Jean Maxon Carpenter, 59, of Wakefield, RI, passed away unexpectedly on Feb. 23, 2021.
She was born on May 1, 1961, in Oswego, New York, to the late Fred and Grace (Ziel) Maxon. Jean is survived by her husband Daniel P. Carpenter, four siblings and their families and her in-law families, and her large community of students, collaborators, and friends. Celebrations of Jean’s life are being planned for this summer in Rhode Island and Oswego.
Jean was well known for her career as a musician and music educator. She was a piano and voice instructor, collaborative pianist, composer, and music director.
She came to Rhode Island in 2006, after maintaining her own piano and voice studio in Oswego for more than 22 years. During this time, Jean also taught music at Mexico High School and Trinity Catholic School. In Central New York, she was the pianist for the Lakeside Piano Trio, the SUNY Oswego College-Community Chorus, the Oswego County Children’s Chorus, the Oswego Bach Chorale, and the semi-professional singing group, VOCE. In addition, Jean worked as a freelance pianist and accompanist for many classical chamber music concert series, including The Society for New Music, Civic Morning Musicals at the Everson Museum, and the Lions Club Concerts for Sight, and she played organ at several area churches.
Once in Rhode Island, she became a piano and voice instructor with More than Music in North Kingstown. Jean managed youth orchestras for the Rhode Island Philharmonic, taught at Lincoln School in Providence, and worked as a piano instructor at the University of Rhode Island. She organized solo festivals and evaluation festivals, and served as chair for the regional National Piano Playing Auditions for National Piano Guild.
Jean was artistic director and accompanist with the South County Chamber Singers. Their concerts “For the Beauty of the Earth” and “A Grateful Heart” included her original compositions “Mountain Morning” and “A Grateful Heart”. She directed “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and other concerts such as “All Things Irish” and “A Millennium of Requiems”.
With Contemporary Theater Company, she music directed numerous shows most notably “Sweeney Todd” for which she was honored as Best Musical Director in 2016 by Motif Magazine. She also music directed this show in 2009 with Courthouse Center for the Arts and in 2012 with the Pawtucket Community Players. Other projects with Contemporary Theater included Springboard Season “When Nature Calls”, “Bravo! An Improvised Musical”, “Fantasticks”, “Little Shop of Horrors”, “A Christmas Carol” twice, and “Peter and the Starcatcher”. She music directed “Music Man” with Jamestown Community Theater.
She music directed “Candide” at Contemporary Theater as part of the area-wide “Leonard Bernstein Centenary Celebration” she initiated and produced. At Trinity Repertory in Providence, she was accompanist for the original musical “The Family” by Enrico Garzilli. At URI, she music directed “A Brief History of the Earth and Everything in it”. She also did an independent production of “The Last Five Years” and was part of “Fame” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” at Courthouse Center for the Arts, and “42nd Street” at North Kingstown High School.
Recordings of her work are being collected on the “Jean Maxon Carpenter” playlist on YouTube.
Jean received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education and Piano from the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, NY, and a Master of Music in Music Education and Voice from Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, VA. Her early education in Oswego was at St. Mary’s School, Oswego Middle School and Oswego High School.
She was a member of the National Association for Music Education (MENC), and its state chapters RIMEA and NYSSMA, the American College of Musicians - National Piano Guild, the American Choral Directors Association, and the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) and its state chapter, RINATS.
Jean is survived by her husband of 14 years, Daniel P. Carpenter, and her siblings and their families: Mary (Bradley) Grainger, Fred (Rosanne) Maxon, Joseph Maxon, and Robert (Jacqui) Maxon; eight nieces and one nephew; and three grand-nieces and two grand-nephews. In addition, she was beloved by Dan’s family including his father Kenneth P. Carpenter, and siblings Timothy (Elizabeth), Kevin (Margie), Michael (Pam), Christopher, Julie (Michael) Cahill, and Matthew (Patrise); and ten nieces and nephews, and one grand-nephew.
Gifts in her memory are requested in lieu of flowers to Contemporary Theater Company and South County Chamber Singers.
As one of her collaborators has shared: “Jean was a great musician, a great director, and a great teacher. Above all, she was a generous, loving, and playful soul. A loyal friend. A relentless believer in music, theater, and our community. She gave her time and her passion fully, and lifted everyone around her.
She was fearless in her projects, taking risks and taking leaps because she endlessly saw the best in everyone around her, and knew that we could get anywhere, to any height, together. She provided the platform people needed to discover the most within themselves.”
Jean will be missed dearly by all who knew her, by all who experienced her talents, and by all who were touched by her unselfish love and caring spirit.