Opera singer Sam Ramey to coach vocal music at WSU

08/29/2012 5:00 AM

08/30/2012 6:53 AM

A world-renowned opera singer will return to Wichita State University next month to coach students in his alma mater’s vocal music programs.

Samuel Ramey, known locally for his appearances with Wichita Grand Opera, will lend his musical expertise to students during several upcoming workshops and private lessons over the next five years. He joins the faculty at WSU as a guest artist under the university’s Guest Artist Fellowship in Opera, a privately funded position.

His first courses run Sept. 24 to Oct. 5.

“It is quite a big deal for us, and we are especially pleased that he would think enough of his alma mater to reach out to us,” said Rodney Miller, dean of WSU’s College of Fine Arts, which houses the university’s opera and music theater program. “He literally could command this kind of position at any music school in the United States.”

Ramey will continue the instruction during two spring sessions, scheduled Jan. 28 to Feb. 9 and March 4 to 16. He also is expected to direct one concert this academic year.

Ramey, 70, graduated from WSU in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in music performance. The three-time Grammy Award winner is known in opera circles as a premier bass-baritone. He is the most-recorded opera singer in history, surpassing well-known greats Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, Miller said.

Ramey grew up in Colby, where he sang bass in his church choir. He lives in Glenview, Ill.

Ramey made his Kansas debut in Wichita Grand Opera’s 2007 production of “Tosca” nearly 35 years after his professional debut in New York City Opera’s “Carmen.” He performed in the Wichita Grand Opera’s “Faust” the following year and in the 10th anniversary gala in 2011. Ramey will appear Jan. 19 in “Otello,” Giuseppe Verdi’s rendition of Shakespeare’s “Othello.”

Wichita Grand Opera general director Parvan Bakardiev said he is pleased Ramey will “lend his personality to young talent in the classroom.”

“I think the university will benefit very much from his presence,” Bakardiev said. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for all concerned, and I hope there will be another great voice in opera coming out of Wichita State in the future.”

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