Renowned opera star to perform during Northwestern College chapel

Internationally renowned opera star Simon Estes will perform during a Northwestern College chapel service on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 11:05 a.m. in Christ Chapel. The event is free and open to the public.

A native of Centerville, Iowa, Estes has performed with 84 major international opera companies, including the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Metropolitan Opera, the Paris Opera, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, the San Francisco Opera and the Zurich Opera House. As a recitalist and orchestra soloist, he has also performed with 115 orchestras, including the Boston and Chicago symphonies, the London Philharmonic Orchestra , New York Philharmonic and Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

As a pre-med and psychology student at the University of Iowa, Estes became the first black member of the university’s Old Gold Singers. Estes was later awarded a full scholarship to attend Julliard School of Music and in 1965, he made his operatic debut with Deutsche Oper as Ramfis in “Aida.”

Among his notable recitals, Estes has performed at the White House for President George H.W. Bush and Lyndon Johnson and sung at the inaugural concert of the Kennedy Center. He is the only singer to perform for both the 25th and 50th anniversaries of the United Nations. He’s also performed with musicians like Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, John Denver, Whitney Houston and Barry Manilow.

Despite being known for his opera, concert and recital performances and national TV appearances, Estes is also dedicated to sharing his knowledge and love of music to students. He currently serves as a professor at Iowa State University and Wartburg College. He has created four scholarship organizations in the United States; a young artist performance program for Iowa youth; a foundation for children in Zurich, Switzerland; and a school for underprivileged children in Cape Town, South Africa.

Estes earned a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Iowa and has been awarded honorary doctorates from Drake University, Iowa State University, Lawrence University, Siena College and the University of Tulsa. He received the Gold Medal of Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona, Spain, and has been honored by Gov. Terry Branstad with the Iowa Award and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award.