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School of Music opera alumnus to perform



Sarah Stortz, [email protected]

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Coming back to where he learned his fundamental skills, opera singer Kyle Ketelsen will perform a vocal concert in the Voxman Recital Hall on April 23. Additionally, he will have a Q&A session earlier in the day.

Growing up in a musical family, singing has long been a part of Ketelsen’s life. He typically delved into classical music, but his introduction to opera came when his mother introduced him to an album called The Movies Go to the Opera, which featured operatic melodies that he recognized in film.

Ketelsen said he deeply appreciates operatic music because of its versatility.

“It’s an art form that combines every other art form,” he said. “If you go to an opera, you can experience dance, visual art, acting, and music.”

After receiving a Bachelor of Music in 1995, Ketelsen furthered his studies at the Indiana University-Bloomington, describing the environment as having “facilities that many opera companies would be jealous of.”

Immediately following his graduation, he saw that he could travel around the world singing for a living.

“I felt like a collegiate athlete who had the option to go pro, and I did,” Ketelsen said. “I never looked back, and I’m here after 19 years.”

Within the past year, Ketelsen has worked for the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Opernhaus Zürich in Switzerland, and the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Other destinations have included Birmingham’s Town Hall, Amsterdam’s Royal Concertgebouw, London’s Barbican Centre, and New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Ketelsen said the biggest reward in his career is exploring the vast number of countries, especially when he does it with his family.

“If more people have the opportunity to travel, I think we would be a whole lot better off,” Ketelsen said. “One thing that’s really beautiful is seeing just how [my kids] accept foreign people, languages, and culture. That’s just the natural state of humans, they just accept. As adults, that’s something we can take from kids.”

Scott McCoy, an Ohio State University professor of voice, used to be a faculty member in the UI School of Music, remembers Ketelsen as a student.

McCoy said Ketelsen was initially interested in taking voice lesson at the music school for fun, which required an audition. However, his audition was so strong that he immediately was admitted as a voice major with a scholarship.

“Clearly, he was a young singer with exceptional promise,” McCoy wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan.

McCoy currently acts as Ketelsen’s voice teacher.

“Kyle’s voice has great depth and color, and he sings with extraordinarily expressive musicality and communication,” McCoy said. “I had the great pleasure to engage Kyle as the bass soloist for a performance of Verdi’s Requiem I conducted a few years ago. His moving performance is among my most memorable musical experiences.”

UI voice Professor Katherine Eberle said she invited Ketelsen as a part of the music school’s Guest Artist Alumni Concert Series.

“He has the most gorgeous baritone voice,” Eberle said. “Our students have loved the alumni who have been coming here. With the chance of asking how his career has developed, it would be a wonderful opportunity for them.”

Ketelsen said he views it as an honor to be invited back.

“It’s one of those milestones to come back to your alma mater to perform,” he said.

When: 7:30p.m. April 23

Where: Voxman Recital Hall



About the Writer
Sarah Stortz, Arts Reporter
Twitter: _ssto
Sarah Stortz is currently a digital producer and arts reporter at the DI. She is a junior at the University of Iowa, studying journalism & mass communication with a certificate in nonprofit management. She has been at the DI since January of 2017, previously working as a news reporter during her freshman year. She worked in the arts section during her sophomore year, eventually becoming the assistant arts editor.
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