Cover photo for Anthony Edward "Tony" Holt's Obituary
1940 Tony 2024

Anthony Edward "Tony" Holt

November 6, 1940 — January 12, 2024

Madison

Anthony Edward “Tony” Holt, went home to God on January 12, 2024. He was the beloved husband of his wife Beverly Taylor, father to Sarah, Julian, Peter and Joshua, brother of Michael, and a beloved friend to all who knew him. He made his fame as the “honeyed baritone” of The King’s  Singers, the British six-man vocal group with whom he toured the world and made classical, folk and popular recordings from 1969-1986. 

He could be charismatic on stage, and great fun around others, because he loved people of all sorts, but he also had a quiet side, that found beauty everywhere and could spot and love details in nature and in music. He loved birds and wildlife and dogs; collecting stamps, coins and figurines; riding old steam trains; travel everywhere; writing letters and diaries; reading and creating scavenger hunts for Christmas, He loved everything French, the South Downs of England, and boats and barges. He couldn’t throw out a magazine. He loved cars and games and artwork. He loved words and always had a small Oxford Dictionary nearby. In Madison, he sang with the Madison Symphony Chorus and sometimes the Orchard Ridge Congregational church choir. He liked to cuddle with animals and humans. 

Most people lately have used the phrases “a gentle man, a loving man, a sweet man, a handsome man, a kind man.”  His cousins referred to him as “our lovely cousin who was so important in our lives”. His brother referred to him as a talented and handsome man who loved others.   The King’s Singers referred to his dry humor and panache on stage and what a wonderful colleague he had been. 

He went through various ups and downs and moves in his life, but more and more in later years he turned to love, openness and forgiveness, and tried for kindness and truth in all he did. His smile was infectious and he could radiate joy. 

He was born November 6, 1940 in Henley-on-Thames, England where his mother had been sent during the fighting of World War II. His first few years were in London (where he admitted later he thought it was exciting to see where the bombs landed), before the family moved to the Brighton, Sussex area. His parents, Cecil Holt and Helen Warrington Holt and his brother Michael all sang in the church choir and performed in some local theatrical skits. Tony went on to join many National Chorister groups that led him to be a singer, age 12, in Westminster Abbey for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. He attended local schools and then his beloved prep school Brighton College, where his interests were music-singing and violin, theatre, cricket and languages. He won a place at Oxford and a job singing in the Christchurch Cathedral choir. After graduation and marriage to Janette Buqué he was a freelance singer in Chichester Cathedral, and sang with the BBC Singers, before becoming the high baritone for the King’s Singers, the lone Oxfordian among 5 Cambridge singers. 

In 1987, remarried to Lynne Warfel, he moved to California and Scotland before settling in Northfield, MN. He taught part-time at St. Olaf College, had a private voice studio and helped raise two boys. In 2018, after four years a bachelor, he met, after 32 years, his friend, conductor, Beverly Taylor, who had been the King’s Singers US Agent from 1981-1987. They wed Sept. 7, 2019 and were extremely happy, despite COVID and then dementia affecting their many plans for the future. They managed to fit in a road trip or two, a reunion of the King’s Singers original singers in England, drives in the country, walks in the Arboretum, Zoo and Olbrich Gardens, church activities, dinner with friends and playing with words and funny faces.

A memorial service will be held at Orchard Ridge Congregational Church in Madison, WI on March 9, 2024 at 2 PM. Interment will be later at the Taylor family plot in Pennsylvania. A memorial service and scattering of ashes will take place in England in mid-May. 

The family is grateful for the outpouring of love and support during this difficult time. We would like to express gratitude to the many caregivers who helped us along the way, and for the services of Interim Hospice in Tony’s final week. In lieu of flowers, friends are asked to donate to the Audubon Society, or the Madison Symphony Chorus or Alzheimer’s Association or Orchard Ridge Church choir fund, or just share kindness with one another. 

Please share your memories of Tony here on his tribute wall.


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