vital person it is hard to realise that she has gone. The echoes of her outstanding voice will echo on.

  3. I remember Marian so fondly from the days she sometimes collected Lilah from daycare. A beautiful woman inside and out. Much love.

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