August 4, 2015 | 8 a.m.
By Suzanne McInroy, Director of Communications
Conductor-in-residence and conductor of the Bethel University Orchestra Lynda Bradley-Vacco passed away on August 2 after a battle with breast cancer.
Bradley-Vacco started at Bethel in 1995. She conducted the Bethel University Orchestra, taught private violin and viola lessons and string pedagogy, conducted chamber ensembles, and served as an instructor in the general education curriculum for the music department.
“I can safely say that in the past 20 years Lynda Bradley-Vacco has had more singular influence on the music department than any other person,” says Dennis Port, who recently retired as the director of choral activities at Bethel University. Port was department chair when Bradley-Vacco started at Bethel in 1995. She was a graduate student at the University of Minnesota, where she went on to receive a Master of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts.
“Within a year she had developed a fledgling orchestra, within five years there was a well-balanced chamber orchestra, within ten years a touring ensemble, and in recent years a Symphonic Orchestra,” explains Port. “The orchestra has gone from being non-existent to being a major force in Festival of Christmas and a touring ensemble. That is all due to Lynda’s remarkable faith, unbounded enthusiasm, and tireless work. She leaves a huge void and will be missed greatly.”
Bradley-Vacco frequently served as a clinician and adjudicator throughout Minnesota and participated as a violist in numerous Twin Cities performing ensembles, most notably VocalEssence, Minnesota Dance Theater, Minnesota Chorale, Minnesota Sinfonia, and Minnesota Opera.
“Lynda was passionate—about her family, faith, students, and her teaching,” says Jon Veenker, professor of music and chair of the music department. “As a musician, she was first a superb solo performer who quickly fell in love with studio teaching. She loved coaching chamber music, which got her to Bethel. She began as a reluctant conductor, but soon the passion took over there as well. She gave so much to Bethel. She will be greatly missed, but her contributions will continue to be felt for a long time.”
Bradley-Vacco was first diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring of 2011. She went through chemotherapy and surgery, and was on a medical leave of absence for the fall 2012 semester. This past winter, she discovered her cancer had returned. She was unable to travel with the orchestra during their Spring Break tour, but she was able to conduct the home concert at the end of March and finish the academic year.
Barrett Fisher, dean of arts and humanities for the College of Arts & Sciences, has known Bradley-Vacco for the past 10 years and has admired her faith through her cancer diagnosis and treatment.
“Whenever Lynda posted her newsy updates about her cancer treatment, she invariably signed off with ‘God is good, all the time,’” Fisher says. “I appreciated the fact that she could be both transparent about her struggles and honest about her faith in the midst of those challenges. In addition to the sadness I feel at her loss, I also feel inspired by her courage and trust in God.”
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on August 6 at 1 p.m. with visitation one hour before at the Church of the Epiphany in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. Read a complete obituary in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.