By Kyle Ocker and Krystal Fowler - Daily Iowegian
Internationally-renowned bass-baritone Simon Estes will perform in the Hellyer Student Life Center on the Ottumwa Campus of Indian Hills Community College on Sunday, Jan. 20. Estes will sing with the Indian Hills Community College Concert Choir and combined high school choirs from the Ottumwa, Eddyville/Blakesburg/Fre-mont and Cardinal school districts during the 3 p.m. concert. Tickets are free to the public and doors will open for seating at 2 p.m.
The Indian Hills performance is part of Estes’ Roots and Wings Tour which will have taken him to perform in all of Iowa’s 99 counties when the tour is completed. Estes contributes 50 percent of his fee from these concerts to the Simon Estes Foundation to support scholarships for graduating high school seniors in the counties where he has performed. To date, 70 scholarships have been awarded to students across Iowa pursuing a wide range of academic studies at the college or university of the recipients’ choice. Following the performance at Indian Hills, the foundation will award scholarships to high school graduates from Wapello County.
A native of Centerville, Estes enjoys the acclaim of audiences and critics around the globe. He has performed with major international opera companies since his debut with the Deutsche Oper Berlin in 1965. Several performances have been historic milestones in Estes' career. His triumphant debut as the Dutchman in Wagner’s “The Flying Dutchman” at the Bayreuth Festival in 1978 was the first appearance of any black male artist there. Estes was the Metropolitan Opera's first Porgy in Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” in 1985. He sang the following year with the Boston Pops at the Statue of Liberty centennial celebration.
Estes has sung at the White House for three American Presidents and, in 1990, performed at the service honoring Nelson Mandela at New York's Riverside Church and with the National Symphony under the direction of Mstislav Rostropovich for the Fourth of July Celebration in Washington. In the fall of 1994, he sang for Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.
While currently holding teaching positions at Iowa State University and Wartburg College, Estes also maintains an active schedule of performances and master classes. Recent awards presented to Estes include the Distinguished Iowa Citizen Award and the Alumni Award of Iowa State University.