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In Memoriam: Dan N. Pressley

Photo courtesy of the University of Delaware Archives and Records Management

Campus community remembers former associate professor of music who performed throughout the US, Europe

Dan N. Pressley, a noted performer and former member of the music faculty at the University of Delaware, passed away Feb. 24, 2024, in Wilmington, Delaware. He was 93.

He served as associate professor of music at UD from 1977 until his retirement in 1994. In addition to teaching, he served as director of opera productions at UD.

Dan N. Pressley in a 1977 photograph

During his career, Professor Pressley sang many lead opera and oratorio roles, performing with the Detroit Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Atlanta, St. Louis and Delaware Symphony Orchestras, among others. With his wife, pianist Nancy Gamble Pressley, he performed in much of the U.S. and in Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Austria, France and Italy.

Born in Gastonia, North Carolina, he began singing in high school. He studied at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and later earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in singing and opera from the University of Michigan, where he was a featured soloist with the Glee Club during its first European tour in 1955.

In the late 1950s, Professor Pressley worked in New York City and then as an opener in Las Vegas, and in 1959 he sang on tour with bandleader Fred Waring and The Pennsylvanians. In the 1960s he taught voice at Hillsdale College, conducted and taught voice at Midwestern University in Wichita Falls, Texas, and then at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois, where he led the music department’s chorus on a European tour.

In 1977, the Pressleys performed in concert at Carnegie Hall, and in 1978 they performed at England’s Aldeburgh Festival, where they studied Benjamin Britten’s works with singer Peter Pears.

The Pressleys ran a private voice studio for decades, lasting into the 2010s. Singers from the Pressley family studio have had international concert and opera careers.

Professor Pressey also sang with and directed church music groups for much of his life, in later years working closely at Wilmington’s Concord Presbyterian Church.

Professor Pressley is survived by his wife of 63 years, Nancy, along with children Karen, Nelson, Christopher and Matthew, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

To read his complete obituary, visit Chandler Funeral Home.

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