The Ouachita Baptist University Division of Music will host Ouachita alumnus Stephen Ray in a guest artist recital with Cindy Fuller on piano. The free concert will be held Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 7:30 p.m. in W. Francis McBeth Recital Hall in Mabee Fine Arts Center. Donations will be accepted in support of OBU vocal studies students attending the regional NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) conference in November.
Ray, a native of Sherwood, Ark., graduated from OBU in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music and a minor in Christian Studies. In 2008, he became the only OBU student to be selected twice as a national semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera Council auditions held at Lincoln Center on the stage of the MET in New York. After advancing to the national finals of the same competition, Ray was one of nine singers out of 1,000 who could claim this achievement. After leaving Ouachita, he completed a Master of Music degree in vocal performance at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music in Houston, Texas, in 2011.
“Stephen surprised himself by buckling down and working very hard to build his talent into something that could be recognized on a national level,” said Dr. Jon Secrest, chair of OBU’s Department of Applied Music and coordinator for the vocal studies program. Those who attend the concert “will be privileged to hear a singer who demonstrates an elite level of vocalism, presented with intense artistry and a love of music, as well as a love for the Lord of creation.”
More than 50 current Ouachita voice principal majors plan to attend the NATS conferences in early November. Those who attend the conferences will take part in student auditions and competitions in order to foster growth as they work toward their musical careers. The majority of the cost to attend the conference is paid by the students. A portion of the cost is defrayed by a grant provided by Paul and Virginia Henry, but the department is seeking to take more of the financial burden off the students through fundraisers such as this guest recital.
“Stephen and dozens of other OBU voice students have benefitted tremendously from their previous experiences at NATS,” said Secrest. “Because he understands the value of the NATS organization and its contribution to students’ musical growth, Stephen enthusiastically agreed to present this program in support of our efforts.”
Fuller, the pianist for the concert, served for many years at OBU as a lecturer in music. She taught applied voice and music education and served as the primary accompanist for the Ouachita Singers. “She is one of the finest collaborative accompanists I have ever worked with,” Secrest said. Fuller now resides in Little Rock with her husband, Dr. Charles Fuller, former dean of Ouachita’s School of Fine Arts.
The concert will begin with Hall Johnson’s arrangement of “Ride On, King Jesus,” Georges Bizet’s “Votre toast, je peux vous le render” from Carmen and “Chanson Romanesque,” “Chanson épique,” “Chanson à boire,” from Maurice Ravel’s Don Quichotte a Dulcinée. Rary will continue with “La vatue et la cloche” and “Phydilé” by Henri Duparc and “Silent Noon” and “Love’s Minstrels” from Ralph Vaughn Williams’ House of Life. Next, he will perform George Gershwin’s “I Got Plenty o’ Nuttin’” from Porgy and Bess, Margaret Bond’s Three Dream Portraits and the traditional spirituals “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Were You There.” He will conclude with Giacomo Puccini’s “O Mimi, tu piu non torni” from La Bohème and Albert Hay Malotte’s arrangement of “The Lord’s Prayer.”
For more information, contact Dr. Jon Secrest at firstname.lastname@example.org or (870) 245-5134.
By Matthew Cook