Opera Singer Sam Ramey '68 shares knowledge and experiences with WSU students

Sam Ramey

Sam Ramey ’68 is the recipient of the WSU Guest Artist Fellowship in Opera and will teach several weeks a semester in the WSU School of Music for the next five years through this privately funded position.

 Donor support makes opportunity possible

Sam Ramey, the premier operatic bass-baritone of the 20th century and the most recorded opera singer in history, is now sharing his musical expertise with vocal students at Wichita State. Ramey is the recipient of the WSU Guest Artist Fellowship in Opera, a position that is funded entirely through private support.

To date, eight donors have stepped forward to help establish the fund: Mickey Armstrong, Bill and Dorothy Cohen, George and Brenda Farha, John Garvey, Anita Jones, Bill and Mary Lynn Oliver, Dennis and Ann Ross, and WSU Music Associates, a pooled donor fund that provides educational and cultural opportunities for students in the WSU School of Music. The donors have contributed enough to cover the first few years, but more money will be needed to fund the proposed five-year plan.

 “When a world-renowned opera singer contacts his alma mater and expresses that he wishes to be engaged with our students, we want to find a way to bring him here,” said Elizabeth King, president and CEO of the WSU Foundation. “Equal to Sam reaching out to WSU is having donors who understand what a coup it is for our students, who will gain invaluable knowledge from studying under such a master teacher.

“With diminished state dollars, the only way Wichita State can provide enhancements such as this are through private support.”

Ramey’s first session ran Sept. 24-Oct. 5. For spring semester, he will be here Jan. 28-Feb. 9 and March 4-16. Ramey will teach several weeks each semester.

About 25 to 30 WSU graduate and undergraduate students will have one-on-one time with Ramey and close to 100 students will benefit from his erudition in group settings per semester. Ramey’s responsibilities will include private coaching sessions, graduate seminars, voice studio master classes and directing one concert in the spring. He may attend opera rehearsals to help students with role preparation.

“With diminished state dollars, the only way Wichita State can provide enhancements such as this is through private support.”

— Elizabeth King, WSU Foundation President & CEO

“This is going to be an enhancement of the student experience at WSU incomparable to any other because very rarely do students have the opportunity to work with someone at the top who was literally in their shoes at one time,” said Rodney Miller, dean of the WSU College of Fine Arts. “Sam’s international reputation at the highest levels of opera adds prestige to our vocal program.”

Ramey, who grew up in Colby, Kan., singing bass in the Methodist Church choir, graduated from Wichita State in 1968 with a Bachelor of Music in music performance. He established the Samuel Ramey Opera Fellowship at WSU in 1994. Ramey is a life member of the WSU

Alumni Association, from which he received the Alumni Achievement Award, and is a member of the WSU Foundation President’s Club.

To learn more about Ramey’s career, visit http://foundation.wichita.edu/document.doc?id=89.

Ramey, who is 70 years old, made his professional debut with the New York City Opera in 1973 at the age of 31. He has performed on the world’s greatest stages – La Scala in Milan, Covent Gardens in London, Palais Garnier in Paris and the Metropolitan Opera in New York. He lives in Glenview, Ill., with his wife and son.

 To ensure Sam Ramey will be able to continue teaching at Wichita State, please contact Diana Gordon, WSU Foundation director of development for the College of Fine Arts, at (316) 978-7307 or diana.gordon@wichita.edu.

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