Nancy "Nan" Nall

  • Born: November 3, 1944
  • Died: September 27, 2020
  • Location: Weston, Vermont

Ker Phaneuf Funeral Homes & Crematorium

57 High St
Brattleboro, VT 05301
Tel. (802) 254-5655

Tribute & Message From The Family

A beautiful Spirit transcended this world on September 27, 2020 when she passed away peacefully at the Springfield Hospital in Springfield, VT, with her devoted wife, Lise Messier, and a dear friend at her side.

Nan was born in 1944 in Prince William County, Virginia to Betty Thompson and Albert Nall. The eldest of four children she enjoyed a musical childhood where she began her early vocal career with her mother accompanying her at the piano. In South Bend, Indiana Nan attended Riley High School
and quickly rose to child star status singing leading roles in high school musical productions. From there she attended the famed Indiana School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana studying under Martha Lipton and Margaret Harshaw while performing with the select Chamber Singers, famously
known for their theatrical Madrigal Dinners. She graduated with a double Masters in Vocal Performance and Stage Direction.

In 1969 Nan's adventurous nature led her to accept a position in the Special Armed Forces Division which took her to Vietnam during the war. There she sang the role of "Louisa" in the musical "The Fantastiks", touring and performing for army bases throughout South Vietnam. It was during this time that she met and began her longtime collaboration with stage director, Barbara Owens. Together Nan and Barbara produced and directed an opera production of
Hansel and Gretel which they performed for the Vietnamese orphan children with a number of these children participating in the children's chorus. With Barbara at her side they lived and performed in Southeast Asia for two and a half years, singing many recitals for Chinese, Laotian, Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese audiences.

Nan went on to perform in Teheran, Bogota, Bombay, Auckland, and Salzburg gaining a reputation for her distinctive programming and pure radiant soprano singing. She was soprano soloist for the Marlboro Music Festival, the Winter Park Bach Festival, the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, the NYC Basically Bach Festival, the New England Bach Festival, the Masterwork and Dessoff Choruses; in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center with the St. Cecilia Chorus and Orchestra and with Musica Sacra. Of her debut recital at Carnegie Hall the New York Times wrote "…one of the more impressive vocal debuts heard in New York City". She also performed in Europe with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Concentus Musicus. In 1984 Nan was the recipient of a Solo Recitalist Grant
from the National Endowment of the Arts awarded "to recognize America's outstanding individual performing musicians". She combined her active singing career with teaching voice at Middlebury College, the Brattleboro Music School and privately at her Weston and Rutland studios.

Together with her new soprano partner, Lise Messier, their duo-soprano recital tours took them to New York City, Washington D.C., Boston, Chicago and throughout rural New England. In 1987 they formed the Brattleboro Opera Theatre presenting opera productions at the Latchis Theatre from 1988 – 1991.
With their move to Putney in 1990 Nan and Lise enjoyed their country life with their horses, gardening, traveling and the practice of Tai Ji with Cielle Tewksbury, while continuing their teaching.

Their collaborative partner, accompanist and coach Glenn Parker of Westminster Choir College, brought musical magic to southern Vermont with Glenn's incomparable vocal masterclasses featuring Nan and Lise's students. In 1996, as a tribute to Glenn's passing, an operatic production of "Dido and Aeneas" was presented in Gordon and Mary Hayward's reknowned outdoor garden featuring not only singing, but a drill team of horses from Brattleboro's Southmowing Stables performing in the adjacent field to the music of Purcell.

Their mission to introduce opera to children continued with their move to Weston in June, 1999, where they formed a new opera company "Opera Theatre of Weston" (OTW). From 2000 until 2015 they presented annual productions, primarily at the Weston Playhouse and at Rutland's Paramount Theatre,
including the Vermont premiere of "The Little Prince" and the East Coast premiere of "The Secret Garden".

Nan and Lise's vocal studios continued to prosper with numerous vocal student recitals, masterclasses and workshops. In 2008 Nan was diagnosed with MS. For 12 years she remained a spirited and musical force, inspiring and bringing her luminous joy and humor to all who crossed her path.

She leaves behind her beloved wife and caregiver, Lise Messier of Weston, her brothers Greg Nall of Greeley, Colorado and Robert Nall of Zionsville, Indiana, and her sister Carol Zimmerman of Tualatin, Oregon.

A memorial service and musical celebration of her extraordinary life will be held sometime in the next year.

Donations may be made to "My Community Nurse Project" at P.O. Box 57, Weston, VT 05161 and/or Londonderry Volunteer Rescue Squad at P.O. Box 91 Londonderry, VT 05148.

Condolence & Memory Journal

Such a wonderful person and extraordinary teacher. She'll be with me always.

Posted by Laura Chalfin - Hornby Island - Student   March 17, 2021


We are holding you in our Hearts as you grieve Nan.
We are always your neighbors.
Sending love,
Wren & Boe

Posted by Karen Gore - Neighbor   November 01, 2020


Nan was, and is, an inspiration. Being stricken with Multiple Sclerosis for decades didn't dim her creative drive, humor, or devotion to her students, family, and friends. Nan was blessed with having a loving and devoted wife in Lise who physically and spiritually led her through the labyrinth of the last years. Together they became a dynamic duo teaching voice and co-founding the Opera Theatre of Weston.

I knew Nan for 45 years as a voice teacher initially and dear friend eventually. I am a better person for her having been here. She is the incandescent flame that never blows out. I will miss you Nan.

Posted by Jody Rapport - Chapel Hill, NC - Friend   October 31, 2020

A bright, beautiful woman has left us. To her beloved Lise, family, and friends, my heart is with you in your loss.

Posted by Nancy Parent Santarella - Gunnison, CO - Student   October 20, 2020

Nan was a bright and beautiful force. Her generous light touched and elicited the very best out of all who knew her, including me. May Nan's memory be a blessing.

Posted by Bidi Dworkin - South Londonderry, VT - Student   October 17, 2020

Was so sad to hear of Nan's passing. I wouldn't have become the singer I became without Nan's vocal instruction and encouragement over the years. She helped me get my first professional gig, too, when I was a young bass at Middlebury college. She will always have a place in my heart.

Posted by Cliff Romig - Kensington, CA - Student   October 15, 2020

Dearest Lise. Dick at restand I mourn for you - you have lost a treasure, may Nanny's memory and love be a blessing to you . We loved her too.We pray that your soul be gentle By sweet memories. Carole and Dick

Posted by Caroleom Tannen - Hartford, CT - Friend   October 12, 2020


Dearest Lisey,
I hope you and Nanny knew how much I loved you, and how central you are (always "are") in my life. I have worked with many people in the music world, but never with anyone more musical or as great a soul as Nanny..

From the minute I came to Vermont to study with her and Barbara, I knew I had to keep them in my life. And then, when you and Nanny came together, and when Glenn and Jody joined the workshop, our family was complete. I wish there were words to really tell you what I feel...I am blessed that we met and shared music and love together. (Plus, you were a great roommate that first year:)

Lissey I know Nan will help move you to great heights. You will carry on the greatest legacy. May your heart lighten as you mourn.

With greatest love,
Jannie Papolos, Friend Norwalk, CT October 12, 2020

Posted by Janice Papolos - Norwalk,, CT - Family   October 12, 2020

My mentor and friend, Nan, lived her life true to her nature. She gave so much music to so many around the world through performance and education. My only regret is that I didn't know her earlier in her life - her adventures in SE Asia sound so exciting! Our condolences to Nan's family and her beloved Lise, from Annie, Tom, Jenna and Caitlin xoxo

Posted by Anne D'Olivo - Manchester Center, VT - Friend   October 10, 2020

My sympathies to Lise and the rest of Nan's family. May this great woman Rest In Peace.

Posted by Janet Gillespie - Cortlandt Manor, NY - Student   October 08, 2020

My thoughts and prayers are with you and Nan's family, Lise.

Posted by Lucy Davis - Friend   October 07, 2020


Lise, you and Nan continue to be in the center of our tai ji circle, and your love for each other and for the joy of singing radiates in our hearts and out into the wider world.

Posted by elizabeth christie - Putney, VT - Friend   October 07, 2020

Thank you Lise, for this lovely obituary. Nan was a beautiful soul, and her Aunt Lucille and I loved her dearly. I will never forget your warm hospitality to us on the occasions when we were able to visit you in Vermont and learn about your various musical endeavors, especially your operas featuring young people.

Posted by John Shahan - Claremont, CA - Family Friend   October 07, 2020

Such a beautiful person, and a full, well-lived life. It was an honor to know and work with her. May her memory be a blessing to all she touched. Deepest sympathies to Lise and to Nan's family.

Posted by Kristine Hurst-Wajszczuk - Fultondale, AL - Friend   October 07, 2020

Family Album

Community Photos

My beloved Nan on our wedding day July 3, 2011