Obituary: Music Director and Pianist Miah Im Passes Away at 47

By Logan Martell

On Sept. 30, 2021, Music Director and pianist Miah Im passed away due to cancer at the age of 47.

Born in Toronto, Canada, on Jan. 19, 1974, Im studied at the University of Michigan, where she received her undergraduate degree in piano performance and her master of music degree in collaborative piano and chamber music. During her career, she served as Music Director at Houston Grand Opera Studio, Professor of Opera at Rice University, and was a former Head of Music Staff at Los Angeles Opera. Im held positions with numerous organizations such as Lyric Opera of Chicago, New York City Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Ravinia Festival, the Baltimore Symphony, as well as University of Toronto Opera School, University of Maryland Opera Studio, and San Diego Opera Young Artists Ensemble.

Her passion for collaboration and artistic development saw her working through the pandemic to produce virtual performances and find new ways of improving the experience for online audiences. Her passing comes as a surprise for many who knew her, with her diagnosis of pancreatic cancer coming only this year. A number of people who worked with her have paid tribute and shared their experiences via social media.

“Miah exemplified everything the School hoped for in its director of opera studies,” said Robert Yekovich, former Shepherd School dean and the Elma Schneider Professor of Music. “She was a highly respected figure in the profession and a first-rate vocal coach and had an encyclopedic command of the repertoire, a unique vision for where the program needed to be focused and a humane and gentle spirit.  In slightly more than one year’s time, Miah’s impact on the opera program and Shepherd School was profound.”

“Our hearts are extremely heavy today as we mourn the loss of Miah Im,” writes LA Opera in a statement. “As our former Head of Music Staff and long term member of our artistic team, her light shined brilliantly beyond the music department, charming every one of us with her warmth, knowledge, and enthusiasm for and encouragement of her fellow artists. An incredible musician and leader within the company, she will be remembered not only for her contributions to our collective artistry, but for her enthralling humanity – her friendly greetings, bright smile, and the delicious baked goods she’d share just because. Miah will be dearly missed.”