Alan's Blog...It's all Gesamtkunstwerk to me!

Thoughts from nearly 40 years on the professional stage

January 2014

Major Announcement…Coming back to Shockerland

HERE IT IS!!! To some, this may not be such a “Big Announcement” as you've heard this news already. To others, this is going to be a bit surprising. And, yet, to a few, this will be no surprise at all since you may have “seen it coming” for some time. As I post this, I find myself at one of my favorite places on earth. I am on the campus of Wichita State University where I have just been announced as the Ann and Dr. Dennis Ross Faculty of Distinction in Opera . What an honor!!! Now, please, nobody panic!!! I AM NOT STOPPING MY CAREER AS AN OPERA SINGER—that career is still going strong.
I have long felt a strong pull towards academia and teaching. My career started out in the field of education. I have always hoped to have balanced professions of singing and teaching together. Often, I give master classes and teach privately during my travels-most notably at Yale University over the past 12 years. This sharing of my knowledge and experiences in the opera business, as well as offering what I can to young singers by the way of voice sculpting and technical advice, has been a highlight of my career. I enjoy both of my career paths—singing and educating. The two professions go completely hand in hand. We are all called to serve and teach--no matter what we do--every day of our lives
In early October, I was approached by my graduate school alma mater, Wichita State University, to see if I’d be interested in accepting a position on the voice faculty. After a great amount of discernment, evaluating, and contemplating, it became obvious that this opportunity was too favorable to pass up. There have been other positions over the years that I’ve considered. None, however, fit me more perfectly at this point in my career. WSU is strongly encouraging me to continue performing as well as teach. It’s the best of both worlds. I’m joining a strong faculty who I look forward to working with, including my singing colleague, Samuel Ramey, who is WSU’s “Artist in Residence”. Nancy and I will enjoy being back in Wichita, a city we have loved since the very early days of our marriage. We will be renewing old friendships and establishing new bonds. Our remaining children at home are greatly looking forward to the move to Kansas. We will, of course, miss so many of our dear friends, not to mention, family, on the east coast. But please--come visit us and see all the many things (including beauty) that Kansas has to offer.
Wichita State has had, for a very long time, a great record of educating outstanding musicians. Sam, the most recorded bass in opera history, is, of course, just one of the many WSU graduates who have had an excellent career upon graduation. WSU is also the alma mater of Joyce Didonato, opera's reigning mezzo-soprano--and so many others. Gee, I didn’t do so badly myself. I look forward to having the opportunity to help bring even more great singers from WSU to the fore. I am thrilled to be part of a major university community and to have the chance to help enrich the life of this institution as well as the arts in the city of Wichita and beyond.
As I’ve posted many times, I have a strong commitment and dedication to helping develop strong and healthy vocal technic in our young singers. In fact, there was very recently a discussion on this topic on one my Facebook threads. In many ways, I feel like, with this position, I’m backing up what I’ve said and will be doing what I can to make these goals more attainable for others. I’ve also said, many times, that I am a better singer because of my teaching. Constantly being able to evaluate "what I do and how I do it" has added years to my career. I plan on that continuing to be the case for some time. I've had nearly 30 years as a performing artist—“Not too shabby" (as my high school band director would say). Who knows? Maybe I've got 30 more in me.
And, about that performing career. As I said, my days as a singing actor are not coming to a close. Many projects are already at hand and work is planned well into the future. Ring Cycles await. Heads are still set to roll in “Salome”. Waves are scheduled to be sailed as the “Dutchman”. On top of these roles, however, I’ll be sharing and serving as I can—to a great art form and a great university.
So, as was said in “The Poltergeist”----"I’M BACK!!!”----and I'm so very excited that this is the case. OH, and to initiate my return to campus, I’m to sing the National Anthem at tonight’s basketball game against Bradley University (my Mom’s alma mater). GO SHOCKERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!