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Internationally recognized operatic tenor and Southeastern Alumnus provides critical advice to a student during one of the master classes he conducted while at his alma mater to receive the 2010 Alumnus of the Year Award.
“I think of the young Franklinton boy from Washington Parish who walked by the Friendship Oak, pushed open the door of the music building, and opened the door to all that happened in the future.”
Internationally recognized operatic tenor Donald George made his plea for the encouragement of music in our lives when he accepted his award as Southeastern’s 2010 Alumnus of the Year in ceremonies during this year’s homecoming celebration.
The award recognizes graduates with unique accomplishments on a national or international level who continue to be active supporters of their alma mater. George had previously been recognized by the university when he was inducted into the Southeastern Music Hall of Fame in 2001.
“We all know the power of music,” he said. “Music is used for important events, tragedies and high emotional moments in life,” said George, an associate professor of voice at The Crane School of Music at State University of New York in Potsdam. “After 9/11, music was heard all across the land; after Katrina or the oil spill, music was heard in our churches to help us through the grief and pain. Music fills some prime emotive area of our lives. There are some theories that music came even before speech, so that in turning to music we return to our roots.”
Decrying the trend to cut funding for music and arts education in tight budgetary times, George said, “The greatest concern is not the emptiness of the wallet but the emptiness of the soul. Real art is one of the most powerful forces in civilization, and when we make it accessible to as many people as possible, it is a benefactor of humanity.”
“We are proud to welcome Donald George back home,” said President John L. Crain. “He
has excelled as both a teacher who works closely with undergraduate students and as
a performer on stages in the United States, Europe, Australia and China. He has truly
earned international recognition for his talent.”
While visiting the university, he met with small groups of students and also conducted a master class for vocal performance majors, offering valued critiques of their singing performances.
George earned his bachelor’s degree at Southeastern in 1969 and his master’s degree at LSU. In Europe, where he continued his studies, he made his debut in Munich at the Staatstheater am Gartnerplatz in Mozart’s Entfuhrung. He went on to sing at most of the well-known opera houses of Italy, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Spain, Israel and Brazil.
In addition to his teaching at SUNY-Potsdam and in Germany, he has served as an honored professor at Shenyang Conservatory in China. He serves as the director of the IPA Institute’s Opera Intensive Program, a program for developing and training young opera singers. He has also taught at the Bavarian Theater Academy, Hochschule fur Theater und Music in Munich.
George has sung with many of the famous orchestras and conductors of the world, including the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, L’Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale Rai Italy, Radio France and the London Symphony. He has recorded for Sony, Naxos, Phillips Classic and Bavarian Radio and is a active member of the College Music Society, the National Association of Teachers of Singing, Opera America and the Music Teachers National Association.