James McCracken is described by the New York Times as “the most successful dramatic tenor yet produced by the United States and a pillar of the Metropolitan Opera during the 1960s and 1970s." He rated Imrie’s talent in a 1980s letter to her Park Avenue congregation from him and his wife, herself a Met mezzo: “For some time now my wife Sandra Warfield and I have wished to express how impressed we both are with your young soloist. We travel throughout the world and have attended Christian Science churches in most all places, but we have seldom enjoyed the soloist as much as at this church. How impressed we are with the delicate balance she finds between conveying the emotions of the music and her clear, precise diction.” – New York
Actress, mime, and teacher Pilar Garcia includes in her coaching portfolio ballerina Gelsey Kirkland, and Broadway’s Elephant Man stars Philip Anglim and David Bowie. “Margaret gives full measure. Worlds open in front of you, and welcome you in. Strong, supple, trained, with an excitement and beauty that fills every inch of any hall. You believe her; feel invigorated hearing her; want her to keep singing even after a full concert.” – New York
“I kept hearing about Margaret, I found out she had a marvelous voice; that she soloed, and that she sometimes substituted at The Mother Church. Plus, that she was a fine Reader.” – Susan Collins, CS – New York
Producer George Spitzer, winner of Grammy Awards for his work with the music of Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington, and others, followed Imrie’s career since 1976: “Her voice is notably clear as is the diction, so you can hear every word and understand the message. The sound is inspiring and raises your thought.” – New York
“Having Margaret come gently walking in while boldly booming into the church Purcell’s Blow Ye the Trumpet, with exquisitely melodious and precisely- landing notes, gave the ceremony a sublimely beautiful opening that hung in the air for the entire service.” – Laurie Dill, Los Angeles
She taught me how to find the song in every simple and complex situation. When I'm tempted to think I want more of her, I have to thank God for the abundance of treasures she left for the world to enjoy. – Shirley Paulson, CS, Chicago
“Margaret made everyone around her happier, more energetic, feeling better about themselves. She lights up every room, every conversation, every event. She still does.” – Paul Basile, NYC, NY
“What a voice! Exquisitely soulful. Yes, more please.” – Marilyn McPherson, Berkeley, CA
"Such a wonderful experience to be blessed by this amazing bright light of a woman through this recording. I hope you will consider purchasing this for your own enjoyment and inspiration if you appreciate a beautiful soprano voice and a heartfelt Christian message through sacred song.” — David Edelfelt, Chicago, IL
A lovely, kind, beautiful soul, very much missed. –Janet Slavin, Chicago, IL
"I'm amazed that you worked so hard to change your technique as I suggested, and were so successful so quickly. You moved me to tears!" -- Phyllis Curtin, Metropolitan Opera
“Awash with grace and beauty.” – Brad Knickerbocker, Ashland, OR
“Delighted to receive this news from Watchfire. Have such gratitude for Peggy's gifts of music and her love of God and her fellow man. Peggy also did wonders for NYC. Her music will continue to remind of her loving nature. So grateful to have her as a role model.” –Randee Martin, Derry, NH
“Beautiful Singing!” –Wally Wethe, Burke, VA
Margaret (known then as Peggy Bort) majored in music at Principia College, later earning her MM from New England Conservatory. After study at Tanglewood and New Haven with Met Soprano Phyllis Curtin, she lived for twenty-two years in Manhattan.
Her longest soloist run, begun after Reading, was at the twelve-hundred-seat CS branch nearest Lincoln Center, with no shortage of critics or competition. The organist there for twenty-three years now, Ron Berresford, recalls he was “always impressed with her impeccable care in thoughtfully choosing and studying her solo so its message illuminated and enlarged the spiritual lesson of the day.”
Margaret held many positions in local congregations, including both Readerships. She was employed by over a dozen CS churches in five states.
She also showcased comedy and romance in Chicago’s popular Davenport’s cabaret, and was comfortable singing in many other genres. Five hundred recordings survive her, and more of her best may be released.
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