Keith Abbott Conant, principal violist with the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra, died unexpectedly of a heart attack on Thursday at 49, the Lyric said.Conant was most recently heard with the Lyric Opera Orchestra during the “Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park” free concert September 10, when he played the viola solo in the Act-Two Romance from “The Tales of Hoffman.”
He served as Lyric Opera’s principal violist since the 1997-98 season. He joined the Lyric Opera Orchestra for the 1987-88 season as assistant principal violist.
“I am shocked and deeply saddened by the news of Keiths death,” said Sir Andrew Davis, Lyric’s music director. “He was a wonderful musician and colleague whose kind and gentle spirit shone through in the musical gift he shared with us all. As a section leader, he inspired by example. Because of the level of his commitment to the orchestra, and their commitment to him, he was able to deliver the very best his section had to offer in every performance. He will be greatly missed.”