Marion Gail van der Loo

August 14, 1947September 6, 2020

SPRINGFIELD, IL - Marion G. van der Loo, 73, died from complications of a brain aneurysm at 12:30 a.m. Sunday, September 6, 2020, at Memorial Medical Center.

Marion was born August 14, 1947, in Bridgeton, New Jersey, to Paul Willem van der Loo and Christine Boice van der Loo. Her parents, who met as singers in a church duet, filled the family home with music. Marion sang in her Methodist minister father’s churches from the time she was able to talk, and she believed when they listened together to a recording of Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” that it was the most beautiful music she had ever heard.

While she grew up to have a career in journalism, Marion also sang professionally with The Philadelphia Singers under the direction of Michael Korn, and left her corporate job to accept a full scholarship at Temple University, where she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Opera Performance. After singing opera roles for four years she found choral music gave her greater joy, and was hired to sing with choruses and orchestras at venues including the Kennedy Center and the Academy of Music, and with conductors including Riccardo Muti and Georg Solti.

Drawn to the challenge of conducting, Marion earned a Master’s degree in Choral Conducting from Temple University. She conducted and directed numerous choruses on the east coast and in Chicago before studying for two years in the Doctoral conducting program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She then was offered the dual position of Music Director of the First Presbyterian Church in Springfield, which she held for 10 years, and the Illinois Symphony Chorus, which she held for 12 years. She was an adjunct assistant professor of voice at Millikin University for ten years and founder and director of the Prairieland Voices ensemble.

For 14 years, until her retirement, Marion was music director of the Springfield Choral Society, enlivening rehearsals with her keen sense of humor while challenging singers to learn and master complex works, including Bach’s “Mass in b minor” and Rachmaninoff’s “All Night Vigil,” in languages including Russian, Czech, French, Italian, German, Chinese, Spanish, and Latin. She continued to write, publishing a book of poems, some of which were set to music and performed by the Choral Society. She directed the Choral Society with orchestra in performances of Handel’s “Messiah” which became a Springfield holiday tradition. She led choir members on concert tours of Scotland and England, Spain, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, and France, where she was thrilled to conduct the singers in the entire Sunday morning Mass at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, a high honor reflecting the caliber of the community chorus she had shaped.

Marion felt strongly and cared deeply about music and its power to move and unite, about the musicians she cajoled and challenged to create it, and about those who suffered hardship or loss. She gave her best and inspired others to give theirs. She was generous with her knowledge and talent, and grateful for the opportunity to share them.

Marion is survived by her wife Alice Edwards, step-mother Audrey Smith van der Loo of Egg Harbor Township, NJ, sisters Kathy Sheetz (Timothy) of Akron, PA, Constance Yost (James) of Upper Deerfield, NJ, cousin Suzanne Koller (Dennis) of Shiloh, NJ, nieces Sandra Sheetz Wyllie, Lori Sheetz Herson, Heidi Yost Sray, and nephew Paul Yost.

Memorials may be made to Food for the Poor, Heifer International, Doctors Without Borders, the Springfield Choral Society, the Central Illinois Foodbank, and the Illinois Innocence Project. Bisch Funeral Home is handling arrangements. Please see for details regarding the memorial service to take place at a later date.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Marion Gail van der Loo

have a memory or condolence to add?

Timothy Martin

October 26, 2020

I sang for many years with Marion in Philadelphia, both in the Philadelphia Singers and at St Paul's Church, where she was alto soloist for a number of years. Among my many fond memories is Marion's hilarious dramatic reading of "The Road Not Taken," showing that she could be a card as well as a fine performer. I also remember a heartfelt but understated performance of "Beautiful Dreamer," sung at a benefit arranged by Michael Korn. So much talent, so much fun.

Jim Kirk

October 23, 2020

Many years ago, (1960's) Marion and I were music soul mates. We both sang for Earl Ness in his Philadelphia Oratorio Choir. We did many gigs together. While she was doing her Master's work at Temple, I hired her as a temp for two summers at the company for which I was General Manager. We had lunch together almost every day. I used a company truck to help her move once. I could go on and on about our many experiences together, but it would consist of a very large tome. Her passing is a great loss both to the world of music and, the human race. While I have not seen her for many years, she has been constantly in my thoughts. Now, that she is gone, there is an unfillable void in my life. She was the greatest and truest friend.

Denise Kerhlikar

September 28, 2020

Marion was one of the most talented musicians I ever met. A wonderful, compassionate and very funny woman. Prayers for her wife Alice. I will miss the Christmas poem she wrote every year. Thank you for so many great memories singing in your choirs!

Janet Schmidt

September 27, 2020

Marion was a great inspiration to me. She was the consummate teacher, conductor and friend. Many opportunities to sing, travel and experience incredibly beautiful music were afforded to me and many others.
Sympathy to Alice.

Katie Spindell

September 22, 2020


Always treasure Marion's incredible talent and contribution to this world of ours and never forget, that she loved you.


Holly Novak

September 21, 2020

Marion gave my daughter voice lessons in her home. My daughter has special needs, Marion was so kind to her. I remember many happy times with her.
My deepest sympathy to Alice.
Holly Novak

Jennifer Flack

September 21, 2020

Rest In Peace Marion. I am eternally grateful to you and Alice. Jennifer


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