|Grammy-Winner Daniel Belcher Invited to Sing|
Grammy-Award–Winning operatic baritone and former student at Julliard, Daniel Belcher, presented a solo recital Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in Wine Recital Hall.
Approximately one year ago Dr. Debra Lynn, the music department chair, saw Daniel Belcher’s name as a Grammy-winner and thought of the close friendship they had as undergraduate students at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. Lynn was also the pianist for his very first opera performance. “It was cool for me that I was in that with him,” she said.
Belcher has come to North Manchester two times since then. He spent some days in September but was not able to stay very long due to a strenuous opera schedule that he performs all over the world. “He loves to come and doesn’t get to teach a lot because he is on the road so much,” Lynn said.
Belcher typically goes to a few high schools within an hour’s drive to visit classes, sing a couple of numbers, and talk to the students about careers in music. “He is very compliant when answering questions even when it comes down to things like ‘What car do you drive?’” said Lynn with a smile. Belcher also usually does either a recital performance or some type of master class where singers come and sing for him in front of class and he gives them a mini voice lesson. “This is very scary for the singer to do, but Danny is very nice about it,” Lynn said. He is now very in demand with local schools and because of limited time the schools that request his presence and teaching first are the ones that get to see him. Last year a master class was offered by Lynn and Belcher for high-schoolers before the Indiana state solo and ensemble music contest, where 15 or 20 minutes is devoted to each student for voice improvement. “This is the kind of teaching that is kind of exhausting for the instructor, and when we had 14 students sign up I told Danny that he did not have to give lessons to all of them and that we should choose 5 or 6,” Lynn said. “Danny just said put them all on the sign up list and we’ll go until we’re done. He did a four-hour master class with only one bathroom break for himself and was just as energetic with the first person as he was with the last. That’s why we all love for him to come he really just gives all of himself.”
Belcher is very well-known for premiering new works that have been written with difficult opera parts. “Many think of operas in terms of Mozart and Beethoven and in other words composers that are decomposing, but that’s not true many composers are still writing operas and need people to premier these difficult works,” Lynn said. “Daniel is able to look at new material and interpret it well even with no recording to reference.”
The Manchester Symphony Orchestra is performing some wonderful Christmas numbers from The Polar Express and Disney’s The Christmas Carol (with Jim Carrey) that will also be a nice complement to Daniel Belcher’s performance. Scott Humphries, the director of instrumental studies and conductor of the symphonic orchestra at Manchester University also works closely with Daniel Belcher during his time spent at MU. “There is no pretentiousness even though he’s a big star in the operatic world,” Humphries said. “He relates well to others and is approachable. I think that’s why he really enjoys our music department and has so willingly come back, because we are so approachable and caring towards students as well.”