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International
Opera Studio
of Dallas, Inc.

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The Cold War Soprano
Memoirs of a Singer-Spy
The Biography of
Sheila Jones Harms

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In Memoriam
Sheila Jones Harms
May 29, 1931
December 12, 2004

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The International Opera Studio of Dallas, Inc., is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit, affirmative action training program for talented artists.

International Opera Studio of Dallas

Sheila Jones Harms passed away on December 12, 2004.
This website is being maintained in her memory.

Sheila Jones Harms strongly believes in helping promising future opera singers and musicians to achieve their career goals. With this in mind, she and her husband, Werner Harms, formed the International Opera Studio of Dallas. Many of her students are now performing in major opera houses in the United States and Europe and have won prestigious awards such as the Metropolitan  Opera Regional Competition and the MacAllister and Sullivan Awards.

Sheila Harms specializes in the vocal interpretation of Lieder, Oratorio, and Opera, combining this with her musicianship at the piano. Originally a native of England, Sheila attended the Royal College of Music in London, where she majored in both piano and voice, studying under Dr. Arnold Smith and Dr. Thomas P. Fielden. Dr. Smith had won acclaim as the accompanist for Manuel Garcia, the inventor of the laryngoscope, and teacher of Jenny Lind, Mathilde Marchesi and Julius Stockhausen, among others, while Dr. Fielden had studied with Claude Debussy.

Upon graduating from the Royal College of Music, Sheila won the Dame Clara Butt Award, for being the best soprano of her year. This award took her to Austria, where she attended the Vienna Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, receiving her Performer’s Diplomas in Lieder, Oratorio, and Opera. Sheila won practically every scholarship Great Britain had to offer, including a Sir James Caird Scholarship for three years in succession.

Sheila also taught in four languages at the Mozarteum Summer Academy in Salzburg, made recordings, broadcast many times on Austrian radio and television, and won acclaim as a Lieder and Opera singer in Austria, Germany, the United States, and Canada. Among her many operatic roles was that of Konstanze in Mozart's "Die Entfiihrung aus dem Serail" which she sang over 40 times.

In the United States, Sheila was leading soprano soloist for the University of Chicago's Rockefeller Chapel Choir, and concurrently taught voice and headed the Voice Department at the Music Center of the North Shore in Chicago.

Before going to Vienna, Austria, Werner Harms, who is also a singer, studied at the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. The Harms were invited to assist with the summer program of the American Institute of Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria, providing opportunities and contacts for American opera singers in Europe.

They moved from Chicago to Dallas in 1979 to help oversee the American operations of AIMS. Sheila and Werner founded the International Opera Studio of Dallas (IOSD) in 1984. Each year, the Harms organize and perform in many concerts in the Dallas area, including performances for the Wagner Society of Dallas.

In a letter to Sheila, Maestro Nicola Rescigno, former artistic director of the Dallas Opera, wrote:

"It was so nice to hear you on this side of the piano Saturday. You brought great musicality and sensitivity to everything you sang. I feel sure that if you can impart even a small amount of what you showed to your students, they are in very capable hands. I know how conscientious you are with your pupils in their preparation, and all I can say is that I wish there were more like you."

Sheila Jones Harms often accepted university and music school engagements, in which she explained her theories about vocal interpretation and accompanying, and provided teaching demonstrations.

 


 

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