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Carmen Leo Cavallaro

June 12, 1947 April 28, 2021
Carmen Leo Cavallaro
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Obituary for Carmen Leo Cavallaro

Carmen Leo Cavallaro passed away peacefully on April 28, 2021 at Henry Ford Hospice in Detroit Michigan. He was born in Detroit Michigan on June 12, 1947 in the back seat of the family car. Carmen was preceded in death by his parents Albert P and Esther (Messer) Cavallaro and his sister Lona (Reed). He is survived by his sister Sandra (James) Hardiman, his brother and sister-in-law Albert P and Debra (Turner) Cavallaro, as well as by many nieces and nephews and his beloved French Bulldog and faithful companion Navarro.

Carmen’s paternal grandparents were immigrants from Italy, a heritage of which he was very proud and which inspired his extensive genealogical research, and his many trips to Italy, as well as his love of cooking and of all things Italian. He received dual citizenship to Italy and became proficient in the language. In addition to Italian, he also spoke proficient Spanish and had a strong interest in Mexico and Mexican Culture.

Carmen graduated from Walled Lake Central High School and received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music from Wayne State University. At Wayne State he was a proud member of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Fraternity.

Carmen’s first love was music, particularly the early instrumental and vocal music of the Renaissance and Baroque. His proclivity for music was noticed early by his parents who started his piano lessons at age 5. His love for the instrument was lifelong. He was accompanist for eminent vocal coach Avery Crew, and many chorale groups including the Fort Street Chorale. His career with the Detroit Public School System began as an accompanist and continued with them as a teacher and conductor, completing his career with the prestigious Detroit School of the Arts.

In addition to his pianistic skills, Carmen was an accomplished singer. He sang with many groups in the Greater Metropolitan Detroit and Windsor areas both as tenor soloist and as a professional chorale musician. His church affiliations included Christ Church Cranbrook and Bushnell Congregational, among others. He performed locally with groups such as the Jongleurs, Ars Musica Baroque Orchestra, and the American Baroque Ensemble. He was the conductor of the Grail Singers of Ann Arbor for many years. He also performed with such nationally eminent groups as the Texas Bach Choir, the Desert Chorale and Conspirare.

Carmen was also a highly skilled arranger and composer. His works especially show his deep love of Italian and Spanish culture and of early music.
His works include “La Mia Sera” and “Wild Dream” performed by Sounding Light, and “El Grita” performed by Conspirare. A memorial service will be held for Carmen next year and will include the world premiere of his last work, “How Music Came to Earth”.

His remains will be interred with his paternal grandparents at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Southfield, Michigan.

Carmen was a beloved son, brother and friend. He was a world class musician of incredible talent and amazing versatility. But most of all he was a loving man with an easy, comfortable warmth and an infectious humor. He will be greatly missed.


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