In 25 years, The Simon Estes Educational Foundation Inc., a local nonprofit named for the internationally renowned bass-baritone, has aided 317 students in achieving college degrees at prestigious universities across the country.
Founded by Jayne Lorraine Reed, who correctly believed the opera star would willingly lend his name to her mission, the Simon Estes Foundation promotes higher education opportunities to high school seniors, giving special consideration to black, Asian, Latino and Native American students.
Necessary for scholarship consideration are outstanding academic achievements (including a grade point average of 3.5 or higher), financial need and well-defined motivation to pursue a college degree.
On Thursday, April 27, the foundation will host its namesake, who frequently sang with Tulsa Opera in past years, in a concert with mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves and, in its Tulsa debut, the Wartburg College Choir, in the Chapman Music Hall of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, 110 E. Second St., at 8pm.
In 1966, Estes won the Tchaikovsky competition in Moscow and subsequently performed with every major opera company in the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala Milan, Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Paris Opera, Deutsche Opera Berlin and San Francisco Opera.
In 1990, Estes sang at the inauguration of the first black governor of Virginia, Douglas Wilder, as well as Nelson Mandela and the Conference of the Anatomy of Hate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former presidents Johnson, Nixon, H.W. Bush, Carter and Clinton.
Estes teaches at Iowa State University, Wartburg College and Boston University, as well as in master classes at universities across the country.
Graves, who joins Estes on the Chapman stage, is widely regarded as one of the most exciting current opera singers and is one of the most sought-after.
USA Today called her "an operatic superstar of the 21st Century," and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote, "If the human voice has the power to move you, you will be touched by Denyce Graves."
Her most recognizable performances have been for the title roles in Carmen and Samson et Dalila.
Based in Waverly, Iowa, the Wartburg College Choir is internationally acclaimed for performing works of contemporary composers, singing a cappella.
The choir, which has been in existence for nearly three-quarters of a century, is known for singing some of the most challenging pieces ever written for choral ensembles and also frequently performs original works.
Tickets to the concert range in price from $100 for priority seating to $10 for students. All proceeds benefit the foundation. The artists will greet patrons in a reception in the PAC's Kathleen P. Westby Pavilion immediately following the concert.
For more information and to purchase tickets, go to tulsapac.com.
Acclaimed singer/songwriter and Broadway star Ann Hampton Callaway, nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in Swing!, will perform a benefit concert for LGBT advocacy nonprofit Oklahomans for Equality Sunday, April 25, at 7pm in the Tulsa PAC's John H. Williams Theatre.
The New York Observer wrote about Callaway and said, "In the world of cabaret performers, Ann Hampton Callaway is a silver Bentley in a lot full of used Toyotas."
"She has a powerful storytelling quality, enriched by her strong sense of swing, her imaginative improvisational skills and her rare ability to enrich her interpretations with colorful tonal variations," wrote the Los Angeles Times.
Tickets to the concert are $60 for preferred seating, which includes admission to an artist's reception, and $30 for general admission. They may be purchased at the PAC's Web site.
Run Away with the Cirque
On Sunday, April 25, Celebrity Attractions and Cirque Dreams Illumination, performing at the Tulsa PAC May 11-16, will offer aspiring performers, acrobats, gymnasts, musicians, dancers and singers the opportunity to audition to be a part of the show.
The call begins at 11:30am, and the first 100 dreamers to register at Woodland Hills Mall, 7021 S. Memorial Dr., will get the chance to audition.
Each participant will have two minutes to perform and should bring his or her own accompanying music.
The winner of the contest will be trained locally by the Cirque Dreams design team and perform with the company at its Tulsa show. The winner will also receive six complimentary tickets to the show.
In 2009, a 16-year-old from Miami who won the contest was hired by Cirque Dreams to perform a principal role in its Holidaze tour this year.
For more information about the audition or Cirque Dreams Illumination, visit celebrityattractions.com.
This weekend, April 24-25, Tulsa Ballet continues its run of "Pop Culture," a series of three new works choreographed by Edwaard Liang, Young Soon Hue and TB's resident choreographer Ma Cong.
Each of these works, which received their world premieres at last weekend's performance, is set to contemporary music and will be performed in TB's Studio K, 1212 E. 45th Place.
"Pop Culture" aims to somewhat bridge the gap between "the elitist perception of dance" and the general, pop culture-appreciating public.
"For some reason, it seems easier for an audience that has not attended a ballet performance in the past, to 'break the ice' with a title like Cinderella or The Sleeping Beauty," Angelini said. "And yet, these works are more difficult to relate to when compared to contemporary ballets. By the same token, contemporary ballets don't have a recognizable name. By creating three new works on widely popular music, I hope to provide the general audience and the community with an identifiable quantity, just like people can identify with Cinderella.
"In the latter, they know the plot; in the former, they're familiar with the music. I know that, once they experience the power, beauty, athleticism and poetry of contemporary dance, they will be hooked forever."
For tickets and other information, visit tulsaballet.org.
Don Quixote, Deconstructed
What began as a budget crisis that forced Tulsa Opera's directors to scrap its original spring production has turned into an opportunity to present the Oklahoma premier and Tulsa Opera debut of Jules Massenet's Don Quichotte, written in 1910 and based on Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes.
Lacking the funds for a large set and elaborate costumes, the opera, which stars bass Alfred Walker, mezzo-soprano Dana Beth Miller and bass-baritone Eduardo Chama, is deliberately stripped down, nearly abstract in its presentation.
"It seems to me it's a little bit liberating and empowering to the performers not to have a lot of stuff," said TO Artistic Director Kostis Protopapas. "Because they have more responsibility; they command the space in a different way. It seems they have a better sense they are the performance; rather than having all this stuff on the stage."
Tulsa Opera presents Don Quichotte at the PAC's Chapman Music Hall Friday, April 23 at 7:30pm and Sunday, April 25, at 2:30pm.
Share this article: