Professor of Music, Malcolm J. Breda, laid to rest at Xavier memorial

By Tashia Hogue

The chapel filled with friends and family along with past students who came together to honor the life and accomplishments of professor emeritus of music, Dr. Malcolm J. Breda, at Xavier University’s Chapel on Jan. 28, 2023. Breda passed away on Jan. 17, 2023 at the age of 89.

“We were all privileged by the various relationships that we enjoyed with him,” said Andrew Lynn, a former student of Breda, to mourners as the service opened with prayers. While he spoke, emotions of grief and happiness filled the chapel.

“He was passionate about music, passionate about Xavierites …. He was meek and mild and even tender under the right circumstances. If you’re here you know the generous soul he was. He left us many lessons and we’re forever grateful,” Lynn said.

Breda was born on Aug. 14, 1934. Although he made New Orleans his home, he was initially a native of Alexandria, La. He graduated from Xavier in 1956 and was a proud alumnus, faculty said. A highly regarded member of countless professional organizations, Breda was a Fulbright scholar, composer, and teacher.

Xavier music department professor Dr. John Ware leads the memorial choir in song in tribute to Dr. Malcolm Breda’s life. 

“What the music department is today is because of his work and his service,” said Marcus Ballard, the head of Xavier’s music department, who also spoke on Breda’s memory and sense of humor.

“We went on a lengthy tour during that first semester, a bus full of students and Dr. Breda and I were up front with some faculty,” Ballard recounted at the memorial. “I don’t think I ever laughed that hard in my entire life. Sitting on a bus between New Orleans and Philadelphia. … I thought I did my homework on Xavier or about Katherine Drexel before the bus ride, but Dr. Breda showed me just how little I knew about St. Katherine and her legacy.”

Members of the New Orleans Black Chorale like Sedonia McMorris also attended the service to pay homage to Breda’s legacy. She spoke about his work ethic and reputation.

“He lived up to his reputation. He was grumpy and very exacting in wanting things the way that he wanted them,” McMorris said.

Xavier faculty and alumni pay tribute to Dr. Malcolm Breda at his memorial service. 

The audience laughed as she impersonated his teaching mannerisms. The memories shared helped depict the hard worker he was and how this led to many of his accomplishments. There were stories told that also highlighted his service in the community.

“[He was] waiting to give you a helping hand and an encouraging word…Breda was a very caring person, looking back on the 21 years we were greatly blessed that he had so much to give to all of us,” said, Ray Baudier, a member of the St. Dominic church choir.

Mourners said the service was heartfelt especially during the many performances dedicated to Breda by Xavier’s Concert Choir, The New Orleans Black Chorale, and St. Dominic church choir. Along with pianist, Veronica Downs-Dorsey, Dr. Wilfred Delphin and cantor, Dr. John Ware.

It was a celebration of Breda’s life, Delphin said in the eulogy, adding a concluding sentiment to the impact that Breda had on everyone he encountered.

“His contribution has been his life,” Delphin told mourners.

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